5th Writethru Sunday AM following Saturday Posts:  20th Century Fox’s War for the Planet of the Apes is coming in around where the industry saw it yesterday with $56.5M, the second best for the franchise after its previous chapter Dawn of the Planet of the Apes ($72.6M) and above the first installment Rise of the Planet of the Apes ($54.8M).

The movie in its debut played akin to a non-superhero threequel, off 21% from Dawn, and is considered OK by industry standards. If there’s any kind of sigh here, it’s just that when studios build movies this big, and War carries a $150M production cost before P&A, the expectation is to swell, and 20th Century Fox pulled out all the stops in promoting this threequel 10 months in advance at New York’s Comic-Con with a six minute unfinished scene and a teaser trailer. The gorilla’s horde of cash here will come from overseas, which is where Rise (63%) and Dawn (70%) reaped the most. Heading into the weekend, rival studios had some pretty aggressive estimates out there for War, but Fox never saw the threequel in that upper box office sphere,  especially in this summer marketplace which has been severe for any title that’s not part of a superhero franchise.

The problem this season isn’t so much that there’s been franchise films, rather an overabundance of those further along in their chapters, read Pirates of the Caribbean 5, Transformers 5, Alien 6 (or 8 if you count the two Alien vs. Predator spinoffs) and that overall effect waters down each film’s B.O., and the summer’s ticket sales overall. With sequels nowadays, studios have to justify their reasons even more to ticket buyers as to why it’s worth going to see; and the trick is to turn a sequel inside out, and take its reinvention to the next level, read Spider-Man: Homecoming

“War of the Planet of the Apes sets itself apart from any other franchise film in that it’s not just another movie for the sake of another movie. It’s linear episodic storytelling on a grand scale. It is not just a gratuitous sequel. Critics and audiences are align in sync in their praise of this movie, and this is an incredible start,” said 20th Century Fox distribution boss Chris Aronson this morning.

Some promising signs for War‘s legs is that moviegoers loved it just as much as Dawn and Rise with an A- CinemaScore with both titles respectively legging out to $208.5M and $176.8M domestic. Dawn turned a $182M+ profit off a $710.6M global ticket sales, 15% of that coming from China. After grossing $22.1M on Friday including $5M previews, War was down 13% with $19.2M on Saturday. Updated demos via PostTrak show 57% guys 63% over 25.

20th Century Fox

In regards to why War was slower out of the gate, it could be argued the original trailers stalled moviegoers. Did they distinguish War enough from Dawn? You could say that War looked quite similar with its doom and gloom and angry monkeys. Director Matt Reeves showed off a trio of clips to the press at a Fox reel day last December and billed the film as an homage to modern westerns and Apocalypse Now. It’s debatable whether that cinematic sensibility was sold.

While Fox was able to get the critics on board, social media guru Relish Mix felt that the love wasn’t translating in the online chatter heading into the weekend with mixed conversation, a socially disengaged cast and a “good, but not great” 265M social media universe across Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube for a sci-fi/fantasy film.

“The naysayers and dubious moviegoers reflect overtones of franchise fatigue and ‘what makes this one new?’  There are even bizarre references to racism and comparisons to today’s political and social spectrum,” points out Relish Mix. The social media monitor further adds, “War has a real problem with its cast.  There really is no social star, although all credit to Andy Serkis for sharing on his Twitter feed and doing a massive amount of PR/interviews for the campaign. Woody Harrelson, the one name the film boasts, is not activated on his Facebook page. Steve Zahn is not activated.  And the rest of the cast that is activated is minuscule (1.5M all in).”

No surprise here in regards to demos. Men turned out repping 58% of War‘s Friday night CinemaScore audience with 64% over 25. Fifty-seven percent attended because they’re Planet of the Apes fans.

Spider-Man Homecoming
Marvel/Screenshot

Sony/Marvel’s Spider-Man: Homecoming is estimated to file $45.2M in weekend 2 which is muchlower than the industry expected, but its 61% slide is on par with the second weekend declines of Amazing Spider-Man 2 (-61%) and Spider-Man 3 (-62%). Homecoming‘s second weekend dollar-wise is the third best after Spider-Man ($71.4M) and Spider-Man 3 ($58.1M) and slightly ahead of Spider-Man 2 ($45.1M). Thanks to its solid business during the week, the pic’s $208.3M running domestic cume by today will outstrip the lifetime U.S./Canada take of the previous title Amazing Spider-Man 2 ($202.9M). Through Sunday, Homecoming will be pacing 13% behind Spider-Man 3 which finaled at $336.5M domestic. On Friday, RelishMix reported continued wattage on social with the view counts for its top 25 spots on YouTube still in the 95k-200k range per day which is strong for the superhero genre. Robert Downey Jr. is still adding a consistent +24k new fans a day on Instagram and continues to plug the movie with Stan Lee. Tom Holland is also hot on Instagram with 2.6M followers and adding 74k new fans per day, all week long.

Warner Bros.

And that Wonder WomanShe’s chasing Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 to become this summer’s highest grossing film and the second best for 2017 within the next week. That Marvel sequel is in play at 399 sites this weekend and will see an estimated running cume in weekend 11 of $386.6M. By Sunday, Warner Bros./DC’s warrior princess will be $5.9M shy of overtaking the Star-Lord gang. Wonder Woman will see its fifth ease into the thirty-percentile range this weekend with an estimated $6.9M.

Expanding quite wide this weekend to 2,597 theaters is Amazon Studios/Lionsgate’s The Big SickIt’s lower than the $9M-$11M that was expected with $7.6M. Some people tell me that if the film finals in the $30M range, it’s fine after all home markets despite its $12M acquisition at Sundance and estimated $20M P&A spend (which Amazon is on the hook for). While some question the profit being made here off Big Sick especially after Lionsgate’s distribution fee, what needs to be considered is that Amazon Studio’s financial model is different from other distributors. Getting a movie like this into the $30M range not only gets Amazon customers to buy things at the end of the day, but also gives them credibility with the indie sector who’ll provide them with more titles at the end of the day.

Amazon/Lionsgate

The family comedic hijinks of this film is resonating with older adults and that demographic always takes time to make its way to the theater. Forty three percent of the audience here according to Screen Engine/ComScore’s PostTrak is over 35. In its opening week, Big Sick earned an A CinemaScore, and currently has an 83% total positive on PostTrak. The m.o. here with Big Sick is to get to 750 venues after this wide-blast and hold as long as possible at that level. The Emily V. Gordon-Kumail Nanjiani scripted comedy is already generating buzz among awards pundits s one of the best screenplays this year as well as high praise for Holly Hunter’s turn. Amazon Studios is in it for the long haul with The Big Sick.

Broad Green

Broad Green’s PG-13 horror title Wish Upon wishes it was doing better, DOA with a $5.6M take and lousy reviews at 21% Rotten. But when it comes to luring horror aficionados into their seats, it’s not just great reviews, but brands as well that click, specifically Blumhouse and James Wan. Relish Mix cites how the pic’s social media universe at 35.5M is half the average horror film, but the firm gives a thumbs up to stars Joey King and Ki Hong Lee for trying to spread any good word of mouth that exists around. Says Relish Mix, “Wish Upon has consistent horror movie convo in that it is decidedly mixed…Non-horror Fans and moviegoers looking for quality summertime fare are disappointed in its ’90s trailer.”

Studio estimates as of Sunday morning for the weekend of July 14-16:

1). War for the Planet of the Apes (FOX), 4,022 theaters / $22.1M Fri. (includes $5M previews) / $19.2M Saturday/$15.2M Sunday/3-day cume: $56.5M /Wk 1

2). Spider-Man: Homecoming (SONY/MARVEL), 4,348 theaters / $13.6M Fri. / $17.8M Saturday/$14M Sunday /3-day cume: $45.2M (-61%)/Total: $208.3M/Wk 2

3). Despicable Me 3 (UNI/ILL), 4,155 theaters (-380) / $6.2M Fri. /$7.4M Sat./$5.4M Sun/ 3-day cume: $18.9M (-44%) /Total: $188M/ Wk 3

4). Baby Driver (SONY), 3,043 theaters (-183) / $2.6M Fri. /$3.5M Sat/$2.6M Sun/ 3-day cume: $8.75M (-33%)/ Total cume: $73.1M / Wk 3

5.) The Big Sick (AMAZ/LGF), 2,597 theaters (+2,271) / $2.4M / $3.1M Saturday/$2M Sunday/-day cume: $7.6M (+113%)  /Total: $16M/Wk 4

6.) Wonder Woman (WB), 2,744 theaters (-347) / $2M Fri. /$2.8M Sat./$2M Sun/ 3-day cume: $6.9M (-30%)/ Total: $380.7M / Wk 7

7). Wish Upon (BG), 2,250 theaters / $2.2M Fri. (includes $367k) /$1.9M Saturday/ $1.4M Sunday/ 3-day cume: $5.6M /Wk 1

8). Cars 3 (DIS), 2,049 theaters (-653) / $933K Fri.  /$1.2M Saturday/$1M Sunday/ 3-day cume: $3.1M (-41%) / Total: $140M / Wk 4

9). Transformers: The Last Knight (PAR), 2,323 theaters (-918) / $791k Fri. /$1.15M  Sat/ $839K Sun/3-day cume: $2.78M (-57%)/ Total cume: $124.9M / Wk 4

10). The House (WB), 1,633 theaters (-1501)/ $560k Fri. /$705K/$530K Sun/ 3-day cume: $1.8M (-62%)/Total: $23.1M/ Wk 3

NOTABLES:

Jagga Jasoos (UTV), 250 theaters / $150K Fri./$204K Sat/$122K Sun/3-day cume: $476K /Wk 1

A Ghost Story (A24), 20 theaters (+16) / $50K Fri. / $54K Sat/$43K Sun/PTA: $22,4K/3-day cume: $146K (+40%)/Total: $289K/Wk 2

Lady Macbeth (RSA), 5 theaters / $21K Fri./PTA: $13,7k/3-day cume: $69K /Wk 1

Endless Poetry (ABK) 2 theaters/$14K PTA/3-day: $28K

Blind (VENT), 13 theaters / $3,5K Fri./$4,6K Sat/$3,4K Sun/PTA: $886/3-day cume: $11,5K /

**************************

1). War for the Planet of the Apes (FOX), 4,022 theaters / $22M Fri. (includes $5M previews) / 3-day cume: $57.5M /Wk 1

2). Spider-Man: Homecoming (SONY/MARVEL), 4,348 theaters / $13.8M Fri. (-73%) / 3-day cume: $47.4M (-60%)/Total: $210.4M/Wk 2

3). Despicable Me 3 (UNI/ILL), 4,155 theaters (-380) / $6.1M Fri. (-46%) / 3-day cume: $19.2M (-43%) /Total: $188.1M/ Wk 3

4). Baby Driver (SONY), 3,043 theaters (-183) / $2.6M Fri. (-34%)/ 3-day cume: $8.7M (-33%)/ Total cume: $73.1M / Wk 3

The Big Sick trailer
Amazon Studios

5.) The Big Sick (AMAZ/LGF), 2,597 theaters (+2,271) / $2.5M (+125%) / 3-day cume: $7.4M (+108%)  /Total: $15.8M/Wk 4

6.) Wonder Woman (WB), 2,744 theaters (-347) / $2M Fri. (-33%)/ 3-day cume: $6.6M (-33%)/ Total: $380.4M / Wk 7

7). Wish Upon (BG), 2,250 theaters / $2.3M Fri. (includes $367k) / 3-day cume: $5.6M /Wk 1

8). Cars 3 (DIS), 2,049 theaters (-653) / $929 Fri. (-47%) / 3-day cume: $2.9M (-45%) / Total: $139.7M / Wk 4

9). Transformers: The Last Knight (PAR), 2,323 theaters (-918) / $778k Fri. (-58%)/ 3-day cume: $2.7M (-57%)/ Total cume: $124.8M / Wk 4

10). The House (WB), 1,633 theaters (-1501)/ $566k Fri. (-63%) / 3-day cume: $1.8M (-62%)/Total: $23.1M/ Wk 3

NOTABLES:

Protagonist Pictures

Jagga Jasoos (UTV), 250 theaters / $150K Fri./3-day cume: $414K /Wk 1

A Ghost Story (A24), 20 theaters (+16) / $50K Fri. (+15%) / PTA: $22,4K/3-day cume: $149K (+44%)/Total: $292K/Wk 2

Lady Macbeth (RSA), 5 theaters / $21K Fri./PTA: $13k/3-day cume: $65K /Wk 1

Blind (VENT), 13 theaters / $4K Fri./PTA: $981/3-day cume: $13K /Wk 1

2nd Update, Friday 12:40 PM: 20th Century Fox’s War for the Planet of the Apes is looking more like the trilogy’s first movie Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Kong: Skull Island in regards to its box office pacing today with $18.5M-$20M including the $5M from last night. Rise made $19.5M on its first day six years ago, while Kong cleared $20.1M back in March. This puts War on a path for $50M-$55M this weekend.

Remember what happened with Kong: Skull Island? Estimates for that film were really low on its first day, prompting a $54M weekend estimate. But after folks got into the theater and saw how fun it was, the Legendary/WB title wound up overperforming with a $61M three-day. That trend conceivably could happen with War, especially when you factor in that it has a higher Rotten Tomatoes rating than Kong, 94% to 76%. Rise opened to $54.8M and legged out a 3.2x multiple off an A- CinemaScore. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes received an A- in 2014 and ended its run at $208.5M. Kong had a B+ and ended its run at $168M in a spring that was ruled by Beauty and the Beast and Logan. By the way, Beauty and the Beast remains the highest-grossing film of the year stateside at $504M. No summer title has topped it, with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 at $386M currently the season’s top title and 2017’s No. 2.

Sony Pictures

Meanwhile, Sony/Marvel’s Spider-Man: Homecoming is estimated to bring in $14M today, -72%, on its way to a $46M-$47M second-place take and a 10-day of $210M. As of now, it’s expected to stay in second place for the weekend.

Illumination/Universal’s Despicable Me 3 will see $7.5M in its third Friday and an estimated third three-day of $21M, taking its cume by Sunday to $190M.

Amazon/Lionsgate’s romantic comedy The Big Sick is estimated at $3M today, $8.5M in its fourth weekend expansion to 2,597 theaters. Cume by Sunday is $16.9M.

Broad Green’s Wish Upon is looking at $1.5M today and $4M for the weekend, per industry estimates.

1st Update,  Friday 7 AM: The 20th Century Fox threequel is off to solid start earning $5M at 3,251 locations, which is 22% higher than the $4.1M earned by 2014’s Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. War for the Planet of the Apes also beat the $3.7M accumulated by Warner Bros./Legendary’s Kong: Skull Island on its Thursday night preview.

Dawn continued on to make a $27.6M first day inclusive of previews and a $72.6M opening. While one set of tracking showed high $50Ms-to-low-$60M on War, some rival studios have been quite bullish predicting $70M-plus given the threequel’s great Rotten Tomatoes score of 94% certified fresh. Per Fandango yesterday, War is outselling both Star Trek Beyond and Dawn at the same point in their advance ticket sales cycle.

War, produced by Chernin Entertainment and financed by Fox, The Seelig Group and Bona Films, expands to 4,022 theaters today including PLF and 4DX. The estimated production cost on War is $150M before P&A which is 12% cheaper than Dawn. 

The only other foe that War has this weekend is Sony/Marvel’s Spider-Man: Homecoming which many are expecting to rank second with $50M-$53M, -55% to -57%. Yesterday, Homecoming earned $8.9M taking its first week’s total to $163M. That figure is 10% behind the first week haul of Sony’s top opener Spider-Man 3 which cleared $182M in week one and ultimately finaled at the domestic B.O. with $336.5M.

Broad Green

Also opening this weekend is Broad Green’s PG-13 horror title Wish Upon which is looking at single digits. The pic, directed by John R. Leonetti, cost before P&A an estimated $12M. It made $376K at 1,650 locations last night.

Also, Amazon Studios/Lionsgate’s The Big Sick expands from 326 locations to 2,597 this weekend. Exhibitors project that the Judd Apatow produced comedy can generate $9M-$11M.