Despicable Me 4 tops July 4 box office with $20.4 million

Fireworks, barbecues and puppies. That’s how many Americans celebrated Independence Day on July 4, as “Despicable Me 4” topped the box office, taking in $20.4 million.

The latest in Universal and Illumination’s hugely successful franchise about a former supervillain who has been domesticated, the film has grossed $47.6 million in its first two days. It is expected to gross around $120 million over the five-day weekend—an impressive result for a production with a relatively economical (for an animated film) budget of $100 million. By contrast, many films from Illumination’s main competitors, Disney and Pixar, typically cost $200 million to make.

Steve Carell returns as Gru in Despicable Me 4, and he’s opposite his former Anchorman co-star Will Ferrell, who plays Frenchman Maxime Le Malle, and Sofia Vergara as Valentina, a seductive woman and Maxime’s main love interest. But the henchmen (Voiced by Pierre Coffin(The filmmaker behind the previous “Despicable Me” films), those crazy yellow creatures have delighted children for over a decade, and are the franchise’s greatest strength. Not only do these creatures appear in the “Despicable Me” films, they’ve also spun off spinoff adventures and become Illumination’s mascot in the process. The animation company has been able to build on the success of the “Despicable Me” films, going on to produce hits like “The Secret Life of Pets,” “Sing” and “The Super Mario Bros. Movie.”

Despicable Me’s main competitor was Inside Out 2, another hugely successful animated film that restored the luster of Pixar and Disney after the studios suffered some missteps. The film grossed $7.2 million on Independence Day, pushing its domestic total to $503.6 million. Inside Out 2 is now the third-highest-grossing animated film domestically; it is also the sixth-highest-grossing animated film worldwide, having grossed over $1.07 billion.

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Paramount’s horror film “A Quiet Place: Day One” earned $4.7 million over the Fourth of July, bringing its domestic total to $73.3 million, while Angel Studios’ “Voice of Hope: The Possum Trot Story,” about a Texas minister and his wife’s efforts to change the lives of adopted children, opened with $3.2 million. Kevin Costner’s “Horizon: An American Odyssey” rounded out the top five with $1.9 million. The expensive Western epic was partially self-financed by the “Yellowstone” star and is being distributed by Warner Bros. and New Line. Costner has already finished a sequel, which hits theaters in August, and is filming a third. Ultimately, he wants to make four films about westward expansion. However, the disastrous $16.7 million domestic total of the first “Horizon” and the scathing reviews it received have raised questions about the sustainability of his epic vision.

Last year’s Fourth of July was a lackluster event, with the religious drama “The Voice of Freedom” taking in $14.2 million, beating out “Indiana Jones and the Tablet of Destiny,” the struggling adventure series that made a disappointing $11.7 million over the holiday.

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