Illumination Entertainment officially cemented itself as a major name in animation, with their latest film The Secret Life of Pets taking the highest opening ever for an original animated film. Thanks to its strong marketing campaign and appealing premise, the film opened to a phenomenal $103.1 million. That’s way higher than last years Inside Out and only around $12 million lower than Minions.
It’s really hard to overstate just how impressive this debut is. Even with the marketing, the premise of talking animals is usually not one that can lead to such a monstrous debut. Disney’s Zootopia had zero competition and ended up $28 million lower in its opening weekend. Granted, that was a February release as opposed to July, but it gives an indication of how credible Illumination is as a brand.
In fact, the only ones not celebrating this release are Sony Pictures. Next week, they have the highly controversial Ghostbusters set to open, and with a big chunk of the family audience taken out, it’s looking like Pets will be able to maintain first place next weekend.
Also opening was wedding comedy Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, which took in a solid $16 million. That’s notably above the $10-$12 million expectations going into the weekend, but still isn’t a great start for a film that cost $33 million. For comparisons sake, Dirty Grandpa opened with around $11 million, while Neighbors 2 took in $21 million. Overall, this is a fine start for the R rated comedy, which should be able to pull in over $40 million by the end of its run.
Surprisingly, second place didn’t go to Finding Dory this weekend. Instead, The Legend of Tarzan held surprisingly well after its breakout 4th of July weekend, down just 47% to $20.6 million. That brings it up to $80 million in just two weeks, and should be able to top the $100 million mark without breaking a sweat. At this point, it seems likely that the film winds up with over $110 million, making it one of the biggest surprise hits of the year.
Don’t feel too bad for Finding Dory, however, as the film managed to top fellow Disney release Captain America: Civil War to become the highest grossing 2016 release to date.
The Purge: Election Year took an unsurprisingly sharp fall, down 63% to $11 million. Believe it or not, that’s actualy the best hold yet for any film in the franchise. That’s especially surprising consdering it seemed like the Fourth of July weekend would attract extra attention. The first film fell over 70% in its second weekend, but that was mostly due to the very poor reception and word of mouth. By the third film, however, it became pretty clear what it was going to be, and audiences seemed to respond accordingly. With $58 million in just two weeks, it looks like Election Year will be able to pass the original film, and could even top the $71 million total of Anarchy. Don’t be surprised if a fourth Purge film gets greenlit any day now.
The final release from last weekend was The BFG, which failed to save face in its second week of release. Suffering a 60% drop, the film took in just $7.6 million. That’s less than half of what The Legend of Tarzan has made with the same amount of time in theaters, and about 2/3’s of what The Purge Election Year has made, despite costing fourteen times as much to produce.
In the limited release market, the only noteworthy opening was Captain Fantastic with a so-so $98K from four theaters. Given the strong reviews and appealing premise, it seemed like this really had the potential to break out, but a $24K per theater average for a film like this isn’t anything to write home about. It should be expanding in the next few weeks, but don’t expect it to get into more than 200-300 theaters at the most.
Action comedy Central Intelligence was able to top the century mark this weekend, bringing its new total to $108 million. Considering its still in sixth place, it should be able to wind up with around $120-$130 million by the end of its run. Speaking of which, The Conjuring 2 is just about to hit that same number, with a total of $99.3 million after 5 weeks of release.