Gru and his mischievous minions are hoping to fulfill their patriotic duty and once again set off major fireworks at the Fourth of July box office.

Illumination and Universal’s Despicable Me 4, opening Wednesday in theaters across the U.S., looks to post an opening day gross of $28 million for a five-day holiday debut of $120 million, including $70 million for the three-day weekend, according to early returns. That’s in line with expectations and a strong start for the fourth outing in the main franchise, and the sixth in the Despicable Me/Minions series, which combined ranks as the top-grossing animated franchise of all time.

DM4 should have no trouble wresting the box office crown from Pixar and Disney blockbuster Inside Out 2, which scored the top debut of the year when opening to $154 million in early June. It has already cleared $1 billion in global ticket sales in record time, or 19 days.

Even with the entry of DM4, don’t expect Inside Out 2 to get run off the road by the Minions. Both films are good news for the animated family marketplace, which was decimated by the COVID-19 pandemic but is now on the rebound.

The first Despicable Me opened over the July 9-11 weekend in 2010 to $56 million. The series then shifted its release earlier and became a Fourth of July staple. 2013’s Despicable Me 2 likewise opened on July 3, a Wednesday, and posted a five-day debut of $143 million. That was followed by $120 million five-day holiday start for the threequel in 2017.

In the first Despicable Me movie in seven years, Gru — the world’s favorite supervillain-turned-Anti-Villain League-agent voiced by Steve Carell — ushers in new era of Minions mayhem as he, Lucy (Kristen Wigg) and their girls (Miranda Cosgrove, Dana Gaier and Madison Pola) welcome a new son, Gru Jr., who is intent on tormenting his dad.

But Gru and his brood are forced to go on the run after facing off with a new-nemesis voiced by Will Ferrell and his femme-fatale girlfriend (Sofía Vergara). Other new characters are voiced by Joey King, Stephen Colbert and Chloe Fineman, while Pierre Coffin returns as the iconic voice of the Minions, and Steve Coogan returns as Silas Ramsbottom.

Chris Renaud — co-creator of the Minions — directed from a script by Mike White (White Lotus) and Despicable Me veteran Ken Daurio. Patrick Delage co-directed, with Illumination founder and CEO Chris Meledandri producing alongside Brett Hoffman.

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