‘Apes’ tops ‘Spi­der-Man’ in open­ing weekend

Albuquerque Journal - - METRO & NM - BY JAKE COYLE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

NEW YORK — Mon­key busi­ness still pays. “War for the Planet of the Apes” took down “Spi­derMan: Home­com­ing” at the North Amer­i­can box of­fice, open­ing with an es­ti­mated $56.5 mil­lion in ticket sales.

Though some ini­tially ex­pected a closer race, “Spi­der-Man” dropped to se­cond with $45.2 mil­lion af­ter its $117 mil­lion de­but last weekend. But di­rec­tor Matt Reeves’ “War for the Planet of the Apes” pulled away thanks to strong re­views for the third in­stall­ment of the re­booted “Apes” fran­chise. Led by Andy Serkis’ cel­e­brated mo­tion-cap­ture per­for­mance as the ape leader Cae­sar, “War for the Planet of the Apes” won a 94 per­cent fresh rat­ing on Rot­ten To­ma­toes.

Fox’s “Apes” led some­thing of a sum­mer anom­aly: There is an un­usual con­flu­ence of ac­claimed films in re­lease. Five of the top six at the box of­fice (“Apes,” ”Home­com­ing,” ”Baby Driver,” ”The Big Sick” and “Won­der Woman”) boast Rot­ten To­ma­toes rank­ings of 92 or bet­ter.

Sum­mer, rarely a crit­ics’ par­adise, is sud­denly flush with good movies.

“What I think sets the ‘Planet of the Apes,’ these three films, apart from other fran­chise films, is that it’s not gra­tu­itous se­quel-itis,” said Chris Aron­son, Fox’s dis­tri­bu­tion chief. “This is sto­ry­telling, and it’s episodic sto­ry­telling. It’s not ‘Well, let’s put the band back to­gether.’ “

But there were also hints of fran­chise fa­tigue for the “Planet of the Apes” se­ries. Reeves’ lat­est edi­tion came in closer to 2012’s “Rise of the Planet of the Planet of the Apes,” and well be­low the $72.6 mil­lion de­but of 2014’s “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.” The film, which cost about $150 mil­lion to pro­duce, added $46 mil­lion from over­seas. (“Spi­der-Man: Home­com­ing” was still king over­seas, where it added $72.3 mil­lion to bring its global haul to nearly $500 mil­lion.)

Aron­son be­lieves the good word-of-mouth will carry “War for the Planet of the Apes.” “At the end of the day, we’re go­ing to have a ter­rific mul­ti­ple and it will be a lot closer to ‘Dawn’ than it will be ‘Rise,’” he said.

Uni­ver­sal’s fam­ily se­quel “De­spi­ca­ble Me 3” pulled in $18.9 mil­lion in its third week. Sony’s Edgar Wright ac­tion comedy “Baby Driver” fol­lowed be­hind with $8.8 mil­lion.

The weekend’s other most no­table new en­trant was Ku­mail Nan­jiani’s ac­claimed ro­man­tic comedy “The Big Sick,” which ex­panded to about 2,600 the­aters af­ter three weeks of lim­ited re­lease.

Next weekend may well con­tinue the streak of well-re­viewed sum­mer re­leases, as Christo­pher Nolan’s World War II thriller “Dunkirk” lands in the­aters.

TWENTIETH CEN­TURY FOX

Woody Har­rel­son, cen­ter, as the Colonel in a scene from “War for the Planet of the Apes,” which topped the box of­fice with $56.5M in its open­ing weekend.

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