Director Matt Reeves' War for the Planet of the Apes succeeded in scaring off Spider-Man: Homecoming at the North American box office, winning the weekend with an estimated $56.5 million from 4,022 theaters.
That's a relief for 20th Century Fox, considering many had expected a closer race between the two films. Sony and Marvel Studios' rebooted Spider-Man ended up declining more than expected in its sophomore outing, falling 61 percent to $45.2 million for a domestic total of $208.3 million.
War for the Planet of the Apes came in 22 percent behind the previous film in the Apes franchise, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, which debuted to $72.6 million in 2014. That's not a terrible fall-off, but it is another reminder of the troubling sequel fatigue that's causing Hollywood studio executives plenty of angst. Fox has said all along this would be the final title in the refurbished series about intelligent primates.
Overseas, War opened in less than a third of the marketplace, including two of the top 10 major territories, grossing $46 million from 62 markets for a global bow of $102.5 million. The U.K. led with $9.5 million, including previews, which is 15 percent behind the last installment, although overall internationally, War opened on par with Dawn.
Costing $150 million to produce before marketing, the threequel follows Caesar (Andy Serkis) as he and the other apes try to survive the ongoing war with mankind and the wrath of a ruthless human dictator (Woody Harrelson). Chernin Entertainment produced. War for the Planet of the Apes sports a glowing 94 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes and grabbed an A- CinemaScore.
"It isn't just another sequel. It is episodic storytelling that is episodic involving complex characters. This movie is going to play the rest of the summer and have a huge multiple," says Fox domestic distribution chief Chris Aronson, noting there aren't any more major summer tentpoles left.
The movie skewed male (57 percent), while 65 percent of ticket buyers were 25 and older.
Spider-Man: Homecoming has likewise been embraced by critics and audiences. In terms of its second weekend drop, the tentpole fell more than the summer's two other superhero pics, Wonder Woman (43 percent) and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (56 percent), but is certainly in keeping with many other comic book adaptations.
Internationally, Homecoming took in another $72.3 million from 64 territories for a foreign cume of $261.1 million and $469.4 million globally. It has yet to open in China, Japan and Spain. The pic appears to have narrowly beat Despicable Me 3 to top the foreign chart.
The weekend's other new offering, Wish Upon, got lost in its debut with an estimated $5.5 million from 2,250 theaters to place No. 7. The supernatural horror pic, from Broad Green Pictures and Orion Pictures, stars Joey King, Ryan Phillippe and Elisabeth Rohm and revolves around a young girl who is given a music box by her father that grants her every wish, with terrifying consequences. Wish Upon received a C CinemaScore, not unusual for a horror title.
After War for the Planet of the Apes, the other big headline of the weekend was Michael Showalter's The Big Sick, which expanded nationwide after a stellar limited run. The romantic comedy placed No. 5 with $7.6 million from 2,597 cinemas for an early cume of roughly $16 million.
Amazon Studios acquired the critical hit out of Sundance before partnering with Lionsgate on the theatrical release. From a script by Kumail Nanjiani and his now-wife, Emily Gordon, The Big Sick draws from their real-life courtship and revolves around a young Pakistani comedian (Nanjiani) and his American girlfriend (Zoe Kazan) who must contend with their cultural differences and two very different sets of parents. Judd Apatow produced.
Elsewhere, Despicable Me 3 placed No. 3 in its third weekend with $18.9 million from 4,155 theaters for a domestic total of $188 million. Universal and Illumination Entertainment's animated event film is doing much bigger business overseas, grossing another $71 million from 63 markets to pass the $400 million threshold internationally and finish Sunday with a global total of $519.4 million, including $113.6 million in China.
Edgar Wright's offbeat heist thriller Baby Driver also stayed high up on the chart, coming in No. 4 with $8.8 million from 3,043 theaters for a domestic total of $73.1 million. The critically acclaimed movie, Sony's second win of the summer, was produced by TriStar Pictures and MRC. Baby Driver is also impressing overseas, earning $23.1 million to date from 19 markets for $96.2 million globally.
Wonder Woman — now in its seventh weekend — finally fell out of the top five to come in at No. 6 with $6.9 million from 2,744 locations for a domestic cume of $380.7 million. The Warner Bros. release is enjoying an unheard-of hold and is now assured of topping out at $395 million or more domestically, among the top showings of all time for the genre. On Monday, it will pass the final Harry Potter film ($381 million) to become the No. 3 Warners release of all time behind The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises, not accounting for inflation.