Box Office: 'Secret Life of Pets' Debuts to Massive $103.2 Million

Sun Jul 10, 2016 1:30pm EDT
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By Brent Lang

LOS ANGELES ( - "The Secret Life of Pets" dominated the weekend box office, racking up a massive $103.2 million and launching the first new franchise of the summer.

Its success is a feather in the cap for Illumination chief Chris Meledandri, confirming his status among the ranks of animation giants. The family film, which explores what dogs, cats and other animal companions do while their owners are busy at work, cost an economical $75 million to produce, roughly half of what most studios spend making animated movies. Universal is backing the picture, which launched across 4,370 locations.

"Illumination just has a way of creating 'want to see' movies," said Nick Carpou, Universal's domestic distribution chief. "They make movies that resonate with audiences."

And ones that spawn toylines. The cuddly creatures that populate "Pets" seem tailor made to sell stuffed animals and t-shirts, creating a financial windfall for the studio. The film deftly exploited dog and cat obsessed moviegoers to appeal to both parents and children. In the United States alone, Americans are expected to spend more than $62 billion in 2016 on their pets.

"Somebody at Illumination is popping the champagne and pouring out the Kibble," said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at comScore. "The love that people have for their fish, their bird, their dogs, or their hamsters is demonstrated by their insatiable appetite for a movie like this."

"The Secret Life of Pets" easily supplanted Disney and Pixar's "Finding Dory" from first place on the box office charts -- a ranking it has held for the three previous weeks. The sequel to "Finding Nemo" slid to second place with $20.4 million, having made $422.6 million to lap "Captain America: Civil War" as the highest-grossing film of the year on a domestic basis. It also ranks as the highest-grossing animated film in North America, unseating "Toy Story 3."

The weekend's other new release, Fox's "Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates," opened to $16.6 million at 2,982 sites for a fourth place finish. The comedy about a pair of party animal brothers (Zac Efron and Adam DeVine) who enlist two women (Anna Kendrick and Aubrey Plaza) to accompany them to their sister's wedding, cost $33 million to make. Chernin Entertainment produced the film. Its audience was nearly evenly split between the genders, with women making up 52% of ticket buyers.

"We were very opportunistic about this date," said Chris Aronson, Fox's domestic distribution chief. "This seemed to be a good time to release an R-rated comedy."   Continued...