‘Despicable Me 3’ and ‘Baby Driver’ win, ‘The House’ doesn’t

LOS ANGELES — The Minions are still a box office force and original stories are scoring big, but not the R-rated comedy — even with Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler behind it.

Studio estimates on Sunday say that Universal Pictures and Illumination’s Despicable Me 3 earned $75.4 million over the weekend, while the former Saturday Night Live stars’ gambling comedy The House burned down.

Featuring the voices of Steve Carell and Trey Parker, Despicable Me 3 easily topped the holiday weekend charts from 4,529 theatres in North America. While it’s a far cry from Minions’ $115 million launch in 2015, and also lower than Despicable Me 2, which opened to $83.5 million in 2013, Nick Carpou, president of Domestic Theatrical Distribution for Universal Pictures, says that $75 million is a number he’ll celebrate any day of the week.

Carpou notes that Illumination continues to prove itself a formidable brand for family entertainment.

“They resonate and absolutely are relatable,” Carpou said. “They’re movies that are built for all ages.”

Edgar Wright’s original heist movie Baby Driver coasted to $30 million in its first five days in theatres, with $21 million from the three-day weekend to take second place. Sony Pictures released the R-rated pic which stars Jamie Foxx, Ansel Elgort, Jon Hamm and Kevin Spacey and cost a reported $34 million to produce.

The R-rated film did well with critics and is one of a handful of original or independent films this weekend that are notable successes. Sofia Coppola’s R-rated Civil War-set film The Beguiled scored in its expansion from four to 674 theatres in its second weekend. It earned $3.3 million to take eighth place and bested franchise fare including The Mummy”and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, which were both playing in more than 1,670 theatres.

The well-reviewed romantic comedy The Big Sick also did good business in its expansion to 71 locations, earning $1.7 million. The R-rated film expands wide on July 14.

“The best box office stories are further down the chart. They are all benefiting from feeling like the kind of content people are responding to on the small screen,” noted Paul Dergarabedian, a senior media analyst for comScore. “Perhaps this is the summer where Hollywood finally starts emulating the small screen model of creating compelling original content in order to generate goodwill with audiences who have more options than ever before.”

Rounding out the top five were holdovers Transformers: The Last Knight in third with $17 million, followed by Wonder Woman with $15.6 million and Cars 3 with $9.5 million.

Not so successful was suburban gambling comedy The House which landed in sixth place with only $9 million — one of the lowest of Ferrell’s career and the latest in a string of R-rated comedies to tank at the box office following Rough Night and Baywatch.

“The R-rated comedy used to be the antidote to the typical summer blockbuster and now those films are having a tough time,” said Dergarabedian noting success stories like The Hangover, Bridesmaids and Neighbours. ”Now people feel like they’ve seen that movie before when they watch the trailer. They’ve lost interest.”

Overall, the summer box office continues to struggle and is down nearly eight per cent from last year, while the year to date is close to flat. But the summer box office roller coaster may still have some surprises in store.

Spider-Man: Homecoming will swing in action later this week and, like Wonder Woman before it, could turn things around,” Dergarabedian said. “But we need more than one box office superhero, we need multiple films performing.”

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theatres, according to comScore. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.

1. Despicable Me 3, $75.4 million.

2. Baby Driver, $21 million.

3. Transformers: The Last Knight, $17 million.

4. Wonder Woman, $15.6 million.

5. Cars 3, $9.5 million.

6. The House, $9 million.

7. 47 Metres Down, $4.7 million.

8. The Beguiled, $3.3 million.

9. The Mummy, $2.8 million.

10. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, $2.4 million.

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