Despicable Me 2's minions have run away with the US box office for the second week in a row.
With 44.8 million dollars in North American ticket sales at the weekend, the animated sequel outdid the debuts of the Adam Sandler comedy Grown Ups 2 and director Guillermo del Toro's monsters-versus-robots action film Pacific Rim.
The weekend's number one movie featuring Steve Carell as the voice of ex-supervillain Gru made another 55.5 million dollars overseas. That brought its global two-week total to 472.4 million, according to studio estimates.
"This has become the July film to beat right now," said Paul Dergarabedian, president of the box office tracking division of Hollywood.com. "There's something about the minions that audiences just love."
The third-place finish of Pacific Rim, with 38.3 million dollars in receipts, represented a disappointing start in the US for Warner Bros and partner Legendary Entertainment. Figures released by the studio showed it doing better overseas.
The movie took in 53 million dollars from 38 markets outside the US and Canada, representing about half its overseas footprint. It has yet to open in China or Japan, the home of the movie's co-star, Rinko Kikuchi.
Warner Bros said the debut of Pacific Rim in several countries such as Russia and South Korea was better than that of other films that have gone on to gross more than 300 million dollars internationally, like Transformers 2 and Prometheus.
The movie had an estimated production budget of 185 million dollars, not including the millions spent on marketing, so there is still the opportunity for it to make its money back.
Disney's The Lone Ranger, starring Johnny Depp as Tonto, took in 11.1 million dollars domestically in its second week, falling into fifth place behind The Heat starring Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy, which brought in another 14 million in its third week. Stock market analysts predict Disney to book a big loss on the film.
The film was temporarily halted in July 2011 to rein in its budget, but production expenses alone are estimated to have exceeded 200 million dollars. So far, it has pulled in just 119.1 million worldwide, roughly half of which is kept by cinema owners. Eric Wold, an analyst with investment bank B Riley and Co, pegged Disney's possible loss on the film at about 100 million dollars.