There’s nothing secret about how The Secret Life of Pets demolished the box office this weekend. Tarzan swung into second, and Dory swam in third, leaving the other newcomer Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates needing more than just wedding dates. Let’s take a closer look in this week’s Making Dollars and Sense!
Illumination Entertainment’s The Secret Life of Pets was far and away the highest grossing film this weekend with a $103 million haul, blowing away its $75 million budget in its first weekend, and trouncing every other film by a landslide. The closest competitor was The Legend of Tarzan with a mere $20 million weekend. Granted, it was the ape-man’s second week, but that’s an $83 million gap. In fact, it would take the entire box office earnings of the second through 13th film on this week’s list combined to match the earnings of The Secret Life of Pets. That means that you could add together, by name, the earnings of The Legend of Tarzan, Finding Dory, Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, The Purge: Election Year, Central Intelligence, Independence Day: Resurgence, The BFG, The Shallows, Sultan, The Conjuring 2, Now You See Me 2, and Free State of Jones together and it would be roughly the same amount (maybe a little less) than The Secret Life of Pets earned this weekend. WOW.
Now, I haven’t seen The Secret Life of Pets, but it seems to me like a cute little journey with not a lot of extra heft. That’s not to say it isn’t good; I actually really would like to see it. The voice cast is solid, the animation is colorful and fun, and the scene in the trailer with the poodle listening to metal after his stuffy master leaves always gets a laugh out of me. But I think the keys to its success really come from the fact that it’s an original story, and enough time has passed since Finding Dory was released, so families are looking for something new and fun, especially after the disappointment that was The BFG. It’s also the last new family film until Ice Age: Collision Course on the 22nd of this month (yes, there’s another one coming), and then the Pete’s Dragon remake on August 12 and Kubo and the Two Strings on August 19 to close out the summer’s family flicks. All of that said, The Secret Life of Pets didn’t top any records, but it is the sixth biggest July opening of all time, underneath Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Two, The Dark Knight Rises, The Dark Night, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, and Minions, and that’s nothing to shake your tail at.
The other fresh meat this weekend was Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, a bro-tastic raunch-fest starring Zac Efron, Adam Devine, Anna Kendrick, and Aubrey Plaza. Normally a cast like that would be incredibly alluring to me. Zac Efron stole the show in both Neighbors films, Anna Kendrick is a comedy darling from her breakout role in the Pitch Perfect films and riotous Twitter account, and Aubrey Plaza has her own slew of comedy gold with the highlight of course being her role as April in Parks and Recreation. I’ve never been a huge fan of Adam Devine, but he’s made a name for himself through Workaholics and Pitch Perfect as well. The premise is simple: Efron and Devine play a pair of man-child brothers (a la Will Ferrel and John C. Reilly in Step Brothers it seems) trying to tame a female duo secretly twice as obnoxiously offensive as them, and take them to a wedding. And that’s it.
Which, judging by movies with equally simple premises (lookin’ at you, Dirty Grandpa…which also starred Zac Efron and Aubrey Plaza), is just a vehicle for penis jokes and lots of yelling. But remember: yelling does not equal funny, much like yelling does not equal good acting or an Oscar nomination. However, even though Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates failed to impress in its opening weekend, there’s a particular scene involving Silicon Valley’s Kumail Nanjiani that’s getting some buzz due to its treatment of male nudity and how it makes a positive statement about sexism in the industry, and that has me intrigued. Probably not intrigued enough to go see it, but I won’t say never! We’ll see if that little spark of controversy helps it at all next weekend.
Speaking of next weekend, let’s take a look at what’s coming up! Wednesday has The Infiltrator opening early, which is a little action thriller starring Bryan Cranston, so Breaking Bad fans, keep an eye out! Woody Allen’s new film Café Society opens in a mere five theaters this weekend as well, so we likely won’t be seeing that one any wider for a few weeks, but as far as Allen’s recent work goes, this looks like one of the better of the bunch. But the big opening this weekend is going to be Paul Feig’s Ghostbusters reboot. Early reviews have been mixed to positive, which is encouraging after the controversial road it’s had since before it started filming (it seems that stupid boys don’t like it when women are able to be funny and star in a movie they watched maybe twice as a kid…I guess means their childhoods are ruined? I dunno, I don’t really listen to them) but only time will tell how open audiences are to another blockbuster remake, and in the hands of Paul Feig, director of Bridesmaids, The Heat, and Spy, I’d guess the new Ghostbusters film will be anything but mediocre.
In the meantime, take your brother, sister, cousin, or self to see The Secret Life of Pets, or if you’re in the mood for something a bit more adult (and a lot weirder), try to catch Swiss Army Man, which is easily one of the best films I’ve seen this year and one of the most original I’ve ever seen. And as always, there’s still plenty of franchise stuff in the mix! So go see a movie, and we’ll see you next time!