Faced with news reports of crushing sadness and horror, America expressed its desire this week to return to the blissful ignorance of infancy by spending $103 million on a movie about talking cats and dogs. Opening on 4,370 screens—the widest release ever for an animated film—The Secret Life Of Pets capitalized on a general lack of new competition, as well as a presumed urge to escape the blinding terror of the real world by laughing at a cute rabbit named Snowball voiced by Kevin Hart. Pets is the sixth film this year to make a nine-figure debut, and it shattered the opening weekend record for an original animated property, because cartoons are safe and pleasant and don’t remind you of all the fucked-up stuff happening outside of cartoons.
Viewers hoping to temporarily hide from current events had other options, of course. There was also that film about the talking fish. Making like a willfully forgettable blue tang, audiences washed their concerns away by dropping another $20.3 million on Finding Dory, which officially passed Toy Story 3 to become Pixar’s biggest domestic hit and Captain America: Civil War to become the year’s biggest domestic hit. Dory surely cost a fortune—unlike Pets, whose $75 million budget is economical, at least by studio animation standards—but Disney can afford to splurge, given the magic year it’s having. After three weeks at the top, Dory did slide into third place, behind both Pets and The Legend Of Tarzan, whose second-week gross of $20.6 million suggests some solid word-of-mouth. Not that the failed franchise launcher has much of a chance of recouping its $180 million budget. The filmmakers should have made Tarzan’s animal friends talk. That’s working out nicely for this year’s biggest box-office hits.
For audiences seeking a (marginally) less childish distraction from the sad shit filling up their news feeds and social-media fields, Mike And Dave Need Wedding Dates evidently did the trick. The only other movie released widely this weekend, Mike And Dave opened to $16.6 million, which is about half its budget and a much better bow than the Zac Efron starring vehicle of last summer experienced. In other entirely frivolous, box-office-related news that won’t make you fall into despair: The Bollywood film Sultan cracked the top 10 with $2.2 million on 283 screens, while Central Intelligence crossed the $100 million mark, where The Conjuring 2 now sits in waiting with $99,373,332—certifiable proof that fake horror remains plenty profitable, even when it bumps up against the real variety provoked by daily headlines.
For more detailed numbers, visit Box Office Mojo.