'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)
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)
WATCH WHAT HAPPENS LIVE -- Pictured: Kevin Hart -- (Photo by: Charles Sykes/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 12: Actor/comic Kevin Hart walks the red carpet for the screening of his concert film, 'What Now?' at Regal Gallery Place on October 12, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Shannon Finney/FilmMagic)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 12: Actor Kevin Hart and wife, Eniko Parrish attend 'Kevin Hart: What Now?' Philadelphia Screening at UA Riverview 17 on October 12, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Gilbert Carrasquillo/Getty Images)
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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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