Box Office: 'Dawn of the Planet of the Apes' Scores Stellar $73M Debut

UPDATED: The sequel, however, couldn't prevent summer domestic box office revenue from continuing to tumble year over year; Richard Linklater's "Boyhood" wows at the specialty box office, while "Begin Again" lands in the top 10.

Fox's critically acclaimed sequel Dawn of the Planet of the Apes roared its way to a stellar $73 million debut at the domestic box office, well ahead of the $54.8 million debut of Rise of the Planet of the Apes in August 2011 and furthering the studio's winning streak this summer.

The movie's successful opening, however, wasn't able to stop revenue from continuing to tumble over last year. North American box office revenue was down nearly 24 percent from the same weekend in 2013.

Fox is enjoying a bountiful summer nonetheless, and will become the first Hollywood major to cross the $1 billion mark in 2014 domestic ticket sales sometime on Sunday, thanks to Dawn, X-Men: Days of Future Past and The Fault in Our Stars. It's the fastest the studio has ever reached this milestone.

Internationally, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes opened to $31.1 million from its first 26 territories for a worldwide total of $104.1 million, including major markets South Korea and Australia, where it earned $11.4 million and $6.6 million, respectively. The movie is waiting to roll out in much of the world because of the bottleneck created by the World Cup.

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Fox domestic distribution chief Chris Aronson said Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is one of the rare times when critics and audiences, who gave the film an A- CinemaScore, agree. "It's obviously an incredibly satisfying trip the multiplex," he said.

Directed by Matt Reeves, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes features Andy Serkis returning in the role of Caesar the ape, who has decamped to the forest of Marin County with hundreds of other genetically evolved apes and primates. When they are threatened by a band of humans who have survived a worldwide plague, a fierce divide erupts asking whether peace can be restored, or whether war is the only way to determine who will emerge as Earth's dominant species.

The movie skewed male (58 percent), while 55 percent of the audience was over the age of 25. Dawn also played to a diverse audience, with Caucasians making up 48 percent, followed by African Americans (23 percent), Hispanics (16 percent) and Asians/other (14 percent).

Peter Chernin's Chernin Entertainment developed and produced both Apes movies.

The sequel, financed by Fox at an estimated $170 million, opens three years after origin movie Rise of the Planet of the Apes reinvigorated the iconic franchise. That film, directed by Rupert Wyatt, took in a strong $481.8 million at the worldwide box office, including $176.8 million in North America.

This time out, Gary Oldman, Jason Clarke, Keri Russell, Toby Kebbell, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Enrique Murciano and Kirk Acevedo are featured in the human cast. Reeves directed from a script by Mark Bomback, Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver, based on the characters created by Jaffa and Silver.

As with Rise of the Planet of the Apes, the sequel is drawing widespread praise for its use of motion capture. It's also being released in 3D.

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Among holdovers, Paramount's Transformers: Age of Extinction fell to No. 2 in its third weekend, grossing an estimated $16.5 million and crossing the $200 million mark at the domestic box office. Internationally, the tentpole continues to surge, grossing another $102 million for an international total of $543.5 million and global total of $752.5 million.

Melissa McCarthy's Tammy fell only 40 percent in its second weekend, grossing $12.9 million to come in No. 3. The R-rated comedy's domestic total through Sunday is $57.4 million. New Line made the movie for $20 million.

Dinesh D'Souza's documentary America boasted an even better hold in its second outing. The film placed No. 12 with $2.5 million — a decline of just 11 percent — for a total $8.3 million. America continues to pace behind the performance of his last documentary, 2016: Obama's America.

Richard Linklater's Boyhood made headlines in its debut at the specialty box office, grossing $359,000 from five theaters for a location average of $71,8000, the second-best of the year after The Grand Budapest Hotel ($202,792).

Boyhood, starring Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke and Ellar Coltrane, was shot intermittently over a 12-year period in order to chronicle the story of a boy as he grows up in a divorced household.

IFC Films chief Jonathan Sehring and his boss, AMC Networks chief Josh Sapan, said in a statement that their investment in the unusual undertaking has paid off.

“Back in 2002, we thought Rick’s idea was an extraordinary notion and we believed him to be a great filmmaker. Putting our creative and commercial fates in the hands of people who are brilliant has proven to be a terrific strategy for the company and we couldn’t’ be happier to have supported Rick’s creative vision. The result is a film for the ages and we can’t wait to bring Boyhood to the rest of the country in the weeks to come," the pair said. 

John Carney's specialty movie Begin Again moved into the top 10 as it expanded into a total of 939 theaters, earning a pleasing $2.9 million for a cume of $5.3 million for The Weinstein Co.

Here are the top 10 estimates for the weekend of July 11-July 13 at the domestic box office:

Title, Weeks in Release/Theater Count, Studio, Friday Total, Percentage Change, Cume

1. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, 1/3,967, Fox, $73 million.

2. Transformers: Age of Extinction, 3/3,913, Paramount, $16.5 million, -55%, $209 million.

3. Tammy, 2/3,465, Warner Bros./New Line, $12.9 million, -40%, $57.4 million.

4. 22 Jump Street, 5/2,811, Sony/MGM, $6.7 million, -32%, $172 million.

5. How to Train Your Dragon 2, 5/2,885, Fox/DWA, $5.9 million, -35%, $152.1 million.

6. Earth to Echo, 2/3,230, Relativity, $5.5 million, -34%, $24.6 million.

7. Deliver Us From Evil, 2/3,049, Sony, $4.7 million, -52%, $25 million.

8. Maleficent, 7/2,077, Disney, $4.2 million, -32%, $222 million.

9. Begin Again, 3/939, The Weinstein Co., $2.9 million, +134%, $5.3 million.

10. Jersey Boys, 4/1,968, Warner Bros., $2.5 million, -51%, $41.7 million.