July 2013 is full of strong tentpoles, but it might be an animated villain named Gru who triumphs over such A-list stars as Johnny Depp, Adam Sander and Hugh Jackman.
Despicable Me 2 has big shoes to fill. 2010's Despicable Me shattered expectations by raking in an impressive $543 million globally--$251.5 million domestically and $291.5 million overseas--despite opening with tough competitors such as The Twilight Saga: Eclipse and Toy Story 3 in the market.
Luckily, Universal's marketing plan for Despicable Me 2 is off to a great start with plenty of time left before the July 3 release. Universal began teasing the sequel this past March with a simple teaser featuring Gru's beloved minions belting out an unconventional version of "Barbara Ann" by The Beach Boys. Since then, the studio has rolled out more teaser footage of the minions in order to ramp up anticipation. It's working. The official Facebook page is rapidly closing in on 6.3 million likes. That's impressive considering that the Ice Age page has a little more than 4.9 million.
Despicable Me 2 could end up pushing the franchise into Ice Age territory based on how strong the online response has been to the sequel. The first Ice Age made $176.4 million domestically and $206.9 million overseas in 2002 for a global total of $383 million in 2002. Ice Age 2 followed four years later with $195.3 million domestically and $460.1 million overseas for a global cume of $655.4 million.
Franchise films performed incredibly well overseas in 2012, and that trend is bound to continue in 2013. Despicable Me 2 should have no problem toppling its predecessor's $291.5 million overseas tally.
Despicable Me 2 won't have July to itself. A healthy list of live-action films with A-list stars will also be vying for supremacy.
The Lone Ranger with Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer opens the same day as Despicable Me 2. Depp re-teams with his Pirates of the Caribbean director Gore Verbinski in the Disney release, so the bar is already set very high. Yet even though the POTC franchise turned into a billion-dollar property, it's impossible to ignore the fact that Depp hit a bit of snag with Dark Shadows this past summer. Lone Ranger is also based on a property that most teens and young children aren't familiar with.
July 12 brings the release of Grown Ups 2 with Adam Sandler's gang and Pacific Rim, a new sci-fi flick from Guillermo del Toro. Neither film will have what it takes to beat Despicable Me 2 globally. The first Grown Ups film was a surprise $271.4 million global hit. If Grown Ups 2 manages to exceed that total, it won't be by much. Pacific Rim could easily turn into one of the summer's biggest sleepers, but it doesn't have an A-list star to anchor it.
Three films open wide on July 19: R.I.P.D., a supernatural action comedy starring Jeff Daniels and Ryan Reynolds; Turbo, an animated flick from DreamWorks that Fox will release; and The Conjuring, a new horror film from Warner Bros. Turbo will certainly sway families away from Despicable Me 2, but it doesn't come with same brand recognition. R.I.P.D. and The Conjuring could both turn into solid, mid-level hits.
The Wolverine has July 26 all to itself. Based on the continuing popularity its title character, The Wolverine should have no problem living up to the $373.1 million global haul of X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Keep a close eye on this one. It could turn out to be one of the summer's biggest hits, and it's easily one of July's most promising efforts.
July 2013 comes to a close with The Smurfs 2 on July 31. 2011's The Smurfs shocked the industry by raking in $563.1 million globally. Repeating that success won't be easy for the sequel, but if it does then it could give Despicable Me 2 a run for its money.