Kubo and the Two Strings, the fourth animated feature produced by Laika and first directed by studio president and CEO Travis Knight, launched over the weekend in fifth place with an estimated $12.6 million from 3,260 theaters.
Despite garnering the best reviews of any Laika film to date (96% positive among Rotten Tomatoes-tracked critics), the opening for the stop motion/vfx hybrid was the weakest ever for the Laika brand. The previous low had been Paranorman, which debuted in 2012 with $14.1 million.
Of greater concern, each Laika/Focus Features release has grossed less in the U.S. than the previous film—Coraline ($75.3m in 2009), Paranorman ($56m in 2012), The Boxtrolls ($50.8m in 2014). While Kubo’s opening weekend suggests the studio might continue this downward trend, the film earned an “A” Cinemascore among audiences, the only Laika film that has ever done so. Combined with the strong reviews, there’s still a chance that the film could find its audience and push past the $50m mark at the domestic box office.
Two other animated films also appeared in the U.S. top ten. Sony’s Sausage Party held steady in second place, fighting off not only Kubo but two other new wide releases: War Dogs and Ben-Hur. The R-rated Sausage Party declined 55.3% for a $15.3m total. After two weekends, the film’s total stands at $65.3m, and $100 million U.S. box office remains a strong possibility.
Illumination/Universal’s The Secret Life of Pets took ninth place in its 7th weekend with $5.8m. The film’s domestic total—$346.7m—has now exceeded Zootopia to become the second-highest domestic animated pic of 2016, trailing only Finding Dory.
Pets collected an additional $45m globally last weekend, boosting its international cume to $327.8m. Worldwide, the film has earned $674.5m, which makes it the highest-grossing non-Disney/Pixar original animated film of all-time. The previous record holder was Dreamworks Animation’s Kung Fu Panda with $631.7m worldwide.