Box office hits and misses: ‘Planet of the Apes’ rules as ‘Spider-Man’ takes a dive

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The third film in the Planet of the Apes prequel trilogy didn’t have as strong of a premiere as expected, but it was Spider-Man’s fall that might be the real story.

It was a mixed bag for the biggest movies in theaters this week, as the War for the Planet of the Apes box office numbers were enough for a win against last week’s champion, Spider-Man: Homecoming, but neither film enjoyed the sort of weekend that makes studios overly optimistic.

Director Matt Reeves’ conclusion to the Planet of the Apes prequel trilogy earned rave reviews from professional critics and audiences alike with its 95-percent approval rating on RottenTomatoes and “A-” grade on CinemaScore, but its $56.5 million premiere was on the low end of pundits’ predictions for the film. This puts War right in the middle of the pack, as it’s a slightly better debut than 2011’s franchise-starter Rise of the Planet of the Apes ($54.8 million) but well below 2014’s Dawn of the Planet of the Apes ($72.6 million).

It will be interesting to see if the film’s positive reviews will be enough to carry it on a sufficiently lengthy run in theaters to close out the series on a high note.

# Title Weekend U.S. Total Worldwide Total
1. War for the Planet of the Apes $56.5M $56.5M $102.5M
2. Spider-Man: Homecoming $45.2M $208.2M $469.3M
3. Despicable Me 3 $18.9M $187.9M $619.3M
4. Baby Driver $8.7M $73.1M $96.2M
5. The Big Sick $7.6M $16M $16.1M
6. Wonder Woman $6.8M $380.6M $764.8M
7. Wish Upon $5.5M $5.5M $5.5M
8. Cars 3 $3.1M $140M $222.9M
9. Transformers: The Last Knight $2.7M $124.8M $517.2M
10. The House $1.7M $23.1M $28.5M

One movie that didn’t seem to benefit from the good buzz surrounding it was Spider-Man: Homecoming, which dropped more than 61 percent from last week’s impressive $117 million opening weekend. Although it added another $45.2 million to its domestic ticket sales, that steep drop from one week to the next is a bit surprising, given the film’s overwhelmingly positive reviews. Typically, films that debut big but get savaged by critics tend to drop by more than 60 percent in their second weeks — Suicide Squad and Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice are prime examples of this — but Homecoming did exceptionally well with critics and general audiences, and this sort of drop isn’t usual for movies set in Marvel’s cinematic universe.

Can Spider-Man swing back into audiences’ good graces in its third week? This is one to watch, even if the movie’s $469.3 million worldwide so far ensures that it’s anything but a failure.

The only other new release to find its way into the top ten films was the horror movie Wish Upon, which matched its poor reviews with a fairly low debut: $5.5 million. As with a lot of recent horror films, the movie’s low production costs ($12 million) will likely make this a win for the studio in the end, no matter how long it stays in theaters.

One other noteworthy element in this week’s box-office numbers is the continued success of Wonder Woman, which is now inching closer to Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 on the domestic box-office rankings and is poised to take the title of the biggest movie of the summer in U.S. theaters.

Two big movies make their debut in theaters this upcoming week, with Christopher Nolan’s war drama Dunkirk expected to draw significant audiences, while The Fifth Element director Luc Besson’s return to the space opera genre finally happens with the sci-fi adventure Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. They’re two very different movies with a lot of buzz behind them, so it’s anyone’s guess how the weekend will pan out — particularly with so many big movies that arrived in recent weeks, too.

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