‘Planet of the Apes’ Reigns in Cinemas With $73 Million in Sales

Photographer: David James/20th Century Fox via AP Photo

Caesar, performed by Andy Serkis, in a scene from "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes." Close

Caesar, performed by Andy Serkis, in a scene from "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes."

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Photographer: David James/20th Century Fox via AP Photo

Caesar, performed by Andy Serkis, in a scene from "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes."

“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.

New Series

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.

Returning Films

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.

To contact the reporter on this story: Rob Golum in Los Angeles at rgolum@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Anthony Palazzo at apalazzo@bloomberg.net Bruce Rule, Steven Crabill

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