Animated films have been big business in 2016 and that trend doesn't appear to be slowing down. The newest family-friendly entry of the year had a great opening night. The Secret Life of Pets is expected to finish the weekend in first place at the domestic box office, and their Thursday night preview take of $5.3 million is an indication that they're on the right track.
The box office champion for the past three weeks has been Pixar's Finding Dory, however, it looks as if another set of talking animals are on their way to finally dethrone Dory, as The Secret Life of Pets is tracking to take as much as $70 million or more this weekend. According to Variety, Pets successfully overcame their only other significant competition during Thursday previews quite easily; Pets took in $5.3 million, while Mike & Dave Need Wedding Dates brought in $1.6 million.
While the Thursday night numbers for The Secret Life of Pets are not the sort that set box office records, they're still solid. The last film from Illumination Entertainment, Minions, brought in $6.2 million on opening night and went on to gross $115 million in its opening weekend and over $1 billion worldwide. Even if Pets isn't looking like it'll be quite that successful, doing a large fraction of that opening will make the film a massive success. With only a $75 million budget, the movie could pay for itself on opening weekend alone.
The success of animation this year has been nearly universal. Kung-Fu Panda 3, Zootopia, The Angry Birds Movie, and, Finding Dory have all been commercially successful and most have been critically appreciated as well- Angry Birds is the only real exception in that regard. The Secret Life of Pets has received solid reviews as well, so the trend appears to be intact.
2016 is hardly finished for animation either, three of these studios have releases planned for the holiday season. Dreamworks will have the Justin Timberlake/Anna Kendrick-led Trolls, Disney will unveil their newest princess, Moana, and Illumination will continue with the talking animals via the pop music infused Sing. In addition, there's one final summer animated release planned: Laika will have their next stop-motion feature, Kubo and the Two Strings, in theaters August 19.
Are you planning to check out The Secret Life of Pets this weekend? Which was your favorite animated film this year? Let us know in the comments below.