Universal Pictures’ ‘The Secret Life of Pets’ to Get August China Release?

  • Animated feature would reach screens in China about a month after its US premiere
  • Date is still tentative and not confirmed by local media
  • China has been a particularly strong market for foreign animated films of late

Illumination Entertainment and Universal Pictures’ The Secret Life of Pets (爱宠大机密) is expected to be released to China in August 2, a little under a month after its North American release, local media reported.

Hints that the animated comedy would get a Chinese release came as early as December 2015 when the state-run Xinhua News Agency reported the film had released a Chinese version of its trailer.

The August 2 date is still tentative though, as a report on m1905, the website of the state broadcaster’s movie channel CCTV 6, referred to the release date only as “possible.”

The family-friendly film takes a light-hearted look at what people’s beloved pets get up to when they’re left to their own devices.

While Louis C.K., Eric Stonestreet, and Kevin Hart are among many celebrities who provide the English voices of the film’s pets, it’s unknown if local Chinese actors will provide dubbing for the Chinese market.

The animated comedy marks the fifth fully-animated feature-film collaboration between Illumination Entertainment and Universal Pictures, most famous for its Despicable Me (神偷奶爸) franchise.

That franchise got off to a shaky start in China with the first outing failing to get a release, and the second being delayed in the market for seven months before finally opening in October 2014.

Minions (小黄人大眼萌), a spin-off from the successful Despicable Me series, opened in China on September 13, 2015, and went on to earn RMB 436 million (US$66.4 million).

China has been a particularly strong market for foreign animated films of late. Most recently, Sony’s The Angry Birds Movie (愤怒的小鸟) surpassed Minions and Ice Age to become the seventh-biggest animated feature in China after amassing $72.67 million after 17 days.

At RMB 1.53 billion ($236 million) Disney’s Zootopia leads the pack, followed by Kung Fu Panda 3 on RMB 1 billion ($153.5 million), The Monkey King: Hero is Back on RMB 956 million ($159.3 million), Kung Fu Panda 2 on RMB 617 million ($94.9 million), Doraemon: Stand by Me on RMB 528 ($85.2 million), and Big Hero 6 on RMB 525 million ($84.9 million).

In February, Universal struck a multi-year deal to finance films with China’s Perfect World Pictures, but The Secret Life of Pets, alongside other titles from Illumination Entertainment were reportedly not included.

The possible release could be good news for Universal, which is planning to open an $8 billion theme park in Beijing by 2020. Competitor Disney will have a head-start next week when it officially opens its $5.5 billion Shanghai park.

As many as 60 theme parks are under construction or being planned in China, with other notable players including Six Flags Entertainment and Dalian Wanda Group, one of China’s biggest conglomerates.