Ghostbusted by Pets
By David Mumpower and Kim Hollis
July 17, 2016
Women battled pets this weekend in one of the strangest box office showdowns in ages. The pets had an unfair advantage heading into the weekend, as they’d already spent a week absolutely eviscerating all comers. The women weren’t as well positioned. They were battling a venomous combination of hostile buzz and unreasonable expectations. In an unexpected turn of events, the battle wasn’t at all lopsided and while it wasn’t quite a photo finish, the two combatants both walked away from the conflict feeling good about themselves.
Yes, the number one movie in North America this weekend was the one that most observers expected. The Secret Life of Pets, the spiritual sequel to the Minions/Despicable Me franchise from Illumination Entertainment, continued to charm audiences young and old alike. Presuming actuals hold, its second weekend gross of $50.6 million places it on the shortlist of movies that earned more than $50 million in a weekend multiple times.
The charming family film fell 52% from its historic opening weekend of $104.3 million. That leads to an odd bit of trivia. Animated movies have finished in first place at the box office for five consecutive weekends, a cool streak that probably ends on Friday, although the release of the next Ice Age could extend it.
For perspective, Toy Story 3 dropped 46%, Minions fell 57%, Despicable Me 2 depreciated 48%, Finding Dory declined 46%, and Inside Out dropped only 42%. So, The Secret Life of Pets declined just a bit more than average for such a massive animated opener during its second weekend.
Now that we’ve split hairs about holdover appeal in its second frame, let’s focus on the positives. After only 10 days in theaters, The Secret Life of Pets has already crossed the $200 million barrier, which is absolutely amazing for a new intellectual property. Sitting at $203.2 million, it’s certain to fly by $300 million, which means it’ll finish at least $50 million higher than the original Despicable Me.
Any international appeal – it’s already grossed more than $50 million overseas – is a serendipitous bonus at this point. The film has already accomplished what every distributor wants for its releases. The Secret Life of Pets only has a production budget of $75 million, meaning it’s 100% in the black based solely on North American ticket revenue.
Although most forecasters were predicting that The Secret Life of Pets would win the weekend, not many of them believed that the final results would be as close as they were. Ghostbusters, the female-driven reboot of the classic 1984 comedy, finished just behind the animated film with a solid $46 million. It also added $19 million from international theaters.
A third Ghostbusters movie had been an on again, off again project ever since 1989 when Ghostbusters II was released in 1989. Over the years, many concepts were discussed, and a version where Bill Murray himself becomes a ghost came near to production, but was scrapped after Harold Ramis, who played Egon and co-wrote the original film, passed away.