Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s… After a Friday night showdown that heavily tipped the scales in favor of the survival-horror thriller The Purge: Anarchy, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes came back strong this weekend to take the No. 1 spot at the box office.
The Apes sequel, starring motion-capture master Andy Serkis as the hyper-evolved higher primate named Caesar, collected $36 million for the weekend, according to Sunday estimates. Meanwhile, The Purge: Anarchy, a follow-up to last year’s nightmare-inducer about a 12-hour period when no crime is illegal, garnered only $28.3 million.
The Purge wasn’t entirely beloved by its terror-craving audience, getting only a B from the polling firm Cinemascore—compared to the A-minus received by Apes. So-so word-of-mouth may have led to the Saturday stumble.
It’s still a terrific opening for the Universal horror movie, which cost only $9 million to make (compared to an estimated $170 million budget for the Apes film, which has earned back only $138 million domestically so far.) The winner there is obvious.
Apes is off to a strong start after only two weeks, however, and if it can maintain that it will stand as one of the stronger films of summer. For a while on Friday, it seemed Purge would take not just the spoils but the title as well. The movie earned $13 million from Friday night showings, compared to Apes’ lackluster $10.4 million, a 62 percent drop from its opening night a week before.
But Apes rallied big-time on Saturday, earning $14.8 million to Purge’s $9.5 million, which was a 27 percent drop from its opening night. The writing was on the wall: the Apes had it.
The No. 3 slot went to Planes: Fire & Rescue, a DisneyToon Studios sequel to last year’s family comedy about a adventurous airplanes, spun-off from Pixar’s Cars universe. With only $18 million—$4 mil less than the first Planes—that’s a pretty bad stall for a family movie in the middle of summer.
It’s low Friday gross of $6.3 million seemed like it may simply have been a reflection that not many adults turned out on opening night for kiddie fare. But then Fire & Rescue didn’t do much better during family-friendly matinee hours of Saturday, earning $6.6 million. The Cinemascore rating was an A, so those who did turn out enjoyed what they saw.
The same can’t be said for Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel’s Sex Tape, which nabbed a dismal C-plus Cinemascore, and opened in fourth place with only $15 million. Diaz had been on a comedy hot-streak lately, and this raunchy slapstick about a couple trying to prevent their friends and family from seeing an accidentally-uploaded boudoir video seemed like it would be primed to continue the trend.
But there was no Bad Teacher here. Just bad.
Critics were cruel, and audiences didn’t disagree. “Director Jake Kasdan, who also helmed Bad Teacher … doesn’t quite seem to know what tone he’s going for, and the last half of the movie veers wildly between crude hard-R comedy and warm-hearted teachable moments. Blessedly, it’s also short,” wrote EW’s Leah Greenblatt.
In limited release, Zach Braff’s partially Kickstarter-donation-funded Wish I Was Here opened in 68 theaters and earned $495,000 for a relatively strong $7,300 per screen. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind director Michel Gondry’s whimsical French dramedy Mood Indigo collected $25,100 in two locations, for an average of 12,550 per screen.
The philosophical sci-fi saga I Origins earned $28,700 in four locations, for an average of $7,175, while Persecuted, a paranoid thriller about a preacher framed for murder, straddled the wide-release/limited-release framework by launching in 736 theaters, but earning only $959,000, 0r $1,300 per screen.
In its second weekend, Richard Linklater’s beloved Boyhood, charting the life of one Texas kid as he grows up (it took 12 years to shoot), earned a robust $1.2 million as it expanded from five to 33 screens, collecting a powerful $36,000 per theater. That brings its tally to $1.8 million, with much room to continue growing.
Here’s the top five:
1. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes– $36 million weekend ($138 domestic total)
2. The Purge: Anarchy — $28.3 million weekend (new)
3. Planes: Fire & Rescue – $18 million weekend (new)
4. Sex Tape – $15 million weekend (new)
5. Transformers: Age of Extinction – $10 million weekend ($227.2 million domestic total)