Despicable Me 3
, the animated sequel from Comcast Corp's Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment, led the box office in its North American debut with sales that missed expectations, an unimpressive win in a summer of duds from Hollywood.
Following the success of last year's related feature Minions, the new instalment opened with weekend ticket sales of US$75.4 million ($103m) in the US and Canada, researcher ComScore estimated yesterday. BoxOfficePro.com was forecasting US$89m in ticket sales in its first weekend - less than Minions but more than 2013's Despicable Me 2.
The third or fourth go-round in a Hollywood movie series is often the tipping point for fan interest. Yet attention has grown in the little yellow henchmen who have now starred in three Despicable movies and the one Minions feature.
In the latest film, comedians Steve Carell and Kristen Wiig reprise their roles as reformed supervillains Gru and Lucy. After being fired from the anti-villain league for failing to stop the theft of the world's largest diamond, Gru discovers he has a long-lost twin brother who wants to be a supervillain.
The movie scored 63 per cent positive reviews, according to aggregator RottenTomatoes.com. The production budget wasn't disclosed but the previous Despicable Me 2 cost US$76m, according to researcher Box Office Mojo.
Two other new releases provided little challenge to Despicable 3. Sony Corp's Baby Driver and the Warner Bros comedy The House were second and sixth respectively.
Baby Driver opened with weekend sales of US$21m, compared with the US$19m forecast at Hollywood Stock Exchange.
Critics acclaimed the Sony heist drama, giving it 97 per cent positive reviews, according to RottenTomatoes. Ansel Elgort features as a young getaway driver forced to work for a crime boss, played by Kevin Spacey, and tested on a life-threatening heist. The movie had a budget, before marketing costs, of US$34m, according to the studio.
The Time Warner comedy The House, featuring Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler, collected an estimated US$9m, versus a prediction of US$11m from Box Office Guru.
Ferrell plays a dad who persuades his friends to start an illegal casino to help replace his daughter's squandered college fund.