IN THE HOLIDAY RACE between masked men and minions, “Despicable Me 2” nearly tripled the take of “The Lone Ranger” at the domestic box office, grossing a whopping $142-million over its first five days.

The Independence Day weekend, though, unmasked the problems that have faced “The Lone Ranger” (from burgeoning budget to generally poor reviews): The Disney film grossed just $48.9-million in its five-day debut — meaning the Western with the $225-million production budget has very little chance to make back its money. The “Despicable Me” sequel’s budget, by contrast, was roughly one-third of that.

The animated Universal/Illumination sequel helped propel the three-day weekend to a Fourth of July record take of $222-million domestically — besting the Independence Day 2011 mark.

“Despicable Me 2” has already grossed a massive $293.2-million globally — or nearly $60-million a day — according to studio estimates released Sunday; final numbers are due Monday. The film’s international gross is more than $150-million.

Counting overseas totals, “The Lone Ranger” has grossed a flagging $73.2-million — putting it in the fiscal company of Disney’s big 2012 disappointment, “John Carter.”

Among other debuts: “Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain” — the comedian’s concert documentary from Lionsgate/Summit — has grossed an impressive $17.5-million since Wednesday.

[BOX-OFFICE DUEL: What should win the weekend? A breakdown]

[‘DESPICABLE ME’: Film wins weekend with ‘surprisingly’ strong debut]

Minions and Lucy (voiced by Kristen Wiig) in "Despicable Me 2.” (UNIVERSAL PICTURES)


* “Despicable Me 2” had the second-biggest five-day total of the year for a domestic debut — just ahead of “Man of Steel” ($140.7-million) and trailing only “Iron Man 3” ($196.7-million). “DM2” is also already among the top-10 films of the year.

* “Despicable Me 2” ($82.5-million domestic) had the third-largest Fourth of July weekend total ever, behind only “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” ($97.9-million) and “Spider-Man 2” ($88.2-million).

* If the film’s $82.51-million figure holds up Monday, “Despicable Me 2” will edge past the Pixar prequel “Monsters University” ($82.42-million) for the fourth-biggest domestic opening ever for an animated film.

* Illumination Entertainment’s “Despicable Me” franchise has now grossed $836.3-million worldwide.

* Gore Verbinski and Johnny Depp have made five films together (including three “Pirates” film and “Rango”); ”The Lone Ranger” is their first film to open with a domestic gross south of $30-million.

Here are the top-10 films, with their three-day weekend totals (overseas totals in parentheses where applicable) according to Box Office Mojo:

1. “Despicable Me 2,” $82.5 million. ($88.8 million).

2. “The Lone Ranger,” $29.4 million ($24.3 million).

3. “The Heat,” $25 million ($4.7 million).

4. “Monsters University,” $19.6 million ($29.5 million).

5. “World War Z,” $18.2 million ($45.2 million).

6. “White House Down,” $13.5 million ($6.8 million).

7. “Man of Steel,” $11.4 million ($21.3 million).

8. “Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain,” $10.1 million.

9. “This Is the End,” $5.8 million ($900,000).

10. “Now You See Me,” $2.8 million ($8.5 million).