Americans once again proved their fascination with domestic animals this weekend by giving Universal's "The Secret Life of Pets" a weekend over $100 million, easily landing it in the No. 1 spot. "Finding Dory," the three-week box office champ, fell to third, its core demographic of family audiences obviously distracted by the new animated film in the marketplace. Meanwhile, "Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates" was a surprisingly strong box office presence, once again showing the appeal of R-rated wedding comedies. Altogether, the top twelve grossed a stellar $206 million, up 13% from last weekend and about even with the same frame a year ago.
Ever since Universal started the marketing campaign for "Pets" over a year ago, it was clear that the studio had a box office winner on its hands. The trailer for the film played before "Minions," hooking younger audiences, and has played before half the movies in Hollywood since. Awareness for the film was therefore high, with corporate partners such as McDonald's and PetSmart also helping.
Of course, the awareness for the movie would have mattered significantly less if Universal didn't have an appealing product on its hands. But that it did. The concept of the movie--what do our pets do while we're away?--is universally relatable. The pet industry grows every year, and just as people are willing to spend big bucks on their companion animals, they are obviously also eager to bring the family to a film that features pets as the main characters.