Box Office: 'Secret Life of Pets' Heading for Stellar $97M-Plus Debut

Elsewhere, Zac Efron and Adam Devine's R-rated comedy 'Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates' is beating expectations while 'Finding Dory' becomes the top-grossing film of summer to date in North America.

Another animated film about animals is basking in the warm summer glow.

Illumination Entertainment and Universal's The Secret Life of Pets grossed $38.3 million Friday from 4,370 theaters, putting it on course for a domestic debut of $96 million or more. That would be the best start ever for an original animated property, eclipsing Inside Out ($90.4 million), not accounting for inflation.

Elsewhere, Fox’s raunchy comedy Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, starring Zac Efron and Adam Devine, is on course to hit $17 million in its North American launch after earning a pleasing $6.7 million Friday from 2,982 locations.

But it's animation that's ruling the roost. Pets will have no trouble toppling Pixar and Disney's Finding Dory from the No. 1 spot on the chart, but Dory remains a vibrant player in its fourth weekend and is tipped to place No. 2 with roughly $20 million. On Friday, Finding Dory passed Captain America: Civil War ($406 million) to become the summer's top-grossing film in North America.

The Secret Life of Pets reveals what pets do after their owners leave the house. The voice cast includes Louis C.K., Eric Stonestreet and Kevin Hart (it's the first time the three have worked on an animated movie), Jenny Slate, Ellie Kemper, Lake Bell, Dana Carvey, Hannibal Buress, Bobby Moynihan, Steve Coogan and Albert Brooks. Chris Renaud (Despicable Me, Despicable Me 2) directed.

Earlier this year, Disney Animation Studios' Zootopia opened to $75 million on its way to earning a dazzling $1.02 billion. Finding Dory and Pets continue the animal-themed craze.

Pets earned an A- CinemaScore, while Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates received a B.

Directed by Jake Szymanski, Mike and Dave follows two hedonistic brothers who are tasked with finding respectable dates for their sister's wedding. They put an ad on Craigslist and end up taking two best friends (Anna Kendrick and Aubrey Plaza) who are actually bigger troublemakers than they are. Chernin Entertainment produced the film.

Mike and Dave placed No. 2 on Friday after Pets, but is expected to come in at No. 4 for the weekend behind Pets, Finding Dory and The Legend of Tarzan.

Legend of Tarzan is projected to earn $19 million-$20 million in its second weekend. There's a chance it could take the No. 2 spot from Dory but most are betting on the latter.

Rounding out the top five is The Purge: Election Year, which is on course to earn $11 million in its sophomore outing.

Elsewhere, Steven Spielberg's The BFG is falling steeply in its second weekend, at least for a family title. The Disney movie looks to drop 58 percent to $7.8 million for a dismal domestic total of $39 million through Sunday.

July 9, 7:00 a.m. Updated with Friday numbers.

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