Apes film gets big box office debut
Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes has roared to a 73 million dollar (£42.6 million) weekend opening at the US box office, according to studio estimates.
The 20th Century Fox sequel easily surpassed the 54.8 million dollar (£32 million) opening of 2011's Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes, the reboot of the fabled chimp franchise.
Directed by Matt Reeves, the 3D movie has drawn enthusiasm from critics and moviegoers alike, particularly for the motion-capture performance by Andy Serkis as the film's lead ape, Caesar. In the film, Caesar's tribe suspiciously encounters a colony of surviving humans on a planet overrun by intelligent apes.
"When you get the kind of reviews we got and the audience actually agrees, it's the kind of rare thing where critics and audiences come together and say this is a great movie," said Chris Aronson, head of distribution at Fox.
A sequel to be directed by Reeves is already in the works to further extend the franchise that first began with 1968's Planet Of The Apes, based on Pierre Boulle's French novel. Four movies followed in the 1970s, as well as a failed 2001 reboot by Tim Burton.
But Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes will easily dwarf previous instalments. It added 31.1 million dollars (£18.1 million) overseas from 26 markets, for a global opening gross of 104.1 million dollars (£60.8 million).
"If every summer movie had this kind of release, that would be amazing," said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for box-office tracker Rentrak, praising the film's intelligence and entertainment value. "It combines all the elements of what a smart summer film should be."
After two weeks on top, the Michael Bay action sequel Transformers: Age Of Extinction slid to second with 16.5 million dollars (£9.6 million). Its three-week North American total is now 209 million dollars (£122 million) for Paramount. The Melissa McCarthy comedy Tammy came in third with 12.9 million dollars (£7.5 million). Though bad reviews have dampened the response to McCarthy's latest, the relatively low-budget release has made 57.4 million dollars (£33.5 million) for Warner Bros in two weeks.