‘Planet of the Apes’ topples ‘Spider-Man’ in weekend debut

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“War for the Planet of the Apes,” 20th Century Fox’s third installment in the dystopian film series about a war between man and simian, opened as the No. 1 movie in North America this weekend, toppling Sony Corp.’s superhero feature “Spider-Man: Homecoming.”

“Planet of the Apes” took in an estimated $56.5 million in U.S. and Canadian theaters, researcher ComScore Inc. said in an email Sunday, while “Spider-Man” collected $45.2 million to place second in its second weekend. The horror feature “Wish Upon,” the only other movie opening in wide release, brought in $5.6 million for Broad Green Pictures.

The new “Apes” installment from the film division of 21st Century Fox Inc., while critically praised, got sandwiched between an equally loved “Spider-Man” and the widely anticipated Christopher Nolan war film “Dunkirk,” which comes out next weekend. It’s also contending with a generally tough climate for movies this summer, with domestic sales down from a year ago.

Directed by Matt Reeves, the film stars Andy Serkis as the ape leader Caesar, who confronts the Colonel, the merciless human leader played by Woody Harrelson, in a battle between humans and apes.

“War for the Planet of the Apes” cost Fox about $150 million to make, according to Box Office Mojo. Forecasts for domestic weekend sales ranged from $54 million at BoxOfficePro.com to $70 million at Box Office Mojo. Rottentomatoes.com, which distills critics’ reviews into a single score, gave the film a 94 percent positive rating.

The movie opened in line with the studio’s expectations, said Chris Aronson, president of domestic distribution for Twentieth Century Fox. The film was critically praised and will be profitable, he said.

“This franchise stands apart from others with its epic episodic storytelling, with very compelling characters that critics and audiences alike embrace,” Aronson said.

The film benefited from having little competition in its opening weekend in what typically is a crowded time for new releases.

The latest “Apes” movie is the third in a series that started in 2011 with “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” and is the ninth going back to the original featuring Charlton Heston in 1968.

The most recent predecessor, “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” cost $170 million to produce and collected $710.6 million in worldwide box-office sales in 2014. That film opened with weekend sales of $72.6 million in North America, according to Box Office Mojo.

Second weekend forecasts for “Spider-Man” ranged from $47 million to $57.3 million.

“Wish Upon,” starring Joey King and Ryan Phillippe, follows a teenage girl who discovers a box with magical powers. Soon bad things start to happen to the people around her.

The film cost about $12 million to make, according to Box Office Mojo, which was forecasting weekend sales of $7 million. The movie scored a low 23 percent positive rating at RottenTomatoes.

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