“Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” a big summer sequel from 21st Century Fox Inc. (FOXA), opened as the No. 1 film in domestic theaters over the weekend, generating ticket sales of $73 million.
The film, produced by former Fox executive Peter Chernin, was the only new picture that opened in wide release in U.S. and Canadian multiplexes. “Transformers: Age of Extinction” generated $16.5 million in its third weekend to place second, researcher Rentrak Corp. said yesterday in a statement.
Summer cinema sales in the U.S. are falling further behind last year’s record pace, in large part because studios spread out the timing for their biggest films to avoid stealing sales from each other and to work around soccer’s World Cup. This year’s biggest domestic picture, Walt Disney Co.’s “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” opened on April 4, weeks before the usual start of the movie-going season.
“It came at the right time and right place,” said Jeff Bock, an analyst at Exhibitor Relations Co. “It appeals to a wide swath of the movie-going audience.”
“Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” with Andy Serkis returning in the lead role playing the ape Caesar, was projected to generate $64 million to $67 million in weekend sales, the estimates, respectively, of researchers Box Office Guru and BoxOffice.com.
“‘Planet of the Apes’ performed up to already high industry expectations,” Bock said.
The film, which also features Gary Oldman and Keri Russell, is the second in a new series about the rise of intelligent apes on Earth. The story arc predates the iconic 1968 “Planet of the Apes” that starred Charlton Heston as an astronaut who crash lands on a planet run by primates and then learns he’s really on Earth.
In this release, a growing nation of evolved apes led by Caesar is threatened by the human survivors of a deadly virus, according to a studio synopsis. The two sides reach the brink of a war that will decide who becomes the dominant species.
“A built-in audience is set to come out again for ‘Dawn,’” Gitesh Pandya, editor of Box Office Guru, wrote on his website before the weekend tally was in. “No studio dared to open opposite the new ‘Apes’ and holdovers will not take away too much business either.”
“Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” may generate $210 million to $220 million in box-office sales in its full run in domestic cinemas, according to BoxOffice.com.
The film opens over two to three weeks in many international markets. Studios split ticket revenue with theater owners and also count on foreign sales to recoup their production and advertising costs. Fox and its partners, including Chernin Entertainment, spent an estimated $170 million making the picture, according to Imdb.com.
The website Rottentomatoes.com, which distills critics’ reviews into a single number, gave the picture a 91 percent positive rating.
Among returning films, weekend sales for “Transformers” brought its domestic revenue to $209 million after three weekends in release.
The film, which stars Mark Wahlberg for the first time in the series, picks up the story of battling robots that convert into cars and trucks. It features Chinese actors as Paramount seeks to increase the international appeal of the series.
“Tammy,” an R-rated comedy from Time Warner Inc. (TWX)’s film division, collected $12.9 million over the weekend to place third. It has brought in $57.3 million since its release on July 2, according to Rentrak.
The film features Melissa McCarthy, star of the 2013 comedy “Identity Thief,” as Tammy, who returns home after being fired from a fast-food restaurant to find her husband having an affair with the neighbor. She takes flight and embarks on a road trip with her alcoholic and diabetic grandmother, played by Susan Sarandon.
Weekend sales for the top 10 films fell 27 percent to $134.8 million from a year earlier, Rentrak said. The following table has U.S. movie box-office figures provided by studios to Rentrak. The amounts are based on gross ticket sales for July 11-July 12 with estimates for yesterday.
Rev. Pct. Avg./ Total Movie (mln) Chg. Theaters Theater (mln) Wks ================================================================ 1 Dawn of Planet $73 -- 3,967 $18,402 $73 1 2 Transformers 16.5 -55 3,913 4,217 209 3 3 Tammy 12.9 -40 3,465 3,726 57.3 2 4 22 Jump Street 6.7 -32 2,811 2,383 171.9 5 5 Train Your Dragon 5.9 -35 2,885 2,033 152 5 6 Earth to Echo 5.5 -34 3,230 1,703 24.6 2 7 Deliver us From 4.7 -52 3,049 1,541 25 2 8 Maleficent 4.2 -32 2,077 2,007 222 7 9 Begin Again 2.9 +134 939 3,126 5.3 3 10 Jersey Boys 2.5 -51 1,968 1,275 41.7 4 Top 10 Films Grosses This Week Year Ago Pct. (mln) (mln) Chg. =================================== $134.7 $183.7 -26.7 Year-to-date Revenue 2014 2013 YTD YTD Pct. (mln) (mln) Chg. =================================== $5,659 $5,965 -5.1
Source: Rentrak Corp.
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