Box office hits and misses: ‘Despicable Me 3’ is tops, but ‘Baby Driver’ has wheels

Baby Driver

Weekend box office results played out as expected: The weekend was won by Universal’s animated sequel Despicable Me 3. But it was second-place finisher Baby Driver that generated just as much — if not more — buzz among audiences and industry pundits.

The fourth installment of the Despicable Me franchise after 2010’s Despicable Me, 2013’s Despicable Me 2, and the 2015 prequel film Minions came in slightly below industry estimates going into the weekend. It was received well by critics and audiences — better than Minions but less positively than the first two Despicable Me movies — but its $75.4 million debut fell below pundits’ $80-90 million predictions for the film.

Still, with the four films in the series collectively earning more than $1 billion domestically and $2.8 billion worldwide so far, the latest installment’s premiere certainly won’t disappoint Universal (particularly given the movie’s relatively low $80 million price tag).

# Title Weekend U.S. Total Worldwide Total
1. Despicable Me 3 $75.4M $75.4M $192.3M
2. Baby Driver $21M $30M $36.8M
3. Transformers: The Last Knight $17M $102.1M $429.9M
4. Wonder Woman $16.1M $346.6M $708.4M
5. Cars 3 $9.5M $120.7M $173.8M
6. The House $9M $9M $11.7M
7. 47 Meters Down $4.6M $32.5M $32.5M
8. The Beguiled $3.2M $3.5M $3.5M
9. The Mummy $2.7M $74.5M $349.6M
10. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales $2.4M $165.4M $708.6M

Coming in second was director Edgar Wright’s car-chase crime musical Baby Driver, which turned a wave of positive buzz from professional critics into a $21 million premiere — the biggest opening weekend so far for one of Wright’s films. The movie’s “A-” grade on audience-polling site CinemaScore was accompanied by a 97-percent approval rating on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, and its premiere easily topped that of 2010’s Scott Pilgrim vs. the World ($10.6 million), the previous record-holder for Wright’s best premiere.

If anything, the success of Baby Driver indicates that word-of-mouth buzz is still a potent motivator for ticket sales, and that the rumors of the death of original films were greatly exaggerated.

The only other new release to crack the weekend’s top ten films was the comedy The House, led by top-tier stars Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler. That film didn’t fare nearly as well as Baby Driver, and only managed a $9 million premiere — which was right in line with its negative reviews (16-percent approval from professional critics, and a “B-” score from audiences). Ferrell and Poehler’s films are typically reliable, though, so The House probably won’t damage either actor’s career at this point.

Also noteworthy was the continued resilience of Wonder Woman, which still failed to experience the sort of late-run drop that most blockbusters go through after a few weeks.

The acclaimed Warner Bros. Pictures superhero movie fell just 37 percent from last week’s ticket sales, and its $16.1 million of domestic gross brought its U.S. total to $346.6 million. It’s already the highest-grossing film domestically in WB’s superhero universe so far, and if it continues its strong run, its $708.4 million could challenge Suicide Squad ($745.6 million) and Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice ($873.3 million) down the road.

If anyone can do it, though, it’s Wonder Woman.

The biggest release this upcoming week is Spider-Man: Homecoming, which will almost certainly win the weekend, and just might break a few records, too. That’s no surprise, but if the box-office performance for Homecoming matches up with the wildly positive reviews it received so far, we could be looking at a fresh new Spider-franchise coming out of Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios’ landmark partnership.