LOS ANGELES — Euphoric reviews did not translate to blockbuster ticket sales for “War for the Planet of the Apes,” which collected $56.5 million at North American theaters over the weekend, or 22 percent less than initial results for its 2014 series predecessor.
Directed by Matt Reeves, “War for the Planet of the Apes” may have struggled to convince moviegoers that it offered something fresh. The studio’s marketing images (monkeys on horseback with machine guns) were similar to ones used for the last installment, “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.” By this point in the series (three films in six years), moviegoers have most likely grown more blasé about the hyper-realistic visual effects upon which this franchise relies.
In many ways, “War for the Planet of the Apes” is a moody art film. Trailers played up the combat scenes, but the film actually has relatively little action, at least by summer “tent pole” standards. Whether the disconnect had an effect on word-of-mouth is anyone’s guess.
“I think critics and audiences were exactly aligned — this is not a gratuitous sequel,” Chris Aronson, 20th Century Fox’s president of domestic distribution, said by phone on Sunday. “What sets ‘Apes’ apart from any other franchise is its linear storytelling — it’s truly episodic.” He noted that ticket buyers gave the film an A-minus in CinemaScore exit polls.
Aronson added that he expected “War for the Planet of the Apes” to have “amazingly strong” ticket sales in the weekends ahead. He pointed to “Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation,” which arrived to $55.5 million in ticket sales in July 2015 and went on to collect $195 million in North America. The third movie in any series will face significant challenges, Aronson said, “but I think we overcame.”
“War for the Planet of the Apes,” produced by Chernin Entertainment, took in an additional $46 million overseas. It cost Fox roughly $150 million to make, not including global marketing costs.
For the weekend in North America, “Spider-Man: Homecoming” (Sony) was second, taking in an estimated $45.2 million, for a two-week domestic total of $208.3 million, according to comScore, which compiles box-office data. “Despicable Me 3” (Universal) chugged away in third place, collecting $18.9 million for a three-week total of about $188 million.
Also of note: The indie comedy “The Big Sick” (Lionsgate) sold about $7.6 million in tickets in its first weekend of wide release, for a four-week total of roughly $16 million. And “Wonder Woman” (Warner Bros.) continues to grip audiences, collecting $6.9 million, for a seven-week domestic total of $380.7 million; it will soon pass “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2,” one of the biggest movies in Warner Bros.’ history.