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Apes still in box office primacy

By Democrat-Gazette Press Services

This article was published July 25, 2014 at 2:19 a.m.

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LOS ANGELES -- A raunchy romantic comedy, an anarchy thriller and an animated kids' flick couldn't unseat the evolved primates ruling the box office.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, the 3-D sequel to the 2011 blockbuster Rise of the Planet of the Apes, took in more than $36 million in the U.S. and Canada during its second weekend at the multiplex, according to studio estimates, to remain at No. 1.

Twentieth Century Fox's latest entry in the Planet of the Apes franchise, which cost $170 million to make, continued to benefit from positive reviews and strong word of mouth. The second-weekend numbers brought the sequel's cumulative gross to about $139 million.

The Apes had serious competition with Sex Tape, The Purge: Anarchy and Planes: Fire & Rescue all opening this weekend.

Universal Pictures' thriller The Purge: Anarchy opened at No. 2, bringing in $29.8 million its first weekend. The film, a follow-up to last summer's hit The Purge, follows several people (played by Frank Grillo, Zoe Soul, Zach Gilford, Kiele Sanchez and Carmen Ejogo) as they attempt to survive a 12-hour period when all crime is legal.

The original, which cost $3 million to make and starred Ethan Hawke, debuted at No. 1 its opening weekend last year with $34.1 million. The sequel, which cost about $9 million, is the first horror film since September to open at more than $20 million. Audiences gave it an average B score, according to polling firm CinemaScore, a high mark for a film in the genre.

"I think people got caught up in the first one, and they came to see the second one," said Nikki Rocco, Universal's president of domestic distribution. "We are really pleased with the results. The marketplace has been very difficult for these types of films.

"There's always a built-in audience when it comes to horror," said Rocco, who hopes the franchise continues. "But maybe there's been nothing compelling until now."

Planes: Fire & Rescue came in at No. 3 after it pulled in $17.5 million. The Disney family film, which cost about $50 million to make, follows firefighting aircraft (voiced by Dane Cook, Ed Harris, Julie Bowen and Wes Studi) who team up to battle a wildfire. Its 2013 predecessor, Planes, tallied more than $90 million during its domestic run.

Sex Tape, starring Jason Segel and Cameron Diaz, didn't turn on critics -- it got a 20 percent positive score on Rotten Tomatoes -- and it pulled in $14.6 million to land at No. 4 for the weekend.

The Columbia Pictures raunchy romantic comedy, which cost about $40 million to make, follows married couple Jay (Segel) and Annie (Diaz), who try to bring the spark back into their marriage -- but their bedroom romp accidentally goes public. Naughty high jinks follow.

Sex Tape reunited Diaz and Segel with director Jake Kasdan. Kasdan directed their 2011 comedy Bad Teacher, which took in $216 million worldwide.

Paramount's Transformers: Age of Extinction, the only other summer film besides Dawn of the Planet of the Apes to hold the No. 1 spot for two consecutive weekends, added almost $10 million more, rounding out the top five films of the weekend.

In a limited release of 68 theaters, Zach Braff's crowd-funded Wish I Was Here also arrived with a tiny weekend opening of $495,000 for Focus Features. The film, Braff's directorial follow-up to 2004's Garden State, was much criticized for depending on fan contributions for funding. Wish I Was Here will expand to more theaters this week, but is expected to fall far short of the $26.8 million Garden State earned.

Beyond the slew of popcorn blockbusters competing for box-office millions, director Richard Linklater's acclaimed drama Boyhood continued to impress.

The coming-of-age odyssey -- shot in pieces over a dozen years -- grossed $1.17 million after it was expanded to 34 screens for its second weekend. Its impressive per-screen average of about $34,000 was some three times that of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, to place it at No. 15.

In its first weekend, Boyhood opened on just five screens and averaged about $72,000 per-screen, the second-highest average of the year following the record-breaking performance of Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel.

IFC Films will expand Boyhood to the top 25 markets this weekend.

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