Weekend Box Office: Apes Squash Spider at the Box Office

Fox’s War for the Planet of the Apes had no trouble pushing aside Sony’s Spider-Man: Homecoming to become the nation’s new number one hit. The horror film Wish Upon sputtered in its seventh-place debut while the sleeper hit The Big Sick went wide to encouraging results in fifth place.

Despite the top two films pulling in a little over $100 million between them, the 2017 summer box office limped along as audience resistance to sequels, prequels and reboots continued to keep business on the slow side. This weekend’s top ten was down 21% from last week and was practically dead even with the top ten from one year ago.

War for the Planet of the Apes scored an estimated $56.5 million from its debut on 4,022 screens. The opening for the third -and presumably, final- chapter of the rebooted Apes saga opened three percent above the $54.8 million scored by 2011’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes in its debut but 21% below the $72.6 million scored by 2014’s Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Factoring in inflation and War would have the lowest opening of the new trilogy.

Despite the lower-than-expected debut numbers, War should have the needed box office stamina to become a midsummer hit. Reviews for the Matt Reeves sci-fi drama were the best of the new trilogy. War racked up a 94% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes and an 83/100 from Metacritic. Ticket buyers also applauded the Caesar epic. They gave the movie an “A-“ CinemaScore rating, which also happened to be the same grade given to both Rise and Dawn.

Like its predecessors, War for the Planet of the Apes should prove to be a big hit overseas. The film began its international rollout in less than one third of the marketplace Friday, earning an estimated $46 million overall.

After scoring big last weekend, Sony’s Spider-Man: Homecoming cooled its heels by 61% in its second round on 4,348 screens. Spidey and the Vulture duked it out to the tune of $45.2 million to bring its ten-day total up to $208.3 million. After only ten days, Homecoming has already made more than the entire domestic run of 2014’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Overseas, Homecoming has brought in $261 million.

The second weekend drop for Homecoming is within the norm for a superhero flick, although it was steeper than second round drops for recent superhero hits Wonder Woman (-43%) and Guardians of the Galaxy Volume Two (-56%). The arrival of War for the Planet of the Apes may have also been a contributing factor into the hefty decrease. Even if Homecoming continues to be a fast burn, it should be able to provide the Spider-Man franchise with its first $300 million hit in a decade as well as the first $300 million hit for Sony in five years.

Another sequel suffering the summer box office blahs is Universal’s Despicable Me 3, which landed in third with an estimated $18.9 million from 4,155 theaters. Off 43%, the cartoon has scored $188.1 million after three weeks and is on course to finishing around the $225 million mark. Overseas, the film continues to pick up the domestic slack. The comedy added $71 million to its foreign coffers to bring its total up to $431 million, of which China has contributed $113 million.

Sony’s Baby Driver kept cruising along in fourth place, where it earned $8.8 million from 3,043 screens. Off 33%, the Edgar Wright sleeper hit has scored a great $73 million so far as it heads to at least $100 million by the end of its run. Overseas, the $34 million production has earned $23 million to date.

After a successful limited run over the past three weeks, Lionsgate/Amazon’s romantic comedy The Big Sick went wide this weekend where it earned a decent $7.7 million from 2,597 theaters. The box office for Michael Showalter feature currently stands at $16 million. Kumail Nanjiani and Zoe Kazan headline the acclaimed feature, which was written by Nanjiani and produced by Judd Apatow.

After six weeks, we bid adieu to Wonder Woman as the Patty Jenkins blockbuster moved down to sixth place, earning $6.9 million from 2,744 theaters in its seventh weekend. Off only 33%, Wonder Woman has earned a spectacular $380 million so far. The film should pass Guardians of the Galaxy Volume Two this upcoming week to become the summer’s biggest hit. Given the film’s continued durability, it should pass the $400 million mark by mid-August.

7. Wish Upon (BG) $5.5 million; NEW.
The new PG-13 horror film from Broad Green Pictures starring Joey King and Ryan Phillippe was slammed by critics and ignored by pretty much everyone else. Those who did venture out gave the film a dismal “C” rating on CinemaScore.

8. Cars 3 (Disney) $3.1 million (-41%); $140 million

9. Transformers: The Last Knight (Paramount) $2.78 million (-57%); $125 million

10. The House (Warner) $1.8 million (-62%); $23.1 million

Next weekend sees the arrival of Christopher Nolan’s World War II epic Dunkirk, Luc Besson’s Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets and the comedy Girls Trip. Dunkirk is forecasted to open around $40 million, which would be enough to capture the top spot at the box office but not enough to reverse the box office malaise that should continue to get worse as we get closer to August.

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