Apes Not Purged at Weekend Box Office
By John Hamann
July 20, 2014
Another weekend at the Summer 2014 box office, and another soft result. Other than Transformers: Age of Extinction (a movie most of us would rather not think about) and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, June and July 2014 have been ugly at the box office to say the least.
For new films this weekend, the ugliness just continues. We have three new openers this weekend: The Purge: Anarchy and Planes: Fire and Rescue are sequels. Both of these films failed to match the opening totals of the originals, while Sex Tape, a comedy that sounds salacious, is limp both in content and as a box office result. We are left with a repeat winner in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and a top 12 total at the box office that resembles a March total, not a July total. The odd thing, though, is that studios are not hurting from this ineptitude. Budgets are low enough for the people making these dogs to survive. However, I wouldn’t want to be an exhibitor in a summer like this.
Our number one film of the weekend is the holdover Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, as at least a good film repeats at number one instead of a dog like Transformers 4. Following one of the few high points at this year’s summer box office when Dawn opened to $72.6 million last weekend, it stays on top despite three newcomers entering the marketplace. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes had a second Friday take of $10.4 million – where it finished second to start the weekend, $2.6 million behind newcomer The Purge: Anarchy. It was off a hurtful 62% Friday-to-Friday, which may seem large, but is actually better Friday-to-Friday drop than Transformers 4 (75%), X-Men: Days of Future Past (74%), Godzilla (77%), and Captain America: The Winter Soldier (68%). As Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is a holdover, the rush to see it isn’t as evident this weekend, and with The Purge sequel being a horror film, the Matt Reeves blockbuster sequel had every chance to come back and slay the dragon this weekend.
Slay it did. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes had an 42% uptick on Saturday to $14.8 million, and finished the weekend with a decent, but not spectacular take of $36 million. It fell 50% weekend-to-weekend, which is much better than the bigger openers this year, where the standard drop for a blockbuster has been 65% plus. With smaller competition this weekend, and none as a direct competition for the PG demographic (new releases are either rated R or G this weekend), Dawn of the Planet of the Apes was able to hold decently, leaving Fox looking pretty good for a mid-July release strategy. Obviously moviegoers like it, given the A- Cinemascore and 93% audience approval rating at RottenTomatoes (37 points higher than Transformers 4).
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes crossed the $100 million mark on Thursday, its seventh day of release, the same amount of time it took Inception and I Am Legend. Both of those films finished with $250 million plus, and while I don’t think that will happen here (the summer track record so far certainly doesn’t support it), a gross beyond $200 million should be doable. Again, I thought Godzilla, X-Men and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 were all locks for $200 million plus, and Godzilla hasn’t made it, while Spidey limped over the line. So far, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes has earned $139 million versus its $170 million budget stateside, and is seeing a slower rollout overseas, where it has picked up $101 million so far.