Illumination Entertainment is back in the summer blockbuster animation game next weekend with the release of TheSecretLifeofPets2. The follow-up to the 2016 smash has Chris Renaud back in the director’s chair. Returning voices include Kevin Hart, Eric Stonestreet, Ellie Kemper, Bobby Moynihan, Lake Bell, Dana Carvey, Hannibal Buress, and Jenny Slate. Patton Oswalt takes over the lead role of Max after Louis C.K. was dropped after recent controversies. Other familiar faces providing new voiceover work to the franchise include Tiffany Haddish, Nick Kroll, and Harrison Ford.
Three summers ago, the first Pets had a scorching start with a $104 million start and $368 million eventual domestic gross. It’s worth noting that competition on its opening weekend wasn’t as strong as DarkPhoenix will premiere against this. This sequel is garnering reviews in line with its predecessor. Part 1 ended up with a 73% Rotten Tomatoes score while this is at 68%.
I look for this to perform similarly to Illumination’s last two efforts. DespicableMe3 earned $72 million for its beginning two summers ago and Dr. Seuss’ TheGrinch made $67 million and perhaps a bit under.
TheSecretLifeofPets2 opening weekend prediction: $65.2 million
2019 is shaping up to be a year where the Best Animated Feature at the Oscars could be dominated by sequels. HowtoTrainYourDragon: TheHiddenWorld already opened to raves and seems destined for a nod just like its two predecessors. Disney has ToyStory4 and Frozen2 on deck.
TheSecretLifeofPets2 is Universal’s shot at Academy recognition. It’s out on June 7, following up on the 2016 animal tale smash hit. Early reviews indicate part deux is an overall improvement in quality. The first Pets achieved a 73% Rotten Tomatoes rating while this currently sits at 91%.
This puts the likely mega blockbuster in contention, but it’ll need to stick around in a competition where the three previously mentioned sequels may well garner more votes. Only time will tell if that’s feasible. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…
Essentially ThreeMenandaDivorcée, Reese Witherspoon’s latest rom com HomeAgain is a bland genre exercise that struggles mightily to be relatable. The star plays Alice, the daughter of a famous deceased director and his starlet muse (Candice Bergen). The maker of this film, Hallie Meyers-Shyer, is the child of divorced writers/filmmakers Charles Shyer and Nancy Meyers. Together and apart, her folks are responsible for such rom com titles as BabyBoom, FatheroftheBride, WhatWomenWant, and Something’sGottaGive. One wonders if Ms. Meyers-Shyer could channel that insight of growing up with her famous parents into a perceptive screenplay. I wonder because it’s not found anywhere here.
Reese’s Alice has recently separated from her music exec hubby (Michael Sheen) and lives at a gorgeous L.A. home with her two daughters. She’s just turned the big 4-0 and genre contrivances soon brings three twenty something lads into her guesthouse. They’re all aspiring filmmakers. Harry (Pico Alexander) is the handsome director. George (Jon Rudnitsky) is the teddy bear screenwriter who forms a bond with Alice’s eldest kid. Teddy (Nat Wolff) is the actor who really has no notable character traits.
Harry and Alice start a May-December romance while her ex is weighing his return home. The boys also must deal with the drama of getting their movie made and keeping their integrity intact. A lazy script would signify that integrity by making them insist on it being black and white. That’s exactly the situation here.
HomeAgain simply doesn’t bring anything new to the table. It is a little more frustrating considering the talent involved could have dug deeper. Witherspoon is adequate in the lead, but we’ve seen her elevate similar material and she can’t here. The story doesn’t even allow for any real chemistry to develop between Alice and Harry. The director’s parents are responsible for some of the more memorable rom coms of the last three decades. At the least, many of them qualify as genuine guilty pleasures. Here’s hoping Hallie finds a similar voice, but this is a dull beginning.
Last year, Universal Pictures animation division had a lovely summer when Minions opened to $115 million with an eventual $336 million gross. The studio is hoping that luck strikes again with The Secret Life of Pets, out next Friday. The 3D animated tale features a voice cast led by Louis C.K., Eric Stonestreet, Kevin Hart, Albert Brooks (pulling double duty this summer with Pixar’s smash Finding Dory), and many others.
Reviews have been kind as it stands at 83% on Rotten Tomatoes. Trailers and TV spots have been solid and it’s likely that plenty of their kids and their parents will tune in. One factor that could prevent it from topping – say – the $75 million opening of Zootopia earlier this year is the competition factor. While Finding Dory will be in its fourth week and slowing down, it should still get some repeat business. Spielberg’s The BFG will be in its second weekend. Still, I think it’ll come darn close.
That said, I expect Pets to fall somewhere in the range of $65-$75 million, which is a pretty common debut for a high-profile animated feature. The 9th through 19th top animated premieres have all started out with those numbers. My prediction puts it right outside the top ten at #11 – right between The Simpsons Movieand Shrek Forever After.
The Secret Life of Pets opening weekend prediction: $73.7 million
For my Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates prediction, click here:
Seeing that a number of Owen Wilson comedies have under performed recently, it’s tough to envision a scenario where his late August action thriller No Escape gains any traction with moviegoers when it opens on Wednesday. The pic casts Wilson as a businessman trapped with his family in Southeast Asia during a military coup. Lake Bell and Pierce Brosnan costar.
The trailers and TV spots do little to inspire much confidence. Frankly, No Escape looks like something that could have as easily gone the direct to VOD route. It’s probably no accident this is arriving the final week of summer, which is primarily a dumping ground for product the studios don’t have much faith in. I believe Escape will struggle to make double digits, even in its expanded five day roll out and it’ll probably be available on the aforementioned VOD quite soon.
No Escape opening weekend prediction: $4.7 million (Friday to Sunday), $6.3 million (Wednesday to Sunday)
For my We Are Your Friends prediction, click here: