5. The Secret Life of Pets 2 (2019)
Worldwide Box Office: $430million
Cast: Kevin Hart, Patton Oswalt, Jenny Slate, Eric Stonestreet, Tiffany Haddish, Harrison Ford, Dana Carvey, Ellie Kemper, Bobby Moynihan, Hannibal Buress, Nick Kroll
Fans of the original The Secret Life of Pets no doubt enjoyed the second instalment of pet-shenanigans on offer in The Secret Life of Pets 2, the returning voices of Kevin Hart, Tiffany Haddish and Patton Oswalt complimented by the arrival of Hollywood icon (and Indiana Jones himself) Harrison Ford. But general audiences didn’t seem so keen. Earning $430million at the worldwide box office, less than half of what the original film made, it seems that all it took was two years for the hype of singing and dancing dogs, cats, hamsters and guinea pigs to well and truly die down.
While $430million is by no means a bad return on an $80million investment, the halving of its overall take in just two years will be cause for concern for Illumination and studio Universal, and may put a third Secret Life of Pets movie out of reach.
While the film itself didn’t offer anything fresh or new, what it did offer was good enough to be a worthy follow up to the first film; a take on the characters that may have been a little slower in pace, but was equally as funny (and worth doing impressions of) for children.
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4. Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax (2012)
Worldwide Box Office: $349million
Starring: Zac Efron, Danny DeVito, Taylor Swift, Ed Helms, Betty White, Rob Riggle, Jenny Slate
Following the atrocities of the live-action Dr. Seuss adaptation The Cat in the Hat (2003), the Dr. Seuss estate vowed to never let another live-action movie version of the author’s famous novels be released again. As such, the rights to the stories were farmed out to various animation studios with Illumination nabbing the rights to “The Lorax”, which they released in 2012 to divisive opinion.
The Lorax featured the sort of message that Dr. Seuss’ stories have become iconic for, with the allegory for this film being the destruction of habitats and the effects of global warming, and it certainly didn’t fail on the levels of many other Seuss adaptations. Even so, the fact remained that this was an adaptation of Dr. Seuss’ magnum opus, his best and “most Seuss” release, and anything short of spectacular was always going to feel a little underwhelming. Unfortunately, The Lorax wasn’t anything more than good, with its crisp and creative animation being praiseworthy but its handling of the material rubbing some people the wrong way. With more sub-text than your average Illumination film however, and with its fair share of memorable and/or noteworthy moments, Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax is still leaps and bounds beyond those that have come before it in this list.
3. The Secret Life of Pets (2016)
Worldwide Box Office: $875million
Starring: Kevin Hart, Jenny Slate, Louis C.K., Eric Stonestreet, Lake Bell, Ellie Kemper, Bobby Moynihan, Hannibal Buress, Chris Renaud, Steve Coogan
Much like Sing was the amalgamation of what a movie by committee would look and sound like, The Secret Life of Pets was very much of the same ilk with its mix of cute animals headlining the film, though Pets actually turned out to be much better.
The talents of Kevin Hart, Jenny Slate and company at the head of the voice cast were most praiseworthy for bringing life, energy and at times heartfelt emotion to the piece, and it’s arguable that The Secret Life of Pets was perhaps the most pure and emotional of Illumination’s releases outside of their Despicable Me franchise.
This was one of those movies you expected cute animals and easy jokes from, but what resulted was actually much more than that, and easily the 3rd best film in Illumination’s filmography.