'Secret Life of Pets' purrs with strong $5.3 million at Thursday box office

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"The Secret Life of Pets" got off to a great start at the Thursday box office, taking in $5.3 million across 3,009 theaters.

The studio expects the animated feature to open north of its 2010 "Despicable Me" numbers — $56.4 million — which would likely easily beat "Finding Dory" as it plays in its fourth weekend in theaters.

Industry analysts have dramatically higher estimates for the Illumination-Universal animated feature, predicting a domestic debut somewhere between $75 and $80 million. It will expand into 4,329 theaters on Friday.

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WESTWOOD, CA - JUNE 10: Actors Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart arrive at the premiere of Warner Bros. Pictures' 'Central Intelligence' at Westwood Village Theatre on June 10, 2016 in Westwood, California. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)
Actor and comedian Kevin Hart, right, prepares to lead an impromptu 5K run he organized on social media through Piedmont Park Friday, June 12, 2015, in Atlanta. Hart is in town to perform at Philips Arena Friday. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Kevin Hart accepts the Comedy Star of the Year award at the 2015 CinemaCon Big Screen Achievement Awards at Caesars Palace on Thursday, April 23, 2015, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 12: Honoree Kevin Hart, recipient of the Comedic Genius Award, poses in the press room during The 2015 MTV Movie Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on April 12, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 12: Actor Kevin Hart (C) with Heaven Hart (L) and Hendrix Hart (R) during The 2015 MTV Movie Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on April 12, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/MTV1415/WireImage)
Kevin Hart, Director/Writer Etan Cohen and T.I. seen at Warner Bros. Pictures Los Angeles Premiere of "Get Hard" on Wednesday, March 25, 2015, in Hollywood. (Photo by Eric Charbonneau/Invision for Warner Bros./AP Images)
Kevin Hart, left, shares a laugh with Will Ferrell before Ferrell received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Tuesday, March 24, 2015, in Los Angeles. Looking on in the background is actor John C. Reilly. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Host Kevin Hart, left, and Jeffrey Ross appear on stage at the Comedy Central Roast of Justin Bieber at Sony Pictures Studios on Saturday, March 14, 2015, in Culver City, Calif. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Host Kevin Hart appears on stage at the Comedy Central Roast of Justin Bieber at Sony Pictures Studios on Saturday, March 14, 2015, in Culver City, Calif. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Anna Kendrick, left, and Kevin Hart present the award for achievement in an animated short film at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 22, 2015, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by John Shearer/Invision/AP)
Kevin Hart reacts after being named game MVP of the NBA All-Star celebrity basketball game Friday, Feb. 13, 2015, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Kevin Hart and fiancé Eniko Parrish with Jiff are seen at EA SPORTS Madden Bowl 2015 Thursday, Jan., 29, 2015, in Phoenix. (Photo by Donald Traill/Invision for EA SPORTS/AP Images)
Kevin Hart is seen at EA SPORTS Madden Bowl 2015 Thursday, Jan., 29, 2015, in Phoenix. (Photo by Donald Traill/Invision for EA SPORTS/AP Images)
Kevin Hart poses in the press room at the 72nd annual Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Sunday, Jan. 11, 2015, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
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The lead character in "Secret Life of Pets" is a terrier named Max, voiced by Louis C.K., who goes on an odyssey through New York City with his newly-adopted roommate Duke — a massive furry brown dog voiced by Eric Stonestreet — as they try to make their way back home.

Fox's R-rated comedy "Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates" enjoyed a solid start as well with $1.6 million.

More to come...

Read original story 'Secret Life of Pets' Purrs With Strong $5.3 Million at Thursday Box Office At TheWrap

RELATED: Watch the trailer for "Secret Life of Pets" below:
'The Secret Life of Pets' (2016) Official Trailer #3

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