Finding Dory fended off invading aliens, bloodthirsty sharks, and Tarzan himself to claim the No. 1 spot at the weekend box office three consecutive times over the past month, but the mighty Pixar film will finally fall to No. 2 this weekend as it goes head-to-head with the Illuminations Entertainment/Universal animated blockbuster The Secret Life of Pets.
Also debuting in wide release is Fox’s Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, though the adult-oriented farce might have trouble cracking the top 5 as it lands in close proximity to the Warner Bros./New Line action-comedy Central Intelligence, which is still going strong after grossing $97 million domestically thus far.
Here’s how the July 8-10 box office horse race might play out:
1. The Secret Life of Pets – $72 million
The critters at the center of Illuminations Entertainment and Universal’s The Secret Life of Pets might look cute and cuddly, but this weekend they’re showing their might as they tear into the domestic box office on 4,300 screens, heading for a lofty opening in excess of $70 million.
The animated film, featuring a voice cast that includes Jenny Slate, Louis C.K., and Eric Stonestreet, has already grossed $31 million from select international territories, including the U.K., where it has pulled in $23.4 million and counting. In North America, it’s tracking above Universal’s animated film Despicable Me, which premiered to $56.4 million in 2010.
Though families might need a bit more of a breather after Finding Dory debuted under a month ago, the only consistent bets this summer have been animated films aimed squarely at them. The Angry Birds Movie grossed $337.4 million globally, while Dory is well on its way to becoming the No. 1-grossing movie of 2016. The Secret Life of Pets looks to wedge itself somewhere between the two by the end of its run.
The studio is already looking forward to what they hope is a bright future for the potential franchise — NBCUniversal Chief Executive Officer Steve Burke recently confirmed a theme park ride based on The Secret Life of Pets is currently in development, so failure is clearly not an option here.
2. Finding Dory – $21 million
Just because Finding Dory is giving up the box office crown this weekend doesn’t mean it’s completely sputtering out any time soon. The sequel is on-track to become the highest-grossing animated film of all time (unadjusted for inflation) by the end of the month, as it has amassed a whopping $389.9 million in North America after 19 days of release, making it the third top-earner released to domestic cinemas over the last year.
Worldwide, Dory stands at $173.8 million, bringing its global total to $563.8 million. Though Pets is undoubtedly stealing a good chunk of its target audience this weekend, the Pixar smash could still push close to the $1 billion mark worldwide within a month’s time.
3. The Legend of Tarzan – $17.8 million
When compared to industry expectations, which pegged the film to make anywhere between $20 and $30 million in its first three days of release, Warner Bros.’ $180 million Legend of Tarzan returned a healthy number over the Fourth of July frame, pulling in a surprising $46.6 million domestically and a further $19.3 million from foreign markets.
The expensive epic, based on the character created by Edgar Rice Burroughs, is likely to take a bit of a tumble in its second week on its way to an estimated $100 million overall domestic total. Tarzan, however, remains the most prominent action tentpole in wide release, providing appropriate counterprogramming to the family-oriented films likely to take the top two spots this weekend. Its better-than-average A- grade on CinemaScore also proves audiences are ignoring the critics on this one, and good word-of-mouth should help the film finish the week with a decent number.
4. The BFG – $12 million
Among last weekend’s three major wide releases, The BFG was the only underperformer, grossing a disappointing $22.7 million over the four-day stretch.
When Steven Spielberg’s films open low, however, they often sprout legs which carry them to somewhat respectable numbers by the end of their run. His Bridge of Spies opened to $15.4 million last Oct. on its way to $72.3 million overall, and The Adventures of Tintin, which also targeted the same family set The BFG is after, pulled in $77.6 million after a $9.7 million debut in 2011.
Though it opened with the lowest gross of last week’s new movies, it also earned the set’s highest reviews with an A- grade on CinemaScore and a 66 rating on Metacritic. Good word-of-mouth, nostalgia for the Roald Dahl novel it’s based on, and Spielberg’s name should carry The BFG to a soft drop for a second weekend total of approximately $10-12 million.
5. Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates – $11 million
Post-Neighbors, Zac Efron has struggled to prove his box office clout. Both Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising ($55.2 million) and Dirty Grandpa ($35.6 million) failed to catch on, while his We Are Your Friends notched the sixth worst opening weekend for a wide release in history, pulling in a mere $1.8 million from 2,333 screens in 2015.
Judging by the film’s trailer, Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates fits in with Efron’s career trajectory as of late, as the R-rated comedy feels tonally similar to Dirty Grandpa, which debuted to a soft $11.1 million in January, though it never dipped more than 46 percent from frame-to-frame across its first month of release.
There’s no denying Efron’s talent as an actor, but audiences don’t seem to be responding well to his image as a raunchy comedy star. As a male-focused buddy comedy, Mike and Dave couldn’t have come at a worse time, as Central Intelligence, starring Kevin Hart and The Rock, continues to pull in strong numbers as it closes in on $100 million domestically from a much wider demographic (it’s rated PG-13).
With middling reviews (it’s at 51 percent on Rotten Tomatoes right now) and low social media activity (the film has yet to reach 100,000 likes on Facebook), Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates faces an uphill battle on its way to around $9-$12 million this weekend.