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'Secret Life of Pets' expected to boost sluggish summer box office sales

Secret Life of Pets
Source: Secret Life of Pets

A little animated dog is hoping to take a big bite out of the box office this week.

Illumination Entertainment and Universal Studio's "Secret Life of Pets" is expected to rake in more than $70 million during its domestic opening this weekend, with some analysts expecting that figure to reach $90 million.

The film, which debuted in the United Kingdom, has already collected $30.9 million, according to Box Office Mojo.

That performance should be enough to oust "Finding Dory" from the number one spot for this weekend's sales. However, it is unlikely that "Pets" will surpass "Dory" for the title of the largest domestic opening for an animated feature. "Dory," which garnered more than $136 million during its opening weekend, is already part of an established franchise, having followed the much beloved "Finding Nemo."

"Pets" is an original film and has no predecessor to set the tone. Illumination's "Despicable Me" faced the same obstacles, although the film grossed a respectable $56 million during its opening weekend.

However, the two films that followed "Despicable Me 2" and "Minions" found greater success at the box office, earning $83.5 million and $115 million, respectively, for their opening weekends.

"This is the perfect family movie to be released in the wake of 'Finding Dory,'" Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at comScore, told CNBC. "It's perfect timing, the title is great, the concept is irresistible, it has everything going for it."

According to Dergarabedian, the summer box office has hit a slump following the success of "Captain America: Civil War," with several films falling flat of expectations. "Finding Dory," which grossed almost $400 million domestically since its opening in June, has helped to boost excitement at the cinemas, however ticket sales are still sluggish.

Summer ticket sales through July 3 are down around 5 percent and year-to-date ticket sales are down about 2 percent, according to Dergarabedian.

"Secret Life of Pets" is currently outselling presales of Disney's "Zootopia," according to Fandango. Disney's film went on to gross more than $1 billion at the global box office.

"'The Secret Life of Pets' is super-relatable to pet owners and enjoyable for all family members," Erik Davis, Fandango's managing editor, said in a statement. "'Pets' arrives in a season where moviegoers are hungry for animated adventures with colorful characters, which should give it long legs throughout the summer."

The projected success for "Pets" at the box office this weekend is hardly surprising considering how well animated features have preformed in the last decade. Family films and horror movies are two of the most consistent box office performers, according to Dergarabedian.

Illumination Entertainment has produced four other animated features, including the widely successful "Minions," which garnered more than $1.15 billion during its run at the box office last year.

Disclosure: CNBC parent Comcast owns Fandango and Universal Pictures.