‘Planet of the Apes’ saga sails past ‘Spi­der-Man’

The Washington Times Daily - - LIFE - BY JAKE COYLE

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 mo­tion­cap­ture 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, and the sixth (“De­spi­ca­ble Me 3”) was largely re­ceived as a solid enough fam­ily re­lease.

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. Mr. 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.

Mr. 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 [to] ‘Rise,’” he said.

Uni­ver­sal’s fam­ily se­quel “De­spi­ca­ble Me 3” pulled in $18.9 mil­lion in its third week, bring­ing its cu­mu­la­tive to­tal to $188 mil­lion do­mes­ti­cally. Sony’s Edgar Wright ac­tion com­edy “Baby Driver” fol­lowed be­hind with $8.8 mil­lion; its three-week gross is $73.2 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. The Lion­s­gate-Ama­zon Stu­dios film, pro­duced by Judd Apa­tow, made $7.6 mil­lion — a rare suc­cess for a com­edy in a sum­mer full of dis­ap­point­ment.

The hor­ror film “Wish Upon,” from Broad Green Pic­tures, was the week­end’s only other new re­lease. It opened with $5.5 mil­lion and a dis­mal C Cine­maS­core from au­di­ences.

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

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

“War for the Planet of the Apes” took first place from “Spi­der-Man: Home­com­ing” at the box of­fice, open­ing with $56.5 mil­lion in ticket sales.

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