Disney-Pixar’s Finding Dory has been virtually unstoppable throughout its first three weeks in theaters. With back-to-back-to-back box office weekend wins, the animated sequel to 2003’s hit Finding Nemo has claimed a whopping $381.7 million in domestic sales and $555.6 million internationally; plus, it has outperformed its cinematic competition thrice over. But is that trend about to end?
This weekend Illumination-Universal’s animated pic The Secret Life of Pets hits theaters and is expected to oust Finding Dory as the reigning box office champ.
Per Variety, The Secret Life of Pets looks to dethrone its fellow in family-friendly fare with an estimated $70 million domestic opening in 4,300 theaters across North America, after earning $31 million in international markets already. The film offers a similar personification of animated animals concept as Dory — although it takes place above sea level and centers on domesticated pets and their adventures once their owners go off on all of their humanoid activities — as well as another of the year’s biggest overall successes, Disney’s Zootopia.
Early reviews came in strong for The Secret Life of Pets, which marks the animated feature debuts of comedic actors Louis C.K. (as Max, a Jack Russell Terrier), Modern Family‘s Eric Stonestreet (as Duke, the new dog of Max’s family), and Kevin Hart (a white rabbit named Snowball). The three star as a trio of pets who team up to escape an underground army of abandoned animals that seeks revenge against happy pets and their owners. They’re joined by animation vets Albert Brooks (who also stars in Dory and its predecessor, Finding Nemo) and Jenny Slate (Zootopia), as well as Ellie Kemper (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), Lake Bell, Dana Carvey, Steve Coogan, and more.
The Secret Life of Pets was co-directed by Chris Renaud and Yarrow Cheney, who worked together on Despicable Me and The Lorax. The script for the pic was written by Ken Daurio (Horton Hears a Who!, Despicable Me, Hop), Brian Lynch (Puss in Boots, Minions), and Cinco Paul. Additionally, Illumination will take a leaf out of the Pixar playbook by releasing a new short film exclusively alongside The Secret Life of Pets theatrical release. The never-before-seen short features the Minions, which all five Pets filmmakers have worked with at some point or another, called Mower Minions.
Finding Dory enjoyed a record box office performance on its opening weekend — earning $136.1 million, which handily out-measured fellow debut films Central Intelligence and The Conjuring 2. Finding Dory also claimed the all-time biggest domestic opening weekend for an animated film, ousting Shrek the Third‘s initial earnings of $121.6 million in 2007. Dory went on to outperform its second-week competition as well, including Independence Day: Resurgence and The Shallows, and enjoyed a three-peat domination series over Independence Day weekend, adding another $41.9 million to its loot pile and besting The Legend of Tarzan, The Purge: Election Year, and Steven Spielberg’s The BFG. It is expected to bring in $20 million on its fourth weekend and finish second below The Secret Life of Pets.
The Secret Life of Pets opens to U.S. theaters on July 8th.