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Box office preview: Animated ‘DC League of Super-Pets’ takes on B.J. Novak dark comedy ‘Vengeance’

After a relatively muted showing for Jordan Peele’s alien invasion thriller “Nope,” the month of July comes to a close with two very different movies: a major studio’s animated family film with superhero connections and a more moderate dark comedy from a popular sitcom star. Read on for Gold Derby’s box office preview.

Warner Bros. releases the animated “DC League of Super-Pets” pretty wide this weekend with a voice cast that re-teams Dwayne Johnson as Krypto, Superman’s dog, with Kevin Hart as Ace the Bathound. The rest of the voice cast is a rogue’s gallery of comedic talent, including Vanessa Bayer and Kate McKinnon (“Saturday Night Live”), Natasha Lyonne (“Russian Doll”), Ben Schwartz (“Sonic the Hedgehog”), Thomas Middleditch (“Silicon Valley”) and Marc Maron (“The Bad Guys”). That cast is rounded out by John Krasinski voicing Superman, Keanu Reeves as Batman, Daveed Diggs as Cyborg, and many more.

SEE Box office: ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ skyrockets to $600 million, only 12th movie ever to do so

Johnson and Hart began their partnership with the New Line action-comedy hit “Central Intelligence” in 2016. After that, they went on to make two hugely successful “Jumanji” movies, which made over $700 million domestically and $1.8 billion worldwide between them. Clearly, the duo have the type of comedic chemistry more common in the days of Laurel & Hardy and Abbott & Costello (look ‘em up, kids!), so it will be interesting to see how they bring that to the world of animation.

Warner Bros. has tried more than a few times to bring its various DC-related cartoon series to the big screen in the past, most notably “Teen Titans Go! To the Movies,” which opened with just $10.4 million in the same weekend four years ago. That ended up grossing $29.5 million, which isn’t great but is par for Warners’ attempt to bring its popular TV series to the big screen. Even popular Cartoon Network series like “The Powerpuff Girls” just didn’t connect with moviegoers, tapping out with just $11.4 million total in North America. “Super-Pets” is a fully CG movie that reinvents popular DC characters but puts more focus on the fully original characters like McKinnon’s villainous guinea pig, Lulu.

SEE Grab the popcorn and sound off in our movie forums

The big difference here is that this looks very cute and quite funny, kind of like “The Secret Life of Pets” but with DC superheroes and their pets. Considering how well “Secret Life of Pets” did in theaters ($885.3 million global gross), Warner Bros. may have come up with the perfect combination for a late summer hit. (It’s also interesting to note that this is being released the same weekend in which 20th Century Fox opened “The Simpsons Movie” in 2007 to an enormous $74 million, although that seems like a movie that would appeal to a much wider-range of audiences in terms of ages.)

Reviews have slowly been tricking in and are mostly positive — it’s currently at 71% on Rotten Tomatoes — but that isn’t always the case with animated movies that aren’t from Pixar – even “Lightyear” wasn’t safe from harsher critics this summer – but “Super-Pets” seems pretty review-proof, regardless.

Between the movie’s connections to the DC Universe and the big name voice cast, “Super-Pets” could open with $40 million or even more as the last family movie for quite some time, and it should be an easy winner this weekend to supplant “Nope” as the #1 movie.

SEE Box office: All time domestic top-grossing movies

Following its premiere at the Tribeca Festival in July, “The Office” star B.J. Novak’s directorial debut “Vengeance” will be released by Focus Features into roughly 900 theaters this weekend. In the movie, Novak plays Ben, a New York journalist who is called to the remote outskirts of Texas when a random hook-up has died of an overdose, and her brother (Boyd Holbrook) believes she was murdered. Ben thinks it’s the perfect story for a true-crime podcast, as he begins an investigation. Oh, and it’s a pretty edgy comedy. Issa Rae from “Insecure” plays Ben’s editor, and Ashton Kutcher plays a local music producer who worked with the deceased woman.

Reviews have generally been favorable, with the movie holding an impressive 84% at Rotten Tomatoes at the time of this writing. More importantly, Focus has quite wisely bought ads on Hulu that runs during the hugely popular “Only Murders in the Building,” which also involves a murder podcast.

Even so, with such a moderate release, I can’t imagine “Vengeance” will make more than $3 million this weekend, although being a Blumhouse production, that may be all it needs to break even. Either way, it will likely open in the bottom half of the top 10.

Also, if you haven’t had a chance to see the Daniels’ “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” starring the incandescent Michelle Yeoh, you’ll get another chance this weekend as A24 plans to re-release it with eight minutes of deleted scenes, outtakes, bloopers, etc.

Other movies to look out for in limited release including the thriller “Resurrection,” starring Rebecca Hall and Tim Roth, and the drama “A Love Story,” starring Dale Dickey and Wes Studi

Incidentally, in Sunday’s weekend wrap-up, I wrote that Tom Cruise’s “Top Gun: Maverick” might be bumped out of the top five after sitting there for nine weeks. After crunching some numbers, I can see a very real scenario where it remains at #5 once again. We’re talking about a true box office phenomenon unlike anything we’ve seen in decades!

Check back on Sunday to see how the movies above and all the returning movies fared at the box office.

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