‘Despicable Me 4’ Is Here to Keep the Box Office Red Hot

A month ago, Universal/Illumination’s “Despicable Me 4” looked like the film that was truly going to get the box office performing on the level we expect in the summer. “Inside Out 2” and “A Quiet Place: Day One” were expected merely to steadily warm up the market after the terrible grosses seen in May.

That was before Disney/Pixar’s “Inside Out 2” blew past even the most optimistic expectations and became the fastest grossing animated film to top $1 billion worldwide. Now, with that film expected to add another $200 million or so to domestic totals in July, “Despicable Me 4” will look to fan the flames of this newfound momentum rather than ignite it.

All signs point to Illumination’s flagship franchise doing just that as it hits theaters on Wednesday, with trackers projecting an extended five-day Fourth of July weekend start of $110-125 million, close to the $123 million four-day total that the spinoff “Minions: The Rise of Gru” earned two years ago over the July 4 holiday period.

The simultaneous presence of two family films from the top animation houses in the world may limit the top end of their moneymaking potential. That’s why trackers are predicting a slight dip for “Despicable Me 4” compared to “Minions 2.”

But trailers for the film have been running in front of every screening of “Inside Out 2” for the past three weeks. And considering how Pixar’s unstoppable success has been fueled by both families eager to get out of the house and beat the summer heat — and by Gen Z moviegoers nostalgic for the films of their early 2010s youth — all signs point to “Despicable Me 4” capturing a sizable chunk of that energy, even if it doesn’t match the unexpected heights of its fellow summer sequel.

Elsewhere, a pair of films from indie distributors will look to find lower budget success in wide release. First is A24’s “MaXXXine,” Ti West’s trilogy capper to his pair of microbudget slasher films “X” and “Pearl,” which grossed a combined $24.5 million at the global box office.

Set in 1985 Los Angeles and inspired by the real-life serial killers that plagued the city like The Night Stalker, “MaXXXine” sports a higher budget and an ensemble cast that includes Elizabeth Debicki, Kevin Bacon and Giancarlo Esposito, who join series lead Mia Goth. The film is tracking for a $7 million extended opening from 2,200 theaters, topping the $4.2 million opening from 2,865 theaters that “X” earned in 2022.

Also hitting theaters is Angel Studios: “Sound of Hope: The Story of Possum Trot,” a spiritual sequel to the studio’s breakthrough hit “Sound of Freedom,” which became one of the highest grossing indie hits of all time with $250 million grossed worldwide.

While receiving early praise from some critics — the film has a 100% Rotten Tomatoes score with 14 reviews logged — “Sound of Hope” is projected to gross only $4-6 million over the extended weekend, less than half of the $14 million that “Sound of Freedom” earned on its July 4 opening day alone.

Still, with a reported budget of just $8.5 million, “Sound of Hope” will be another low budget theatrical success for Angel Studios as it continues its plan to release four-five films per year on holiday weekends. Directed by Joshua Weigel and produced by Letitia Wright, “Sound of Hope” explores the crisis of child trafficking from a different perspective from “Sound of Freedom.” It tells the story of a church community in Possum Trot, Texas, that came together to ensure that the 77 children in a nearby orphanage dedicated to sheltering those rescued from traffickers would be adopted.

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