Fox’s “War for the Planet of the Apes” battled to $5 million at 3,251 North American locations on Thursday night.
The number is 22% above “Dawn of the Planet of Apes,” which took in $4.1 million in previews three years ago.
“War for the Planet of the Apes” is expanding on Friday to 4,022 sites, with tracking in the $60 million to $65 million range for its opening frame. 2011’s “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” debuted with $54.8 million, while 2014’s “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” launched with $72.6 million at the domestic box office.
“War for the Planet of the Apes” has received a strong 93% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The film, directed by “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” helmer Matt Reeves, is the third and final film in the rebooted “Apes” franchise — all produced by Chernin Entertainment. It’s set two years after “Dawn” as Andy Serkis’ Caesar, the leader of the apes, has to deal with the ruthless Alpha Omega human military faction led by Woody Harrelson’s villainous Colonel.
“War for the Planet of the Apes” is opening a week after Sony’s “Spider-Man: Homecoming” dazzled the industry with a $117 million opening, the third-biggest launch of 2017. It also carries strong critical support with a 92% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and is expected to wind up its second weekend with about $50 million.
Sony is also opening “War for the Planet of the Apes” in 62 international markets this weekend. It’s launching at a critical point of the summer season, which has seen more misses than hits so far with flops pulling the summer box office down 7.8% as of July 12 to $2.37 billion, according to comScore. Overall year-to-date business — bolstered by a strong first quarter — trails 2016 by 0.8% at $6.13 billion.
The weekend’s other new entry is Broad Green’s horror thriller “Wish Upon” at 2,250 domestic locations. It’s opening amid modest expectations of about $8 million. Joey King stars a put-upon teen who discovers a magic box that grants wishes — but also brings on horrific consequences.
Lionsgate is expanding Amazon Studios’ romantic comedy “The Big Sick,” starring Kumail Nanjiani and Zoe Kazan, to 2,597 sites from 326 locations last weekend. The film, which has generated strong reviews, is based on Nanjani’s real-life courtship of his wife Emily V. Gordon.
“The Big Sick” has grossed an impressive $8 million so far in limited release. Recent forecasts have pegged “The Big Sick” at around $11 million for a fourth-place finish behind the third weekend of “Despicable Me 3.” Illumination-Universal’s animated comedy will likely grab about $20 million at 4,535 locations.
“With eight weekends to go in the summer, Fox’s well-reviewed ‘War For The Planet Of The Apes’ joins ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ in a common goal to boost the fortunes of a season that has suffered under the weight of five consecutive down weekends vs. last year and a 8% running deficit,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst with comScore.
“Fortunately, the goodwill created by these two critically acclaimed blockbusters, plus the much-anticipated wide expansion of Lionsgate’s limited release crowd favorite ‘The Big Sick’ and the continued allure of Sony’s ‘Baby Driver’ will go a long way toward renewing audience faith in the quality of the offerings now in multiplexes,” he added.