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The Secret Life of Pets 2 and Dark Phoenix

June 7 sees an interesting showdown at the box office. In one corner, Dark Phoenix, the latest and likely final chapter in a long-running cinematic superhero saga; a film based on one of the most iconic comic book storyline ever and starring one of the faces of the biggest TV show on the planet. In the other corner, is The Secret Life of Pets 2. And wouldn’t you know it, Illumination’s animated sequel might open bigger than Dark Phoenix.

Based on early tracking, Universal’s The Secret Life of Pets 2 is looking to open to around $65 million domestically over the June 7-9 weekend according to Variety. That significantly outpaces the roughly $50 million Dark Phoenix is forecasted to open to. The other release that weekend, the R-rated comedy Late Night, is projected to open to less than $10 million.

So if the tracking bears out at the box office, The Secret Life of Pets 2 will win the weekend and Dark Phoenix will have to settle for second. On the surface, it might seem strange for an animated kids movie to be outpacing a big superhero film in an established franchise, but the signs that this box office contest would have this outcome have been there for a while.

The long-range tracking from last month had the Simon Kinberg-directed X-Men film opening to between $40 million and $55 million and the updated tracking of $50 million is right in line with that. But more than how low Dark Phoenix would open at is how high The Secret Life of Pets 2 could.

The Secret Life of Pets opened to $104.3 million in 2016 on its way to hauls of $368.3 million domestically and $875 million worldwide. That $104.3 million for the first film is larger than the opening of every film in the X-Men franchise save for the two Deadpool movies.

Illumination’s movies might not have quite the acclaim of Pixar’s but kids love these movies and they make bank. The Secret Life of Pets 2 is also opening in something of a dead zone for kids’ movies. Unless you count Aladdin from two weeks prior, the only major kids’ movie in the vicinity is Toy Story 4 on June 21.

It must always be said that tracking is an inexact science and these numbers could change but it certainly is looking like The Secret Life of Pets 2 will douse Dark Phoenix’s hopes of taking the X-Men franchise out in a blaze of glory; at the box office at least, we can still hope the quality is great. Despite the strong competition from cute animated animals, an opening of $50 million would be a low point for the X-Men franchise.

The last mainline X-Men film, 2016’s X-Men: Apocalypse opened to $65 million over 3 days and $80 over the 4-day Memorial Day weekend. To date, every film about the mutants since 2000’s X-Men has opened in 1st place at the box office, with the lowest debut being 2013’s The Wolverine, which opened to $53.1 million. So a $50 million opening and second place would be disappointing in that regard.

Dark Phoenix and The Secret Life of Pets 2 both open on June 7. Check out our 2019 Release Schedule to keep track of all of this summer’s biggest movies.

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