LOS ANGELES -- It took a set of evolved primates to end the dominance of colossal transforming robots at the box office. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes became king of the multiplex after taking in about $73 million over the weekend in U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to studio estimates.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, the 3-D sequel to the 2011 blockbuster Rise of the Planet of the Apes, took in an additional $31.1 from 26 international markets including Australia and South Korea, according to estimates.
20th Century Fox's latest entry in the Planet of the Apes franchise, which cost $170 million to make, benefited from stellar reviews, positive word of mouth and the strong performance of its 2011 predecessor. The Dawn launch was 33 percent higher than Rise, which opened to $54.8 million and didn't benefit from pricier 3-D tickets. Dawn also far surpassed studio expectations, which projected an opening of $55 million to $60 million.
The sequel stars Andy Serkis, who returns as head simian Caesar, along with a new cast of humans including Jason Clarke, Gary Oldman and Keri Russell.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes' performance helped Fox to become the first studio to cross the billion-dollar mark in box-office sales for the United States and Canada this year. Fox's 2014 tally stands at $1.015 billion.
With no other major competition entering the marketplace, Dawn was able to push another blockbuster tent pole, Transformers: Age of Extinction, into second place.
The fourth Transformers movie from Michael Bay had dominated the U.S. box office for the previous two weeks. In its third week the film took in $16.3 million, sending the Paramount Pictures' tent pole over the $200 million mark.
The Melissa McCarthy comedy Tammy came in third with $12.6 million. Though dreadful reviews have dampened the response to McCarthy's latest, the relatively low-budget release has made $57 million for Warner Bros. in two weeks.
The big opening for Dawn helped give the summer box office a shot in the arm, but it wasn't enough to stop an overall downward trend. The weekend's box office was down nearly 24 percent from the corresponding weekend last year, according to Rentrak. The summer overall is down 20 percent from last year, which was a record season for Hollywood.
The thinness of the summer schedule is a big reason for the drop. Whereas last year had multiple big-budget releases jockeying for position against each other, many weekends this summer have had little blockbuster competition. Last year's same weekend featured the openings of Grown Ups 2 and Pacific Rim, in addition to recent holdovers like Despicable Me 2 and The Heat.
But a bigger story emerged far outside the top 10 at No. 19: Boyhood, director Richard Linklater's 12-years-in-the-making drama, grossed $387,618 from just five screens over the weekend during its initial limited release.
The per-screen average of $71,800 reflected sellouts at theaters in New York and Los Angeles. Boyhood secured the second-highest per-screen average of the year following the record-breaking performance of Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel.
The scripted coming-of-age film -- shot in chunks over a dozen years -- follows a boy (Ellar Coltrane) growing up while his parents (Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette) mature with him. Linklater's nearly three-hour film was a hit when it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, and the rave reviews have only continued. A rare 100 percent positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes, strong word of mouth and an aggressive social media campaign added to the film's early success.
"Looking back, it seemed like a tremendous risk. But at that time when we sat down, it seemed like an obvious easy yes," said Jonathan Sehring, whose IFC Films financed Boyhood and released the film.
IFC, which is owned by AMC Networks, had financed Linklater's real-time relationship drama Tapeand animated cerebral picture Waking Life by the time the director approached Sehring about Boyhood.
"It came prior to our company greenlighting Mad Men and Breaking Bad," Sehring said. "It's all about embracing great storytelling. Everything could have gone wrong, and nothing did. Everybody had the same goal and the same vision and the same passion. And that all goes back to [Linklater]."
He added that "the audience so far has been everyone from octogenarians to 13-year-olds -- and they are all applauding. It's really gratifying."
Sehring said the film will expand to 10 markets this weekend.
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
The top 20 movies at U.S. and Canadian theaters Friday through Sunday, followed by distribution studio, gross, number of theater locations, average receipts per location, total gross and number of weeks in release, as compiled Monday by Rentrak, are:
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, 20th Century Fox, $72,611,427, 3,967 locations, $18,304 average, $72,611,427, 1 week.
Transformers: Age of Extinction, Paramount, $16,302,415, 3,913 locations, $4,166 average, $208,833,713, 3 weeks.
Tammy, Warner Bros., $12,555,151, 3,465 locations, $3,623 average, $56,998,752, 2 weeks.
22 Jump Street, Columbia, $6,501,558, 2,811 locations, $2,313 average, $171,762,697, 5 weeks.
How to Train Your Dragon 2, 20th Century Fox, $6,073,372, 2,885 locations, $2,105 average, $152,276,733, 5 weeks.
Earth to Echo, Relativity Media, $5,488,277, 3,230 locations, $1,699 average, $24,585,816, 2 weeks.
Deliver Us From Evil, Columbia, $4,750,289, 3,049 locations, $1,558 average, $25,052,099, 2 weeks.
Maleficent, Disney, $4,180,586, 2,077 locations, $2,013 average, $222,005,394, 7 weeks.
Begin Again, The Weinstein Company, $2,820,839, 939 locations, $3,004 average, $5,171,587, 3 weeks.
Jersey Boys, Warner Bros., $2,517,430, 1,968 locations, $1,279 average, $41,712,040, 4 weeks.
Think Like a Man Too, Columbia, $2,400,983, 1,231 locations, $1,950 average, $61,807,245, 4 weeks.
America, Lionsgate, $2,393,811, 1,105 locations, $2,166 average, $8,211,791, 3 weeks.
Edge of Tomorrow, Warner Bros., $1,813,249, 1,103 locations, $1,644 average, $94,498,341, 6 weeks.
The Fault in Our Stars, 20th Century Fox, $1,506,215, 1,002 locations, $1,503 average, $119,629,699, 6 weeks.
Chef, Open Road, $1,259,140, 701 locations, $1,796 average, $24,075,530, 10 weeks.
X-Men: Days of Future Past, 20th Century Fox, $1,025,365, 655 locations, $1,565 average, $229,162,436, 8 weeks.
Snowpiercer, Radius-TWC, $635,370, 356 locations, $1,785 average, $2,635,471, 3 weeks.
Rio 2, 20th Century Fox, $392,099, 285 locations, $1,376 average, $129,626,911, 14 weeks.
Boyhood, IFC Films, $387,618, 5 locations, $77,524 average, $387,618, 1 week.
Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania, Reliance Big Entertainment PVT. Ltd., $380,011, 101 locations, $3,762 average, $380,011, 1 week.
MovieStyle on 07/18/2014
Print Headline: Apes overpower transformers