LOS ANGELES – "The Secret Life of Pets" brought in a whopping $145 million worldwide in its first weekend at the box office, and it only cost a reported $75 million to make. With such a big opening weekend, “Pets” is on track to be a summer hit with serious profits.
The buzzed about “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” sequel, on the other hand, cost $135 million to produce and made only $220 million worldwide. “Independence Day Resurgence” had a similar experience with a budget of $165 million that resulted in only $267 million at the box office.
Following this weekend, industry publication Deadline raved about “Pets,” stating it has “revived the season” after “a string of big-budget disasters.”
Similarly, last year’s “Minions” was a huge hit for the same studio that brought us “Pets,” Illumination. “Minions” was made with a budget of just $74 million, but by the end of its box office run it earned a staggering $1.1 billion, begging the question are animated films the new summer blockbusters?
Film critic Marshall Fine told FOX411 if the animation in a film is top notch, it has a shot at becoming a big summer hit.
“Animation doesn't guarantee a blockbuster, but quality animation does,” he said.
Fine said sometimes animated films to miss the mark, like with this summer’s “The BFG,” but overall family friendly flicks are in demand.
“Since studios no longer make many family films -- because too many of them turn out as flat as 'The BFG' -- a good animated film is the one thing that parents, particularly the big wave of millennial parents of small kids, can count on.”
The family friendly “Finding Nemo” sequel “Finding Dory” has been soaring at the box office, having reeled in $423 million domestically, making it the highest grossing domestic film of the summer so far.
“Pixar is a proven brand and ‘Secret Life of Pets’ had one of the summer's most irresistible commercials,” Fine explained.
“The Secret Life of Pets” trailer teased an answer to the question, “Ever wonder what the pets you love do when you leave?” It includes an all-star cast of animals voiced by Kevin Hart, Louis C.K., Eric Stonestreet and Dana Carvey.
Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at comScore, speculated the hit animated films of summer are box office winners because of their PG ratings.
“Perhaps though the secret sauce is the PG rating that enables such films to have mass appeal and offer appropriate content for everyone one from the smaller kids of age 5 and 6 to teenagers, college-age adults, people of middle age and even seniors,” he said. “What was formerly an uncool rating has now become the hottest rating this year and has powered some of the most successful movies in 2016.”
And traditional films may want to take note, since Dergarabedian suggested the success of animated films may extend past the summer box office.
“Animated animals out of and in the water have been incredibly popular in 2016 and the success of ‘Zootopia,’ ‘Kung Fu Panda,’ ‘Angry Birds,’ ‘Finding Dory’ and now ‘Pets’ prove that if it walks on four legs, swims or flies through the air, people will flock to see it in the movie theater.”
You can follow Blanche Johnson on Twitter @blancheFOXLA.