Things were looking slightly better at the box office this weekend with a return to the blockbuster sequels that tend to be reliable moneymakers. That was certainly the case with Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (20th Century Fox), directed by Matt Reeves (Cloverfield) and starring Andy Serkis, Jason Clarke, Gary Oldman, Keri Russell and more, which topped the domestic box office with an estimated $73 million this weekend in 3,967 theaters.
Averaging 18.4 thousand per theater, that opening was 33% higher than the previous installment of the sci-fi franchise, 2011’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and the sequel is looking to become the next movie to gross $200 million this summer with a strong A- CinemaScore.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes also opened on 4,903 screens in 26 overseas markets where it brought in additional $31 million, topping the box office in 14 of those territories. The top two markets were Korea with $11.4 million in 910 theaters–a 105% bigger opening than “Rise”–while Australia’s 467 theaters brought in $6.6 million
Speaking of milestones, Michael Bay and Mark Wahlberg’s global blockbuster Transformers: Age of Extinction (Paramount) crossed the $200 million mark domestically this weekend–the sixth movie to do so this year and fourth this summer–as it took second place with $16.5 million, down 56% from last week. Overseas, Bay’s fighting robot epic grossed another $102 million–including $20.4 million from its UK opening and $16.2 million from Mexico–bringing its international gross to $543 million, more than twice the $209 million from North America. As well as the sequel/reboot seems to be doing, especially internationally, the fact it’s bringing in less than 20% of its year-best opening weekend in its third weekend is not a good sign it will even get to the $300 million domestic gross of the first Transformers, although a billion worldwide wouldn’t be too surprising. It’s worldwide total has reached $752.5 million so far.
Melissa McCarthy comedy vehicle Tammy (Warner Bros.) help up fairly decently from its 4th of July opening, as it dropped to third place with $12.9 million, down 40% from its opening weekend, and it has grossed $57.4 million in less than two weeks.
It’s not often during the summer when movies are able to hold their places, but it’s happening more and more this summer with single movie release weekends. As it happens, the Channing Tatum-Jonah Hill comedy sequel 22 Jump Street (Sony) maintained fourth place with $6.7 million, while DreamWorks Animation’s animated sequel How to Train Your Dragon 2 remained in fifth place with $5.9 million. 22 Jump Street has grossed $172 million domestically, roughly $20 million more than the animated adventure sequel.
The family sci-fi action-adventure Earth to Echo (Relativity) also refused to budge from sixth place, adding $5.5 million from its total gross of $24.6 million. Since the movie cost $13 million to make, it’s safe to assume it will end up being profitable.
Unfortunately, that meant Scott (Sinister) Derrickson horror thriller Deliver Us From Evil (Screen Gems/Sony), starring Eric Bana, was the movie that took the biggest plunge with a 52% drop-off from fourth to seventh place. Its $4.7 million second weekend brought its total to $25 million, still short of its $30 million production budget.
Dropping to eighth place, Angelina Jolie’s fairy tale epic Maleficent (Walt Disney Studios), made $4.2 million in its seventh week in the Top 10 with $222 million grossed domestically, putting it in line to surpass X-Men: Days of Future Past as the third-highest grossing movie of 2014 by summer’s end. It added another $13.4 million overseas to bring its global take to $669 million.
John Carney’s musical romance Begin Again (The Weinstein Company), starring Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo, expanded nationwide into 939 theaters on Friday where it brought in $2.9 million, enough to get it into the Top 10 at #9.
Falling outside the Top 10 but significant for its negligible drop was director Dinesh D’Souza’s documentary America: Imagine a World Without Her (Lionsgate), which followed a fairly weak opening by holding up well with an 11% drop from its first weekend of wide release. It probably wasn’t too big a surprise considering its A+ CinemaScore–compared to a 10% Rotten critics’ score on Rotten Tomatoes–but it took 12th place with $2.4 million and $7.4 million grossed so far.
Even sadder than America‘s strong word-of-mouth business was the fact that the Top 10 was still quite a ways off from the same weekend last year – down nearly $50 million from the national tragedy when Adam Sandler’s Grown Ups 2 (Sony) beat Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim (Legendary/WB), $41.5 to $37.3 million. They both missed out on the top spot that was held once again by Universal’s Despicable Me 2 with $43.9 million.
This weekend’s most significant limited release was Richard Linklater’s acclaimed Boyhood (IFC Films), starring newcomer Ellan Coltrane, Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette. Opening in five locations in New York and Los Angeles, the nearly 3-hour slice of life drama 12 years in the making took in an impressive $359 thousand or $72 thousand per theater. It opened slightly weaker than Linklater’s previous film, the Oscar-nominated Before Midnight, although that received a boost by opening over Memorial Day weekend.
This was easily one of IFC Films’ best openings of the company’s 15-year history doing even better per theater than Werner Herzog’s 3D doc Cave of Forgotten Dreams in 2011. However, it’s a far cry from the platform release of Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel earlier this year ($811 thousand in 4 theaters) and that has grossed $58.7 million.
It certainly will be interesting to see how IFC Films expands this one and whether they can make it only the third movie they’ve released to gross over $10 million–you can see the others here–and whether it can crack the $10.5 million ceiling of Richard Linklater’s previous indie films.
The other platform release of the weekend was the Icelandic travelogue comedy Land Ho! (Sony Pictures Classics), which grossed $37.8 thousand on four screens in New York and L.A., or $9.4 thousand per site.