‘DESPICABLE 2’ vs. ‘LONE RANGER’:


ENOUGH FOR A MINION: Groo’s workers ride with Lucy (voiced by Kristen Wiig) in "Despicable Me 2.” (Universal Pictures/.)

A NEW HOLLYWOOD WEEK, but the same ol’ figurative question: Can a six-shooter beat a pixel?

Action-adventure “popcorn” blockbusters can make for big box office, of course — but come summer, the bigger animated films often mount a show of force. Last weekend, for instance, Disney/Pixar’s reigning “Monsters University” topped such effects-heavy flicks as “Man of Steel,” “World War Z” and, perhaps most notably, the letdown debut of “White House Down.”

Today, into the breach and gaping expectations, steps the launch of “The Lone Ranger” and its $200-million-plus budget. But the boot’s on the other foot for Disney, because its Armie Hammer/Johnny Depp behemoth is dueling with the debut of — most menacing of all — an animated sequel.

It’s the lawman vs. the minions — and Groo against Tonto.

“Despicable Me 2” also lands today, and enjoys not only a built-in fan base, but also a production budget that’s roughly one-third that of Jerry Bruckheimer’s Western warhorse.

Both “Despicable Me 2” and “Lone Ranger” are reporredly debuting at nearly 4,000 theaters, and both will benefit from a five-day holiday-weekend take. But the Universal cartoon (featuring the voice of Steve Carell) is expected to gross nearly $120-million over the holiday (a monster start) while “Ranger” is expected to gross roughly half that, according to Variety — meaning that Gore Verbinski’s latest big-action film will need to do some whopping business overseas to make up the shortfall.

Once again, the edge goes to the animation.

If only Depp were starring in “The Lone Rango.”


SITTING DUCK (AND CROW). Johnny Depp’s Tonto and Armie Hammer’s Lone Ranger are up to their necks against “Despicable Me 2.” (Peter Mountain/.)
Writer/artist/visual storyteller Michael Cavna is creator of the "Comic Riffs" column and graphic-novel reviewer for The Post's Book World. He relishes sharp-eyed satire in most any form.
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