'Despicable' Drives July to Second-Highest Monthly Gross Ever
Continuing the Summer's winning streak, aggregate domestic box office in the month of July came in at an excellent $1.37 billion. That isn't quite a new record for the month, though it does make it the second-highest-grossing month of all-time behind July 2011 ($1.395 billion).

Overall, Summer 2013 box office is up 11 percent year-to-year. Even if August is awful—which is possible, though unlikely—the season will still be the highest-grossing one ever at the domestic box office.

July box office was driven primarily by Despicable Me 2, which earned as much as the next three titles combined. Building on goodwill from the first movie, the animated sequel finished the month with a fantastic $314 million, which ranks sixth all-time among animated movies. Overseas, it's doing fantastic business as well, and could end its run with over $800 million worldwide. This is great news for Universal Pictures, which already has a Minions spin-off scheduled for next Christmas.

In a distant second place, Grown Ups 2 took in $106.7 million through nearly three weeks in theaters. The movie is star Adam Sandler's 14th to reach $100 million, and is a nice recovery for him after a few modest disappointments. Ultimately, though, Grown Ups 2 will fall well-short of its predecessor's $162 million total.

The Heat opened on the final weekend of June, but held up so well that it wound up in third place in July with $104.9 million. The Sandra Bullock/Melissa McCarthy buddy comedy has so far earned $144 million, and will wind up being the highest-grossing comedy of Summer 2013 with around $160 million.

The Conjuring always looked like a strong horror outing, though at this point it appears to be transcending the genre's box office limitations. The movie had the top debut ever for an original R-rated horror movie ($41.9 million), and then remarkably dropped by just 47 percent in its second weekend. Through the end of the month it has earned $92.3 million, and it's on pace for a final gross north of $120 million.

Among online commenters, Pacific Rim seemed to be one of the most-anticipated movies of Summer 2013. Unfortunately, that didn't quite translate at the domestic box office: the Guillermo Del Toro robots vs. monsters movie earned $87.4 million through the end of July, and could ultimately miss $100 million. It is doing great business in some overseas areas—particularly Asia, where it's just getting started in China—and could wind up with around $400 million worldwide. That's a fine tally, though the movie's high cost (around $200 million) makes a sequel seem like a long shot.

June holdover Monsters University got beat up pretty bad by Despicable Me 2, though it still ended the month of July with a total over $256 million. That puts it in the upper-half of Pixar movies; it performed noticeably better than Cars 2, but was way off from Toy Story 3.

Finally, Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain collected $31.7 million, which is over four times as much as Hart's last movie, Laugh at My Pain, earned in 2011. It also makes this the fourth-highest-grossing stand-up comedy movie ever and one of the biggest success stories of the Summer.

Late July release The Wolverine was neither a win nor a disappointment: the movie earned $69 million in its first six days, which is significantly below X-Men Origins: Wolverine but about on par with X-Men: First Class. It could wind up being the lowest-grossing entry in the X-Men franchise at the domestic box office, though it's on pace to more than make up for that with strong overseas grosses.

July's biggest disappointment was easily The Lone Ranger. The mega-budget Western from the team behind Pirates of the Caribbean opened to an underwhelming $48.7 million over its five-day Fourth of July weekend, though it quickly cratered after that and ended the month with just $85.9 million in the bank.

At the end of the day, it will make less at the domestic box office than notorious Jerry Bruckheimer flop Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time ($90.8 million). Even worse, it's not attracting much interest overseas—not a huge surprise, given the historic limitations of the Western genre—and it's going to wind up losing Disney a lot of money. Not to worry, though: Disney has already earned over $1.8 billion worldwide this Summer from Iron Man 3 and Monsters University, so they should be alright.

DreamWorks Animation's Turbo crashed and burned with just $61.6 million in its first two weeks. The movie opened just two weeks after Despicable Me 2, and was clearly hurt by the glut of options for family audiences this Summer. With additional competition coming from The Smurfs 2 and Planes, it's likely that Turbo falls short of $100 million, which would make it the first DreamWorks movie to do so since 2006's Flushed Away.

Red 2 grossed just $38.4 million through its first 13 days, and is going to fall way short of its predecessor ($90.4 million). Finally, R.I.P.D. bombed with just $27.3 million over the same time period.

Through the end of July, year-to-date box office is at $6.66 billion, which is down just one percent from 2012. In comparison, going in to the Summer, 2013 was trailing 2012 by 12 percent.

After what should be a stronger August, 2013 and 2012 will be running about even. From there, it's tough to tell whether 2013 can go on to set a new yearly record. The big three blockbusters should be a push: Thor: The Dark World, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug should add up to roughly the same as Skyfall, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. From there, it will come down to the smaller movies, and it's impossible to say whether this year's line-up trumps last year's releases.

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July Calendar Grosses

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Year-to-Date Comparison