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

“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, generating ticket sales of $72.6 million.

The film, produced by former Fox executive Peter Chernin, was the only new picture opening in wide release in U.S. and Canadian multiplexes. “Transformers: Age of Extinction” generated $16.3 million in its third weekend to place second, researcher Rentrak Corp. (RENT) said today in an e-mailed statement.

“Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” provided a fresh boost to Fox, which leads domestic box-office sales and is up 68 percent from a year earlier. The strong opening was a bright spot in an otherwise lackluster summer season, with industry sales falling further behind last year’s record pace. The studio has had successes this summer with the teen drama “The Fault in Our Stars” and “X-Men: Days of Future Past.”

“Of all the studios, Fox had the best slate of the summer, ” said Phil Contrino, chief analyst at BoxOffice.com. The latest “Apes” film “was a breath of fresh air, but it was not big enough to turn things around alone.”

“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.

New Series

The film, also featuring Gary Oldman and Keri Russell, is the second in a new series about the rise of intelligent apes on Earth. The story 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.

International Sales

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.

In an unusual feat, “Boyhood,” another new release, registered 100 percent positive reviews on the website. Opening in five locations, the film directed by Richard Linklater follows the same cast over 12 years and a young boy from the age of 6 to 18. Ellar Coltrane plays Mason in the IFC Productions’ film, which co-stars Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette.

Linklater is known for films including “Slacker,” “School of Rock,” and the trio of “Before Sunrise,” “Before Sunset” and “Before Midnight,” following a couple played by Hawke and Julie Delpy, and released from 1995 to 2013.

Returning Films

Among returning films, weekend sales for “Transformers” brought its domestic revenue to $208.8 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 $12.6 million over the weekend to place third. It has brought in $57 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 $133.8 million from a year earlier, Rentrak said. Sales for the year to date have fallen 5.1 percent to $5.66 billion.

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 11-13.

                   Rev.    Pct.             Avg./    Total
Movie             (mln)    Chg. Theaters  Theater    (mln) Wks
================================================================
 1 Planet Of Apes  $72.6     --    3,967  $18,304    $72.6    1
 2 Transformers     16.3    -56    3,913    4,166    208.8    3
 3 Tammy            12.6    -42    3,465    3,623     57.0    2
 4 22 Jump Street    6.5    -34    2,811    2,313    171.8    5
 5 Train Your Dragon 6.1    -32    2,885    2,105    152.3    5
 6 Earth To Echo     5.5    -34    3,230    1,699     24.6    2
 7 Deliver Us        4.8    -51    3,049    1,558     25.1    2
 8 Maleficent        4.2    -32    2,077    2,013    222.0    7
 9 Begin Again       2.8    124      939    3,004      5.2    3
10 Jersey Boys       2.5    -51    1,968    1,279     41.7    4

Top 10 Films Grosses

   This Week     Year Ago      Pct.
     (mln)         (mln)       Chg.
===================================
    $133.8        $183.8       -27


Year-to-date Revenue

     2014          2013
      YTD           YTD        Pct.
     (mln)         (mln)       Chg.
===================================
    $5,662        $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 Rob Golum, Ben Livesey

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