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Box office preview: Despicable Me 3 to cause Minion mayhem at No. 1

‘Baby Driver,’ ‘The Beguiled,’ ‘The House’ also enter the fray in wide release

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Illumination/Universal Pictures; Wilson Webb/Sony Pictures; Ben Rothstein/Focus Features; Glen Wilson/Warner Bros.

The weekend box office is shaping up for a dose of Minion mayhem in the days ahead, as Illumination and Universal prepare to unveil the third installment in the popular Despicable Me franchise. With little in terms of major competition — Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler front the adult comedy The House, while Ansel Elgort burns rubber for action fans in Baby Driver — the studio’s latest partnership with the animation outfit is poised to do major business once again, eyeing a No. 1 debut atop the domestic chart.

Opening at a record 4,529 sites in North America, Despicable Me 3 — which sees the return of the voice of series staple Steve Carell — will saturate the market over the Fourth of July weekend, likely falling in line with its forerunners, all of which have found monetary success at the top of the month. Despicable Me 2 posted $83.5 million over the holiday frame in 2013, while the original title earned $56.4 million in its first weekend in early July as well. Both films went on to gross $368.1 million and $251.5 million, respectively, with 2015’s Minions spin-off posting a staggering $115.7 million throughout its debut stretch, en route to a massive $336 million from the U.S. and Canada.

If franchise tradition is on Despicable Me 3‘s side, the film is looking at an opening in the $80-90 million range between June 30 and July 2.

After speeding off with the hearts of critics out of SXSW in March, Baby Driver looks to park inside the hearts of audiences as it hits wide release, with its appealing cast (Elgort, Jon Hamm, Kevin Spacey, and Jon Bernthal star) and inherently buzzy premise (coerced into working for a ruthless crime boss, a getaway driver embarks on a rollicking, doomed heist) in tow.

At 3,226 theaters on a budget of $34 million, Baby Driver should break even by the end of its run if its premiere weekend grosses jive with studio expectations, which currently peg the film for a mid-teens-to-low-twenties bow en route to drumming up strong business on sturdy legs throughout the rest of the summer. Having opened on Wednesday, the film already drove off with a decent $5.7 million — a good sign for its prospects through Sunday, in addition to strong ticketbuyer reactions (the movie posted a rare A grade on CinemaScore) that should translate to positive word-of-mouth.

Also opening wide this weekend is The House, which reunites Ferrell and Poehler for a big screen comedy after they honed their comedic chops on Saturday Night Live. Comedy as a whole has suffered at the box office as of late, with high-profile laughers starring Amy Schumer (Snatched) and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (Baywatch) consistently underperforming with North American audiences. Both Ferrell and Poehler are bankable genre icons, however, and both of their previous starring projects scored big with audiences; Ferrell’s Daddy’s Home made $150.4 million in 2015, while Poehler’s Tina Fey collaboration Sisters nabbed $87 million that same year. Still, both films were released amid the traditionally lucrative Christmas window. The House similarly enters the fray over a holiday weekend, though comedy’s recent track record is enough to keep our projections in the modest $10-15 million ballpark.

Sofia Coppola — Cannes’ reigning Best Director recipient (only the second in history, at that) — oversees the expansion of her superb drama The Beguiled this weekend. After the critically lauded project, starring Nicole Kidman, Colin Farrell, Kirsten Dunst, and Elle Fanning, opened to stellar numbers in the specialty market last week ($57,323 per-screen average at 4 locations), the film enters theaters around the country in the hopes of domestically outperforming Coppola’s three prior theatrical releases The Bling Ring ($5.8 million), Somewhere ($1.8 million), and Marie Antoinette ($16 million).

With strong Oscar buzz on the movie’s side, it will need to perform well at the box office to carry its momentum to the Academy’s annual ceremony. If last weekend’s number are any indication, however, audiences are more than ready to fill seats.

Check out EW’s three-day June 30 – July 2 box office predictions below.

1 – Despicable Me 3 – $88 million
2 – Baby Driver – $18 million
3 – Transformers: The Last Knight – $17.2 million
4 – Wonder Woman – $17 million
5 – The House – $11 million

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