Friday’s Box Office: Apes Put Up Decent Fight, Spider-Man Tumbles

War for the Planet of the Apes starts strongly but may struggle to keep up.


Friday reports have come in, per Box Office Mojo, and if one thing is evident it’s that franchise fatigue is still in play this summer.

Fox’s War for the Planet of the Apes brought in a reported $22.1 million from 4,022 venues – including $5m from Thursday showings. Despite War posting a slightly higher preview number than its predecessor, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes ($4.1m), its Friday was down -20% from that film’s $27.6m. If War plays like Dawn for the weekend, it will gross around $58m. This is an underwhelming debut for the acclaimed threequel, but it is by no means a flop – Fox reports the budget is a reasonable $150m, compared to Dawn’s $170m production cost.

Simply put, audiences don’t appear to be enthusiastic over franchise fare this summer; when you have had a slew of sequels and adaptations throughout the year, and many of them are good, it’s difficult to stand out from the pack. Especially considering the shifting box office landscape – summer was once a haven for studio tentpoles, but as movies begin to stake claims any time of the year, it is becoming “just another season.” Marketing for War, while large-scale, did not differentiate itself from Dawn in a way that demands to be seen (it reiterated action, post-apocalyptic human-ape interaction, and spectacular VFX).

The only arguable hook War offered was the finale factor, another tool that has lost its luster over the years. From The Dark Knight Rises to this year’s Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, a finale is still worthy of marketing, but it’s not seen as a be-all-end-all event (both films saw declines from their respective predecessors, for example). Another factor that hurt War is the competitive landscape. Whereas Dawn only faced Transformers: Age of Extinction (in its third frame, to boot), War is facing the likes of Spider-Man: Homecoming, Despicable Me 3, and next week’s Dunkirk. I’m also curious if this year’s Kong: Skull Island (another big-budget spectacle featuring an ape at its core) had a negative effect on Apes.

If War for the Planet of the Apes manages to play like Dawn throughout its run, it will make somewhere between $165-170m in North America. If it can match/exceed Dawn internationally as well, we’re looking at a $665m+ global gross. No matter what anyone may claim, that is a great success for the $150m film.

In second place, Sony’s Spider-Man: Homecoming fell a sharp -73% from its opening Friday to gross $13.6 million. Surprisingly, this isn’t much higher than The Amazing Spider-Man 2’s $10m second Friday, and a sharper drop as well (albeit, Homecoming has bigger numbers overall). Homecoming is eying a $48 million sophomore weekend, -59% from its $117m debut. Fans of Spidey came out in droves last weekend to see this new, acclaimed iteration of the character, but after 10 years of meh-to-bad Spider-Man movies, audiences may be more hesitant to embrace it. That being said, Homecoming will have grossed $211m by weekend’s end, passing Amazing Spider-Man 2’s lifetime total ($200.8m) in 10 days. At this point, it is more important for Sony to rebuild Spider-Man’s goodwill, ala Batman Begins, than it is to hit a financial milestone such as $1 billion worldwide. Homecoming has a shot at $300 million domestically if it can hold next weekend, but a $285m stateside/$800m global gross wouldn’t be bad at all for the $175m reboot, and the positive reception from this film could make its sequel an even bigger hit.

In third place, Universal/Illumination’s Despicable Me 3 banked $6.1 million in its third Friday, a -47% decline from its second. The $80m animation flick should take in around $18 million this weekend, down -53.6% (the same drop it had last weekend, and identical with Minions) for a $187m cume. Despicable Me 3 is on pace for a $230m+ domestic total – a concerning -38% drop from Despicable Me 2 ($368m), but considering this third entry cost a light (for the genre) $80m to produce, it will still make Universal a lot of money. Still, they’ll have to think about what they want to do for a Despicable Me 4, and the performance of Minions 2 in 2020 will be one to watch.

In fourth place, Sony’s Baby Driver revved $2.6 million, a light -35.2% from last Friday’s $3.9 million. Look for an $8.7 million third weekend for the praised Edgar Wright original, and a domestic cume nearing $73 million. This is a success for all involved, and a $90m final haul is in the cards.

In fifth place, Lionsgate/Amazon’s nationwide expansion of The Big Sick amassed $2.47 million, a decent result for the Michael Showalter-directed romantic comedy. Big Sick should gross around $8m for the weekend, bringing its total to a healthy $16.5m. The Big Sick should also surpass Lionsgate/Amazon’s Hell or High Water ($27m) to be their highest-grossing collaboration yet.

The last new release of the weekend ended up in sixth place. Broad Green’s Wish Upon grossed $2.28 million (including $376,000 from Thursday showings), giving it a higher per-theater average than The Big Sick ($1,016 vs. $953). Big Sick will stay in the Top 5 for the weekend, however, as Wish Upon’s negative reception (21% critical rating on Rotten Tomatoes; 4.5/10 on IMDb from 376 ratings) puts in on track for a $5m weekend. This isn’t the disaster I was expecting, and the film has a shot at matching its $12m production cost. I also imagine Broad Green covered much of the film’s cost by selling international rights. Conversely, the movie will likely be forgotten by next week, and that’s never something to boast.

That concludes this Friday’s box office report. Thanks for reading, and look forward to the final weekend report come Monday.


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