Pets Slaughter Mike and Dave
By David Mumpower and Kim Hollis
July 10, 2016
The only concern people might have had is if quality were an issue. We’ve witnessed countless projects die quickly in recent months due to their harsh reviews. Social media word-of-mouth is a powerful, sometimes crippling force. Thankfully, The Secret Life of Pets is well-reviewed, currently 76 percent fresh at Rotten Tomatoes, including 75 percent among top critics. It also merited an A- Cinemascore, which notably increased to A+ for the under-18 crowd. That brings us to the other marketing key for Pets. Whereas most animated films primarily target families, this one had a secret tactic. Adults without children still own pets, thereby expanding the usual family demographic into virtually the entirety of society. Universal crafted the rarest of rare four-quadrant animated movie, and that strategy has paid immediate, record-setting dividends this weekend.
One final note: The Secret Life of Pets had a budget of $75 million. If you’re thinking that everybody involved with this project is getting a raise, you’re right. They’ve crafted a $300+ million domestic performer that will have widespread international appeal (it already earned $42.6 million prior to its North American release). The first film in what’s sure to be a franchise has vastly outperformed Despicable Me, the title that made Illumination Entertainment. The Secret Life of Pets is a perfect project.
Second place goes to The Legend of Tarzan, which just edged out Finding Dory with $20.6 million. It fell 47% from its debut frame, which was a bit of a shocker even if it still can’t be quantified as a real success given the $180 million budget. The Legend of Tarzan has now accumulated $81.4 million from domestic play dates and adds another $54 million from its release overseas.
Finding Dory took an expected tumble this weekend given that The Secret Life of Pets was dominating screens, hearts, and minds. A 51% drop to $20.4 million still brings the North American total up to $422.6 million, which means that Finding Dory is now the top domestic earner of 2016. It surpassed Captain America: Civil War’s $406.2 million to accomplish this feat. It still has a ways to go before it’s done, and hasn’t even received a full rollout in overseas venues. By the time it’s said and done, it may hold the top spot for both domestic and worldwide, a mighty feat given the power of 2016’s top tier films (Zootopia, The Jungle Book, Captain America: Civil War). Finding Dory has earned a solid $220 million from international theaters thus far.
Our second new release this weekend winds up in fourth place. Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, a comedy featuring Zac Efron, Adam Devine, Aubrey Plaza and Anna Kendrick had a somewhat soft weekend total of $16.6 million. Comedy has been tough in 2016, as studios have struggled to find a movie in the genre that provokes a significant audience response. While $16.6 million isn’t a terrible debut given the $33 million budget, it definitely feels like there was some money left on the table. Alternately, it’s possible people don’t find Adam Levine as funny as we do. If so, they're wrong and we're right. Either way, given the film’s 41% rating at Rotten Tomatoes and B Cinemascore, it’s probably not going to find its way to cult status.