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Can ‘War For The Planet Of The Apes’ March On Summer’s U.S. Box Office Drought? Global Outlook Near $120M

Deadline logo Deadline 7/12/2017 Anthony D'Alessandro
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UPDATED with foreign analysis: Even with Sony/Marvel’s Spider-Man:Homecoming‘s $117 million opening resuscitating the domestic marketplace last week with a 22% weekend-to-weekend jump in overall ticket sales to $207.1M, this summer stateside still lags 9% behind last year. 20th Century Fox’s War For The Planet Of The Apes is hoping to prevent a further landslide with an opening in the high-$50Ms to low-$60Ms at 4,021 venues. However, with a 93% Certified Fresh Rotten Tomatoes score, there are some rival distributors out there who believe Apes can rip up those estimates and beat its chest to a $70M-plus start.

Fox has embraced the groundswell of critical praise and leveraged that intensity across Apes‘s TV spots.

Overseas, War For The Planet Of The Apes goes into battle in about a third of the marketplace, taking time to roll out through mid-August in many cases. Significant hubs welcoming Caesar this frame are the UK, Russia, Spain and Italy. That leaves a lot of play ahead, and per industry sources War is headed to a $50M-$60M foreign debut with the potential to go higher if the smaller Asian markets over-perform as they have on recent tentpoles. Total worldwide opening estimates resides between $107M-$120M.

War for the Planet of the Apes easily should beat the domestic opening of its first title in the rebooted trilogy, 2011’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes ($54.8M), and the question remains if it will outstrip its previous chapter, 2014’s Dawn of the Planet of the Apes ($72.6M). Those titles logged final U.S./Canada totals of $176.8M and $208.5M, respectively. The estimated $150M net production cost on War is 12% cheaper than Dawn, with the latter title after $710.6M worldwide ticket sales clearing a $182.1M profit after all global home entertainment and TV streams.

Apes opens at 7 PM Thursday in 3,000-plus locations before going wide Friday and will have the lion’s share of premium large-format auditoriums. The threequel directed by Matt Reeves and produced by Chernin Entertainment is tracking close to being a four-quad movie,  with females trailing a bit in first choice.

War is a difficult one to comp offshore given the pattern and strategy are different this time around versus Dawn and Rise. Fox doesn’t have an extensive preview play given competition in the markets, notably from Homecoming as it swings into the sophomore frame. Conversely, in 2014, Dawn was facing Transformers: Age of Extinction which was in its 3rd frame after dropping in the 2nd.

Dawn made $31.3M in 26 markets at open, although they were a different mix that included Korea and Australia. Dawn outperformed Rise in many cases. This terrifically-reviewed threequel is expected to ultimately get up to the Dawn range which finaled at $502M internationally (non-restated), led by China, the UK, France, Korea and Mexico. Rise rose to $305M, also at historical rates, with the UK, China, Korea, France and Spain holding the Top 5 slots.

Notably not releasing this session along with Korea and Australia are Japan, France, Germany, Brazil and Mexico. China is not a definite yet, but War should see a release there given the fact that the other two movies played in the Middle Kingdom. With China’s summer blackout now in effect, War will likely snag a late August/early September date.

The cerebral series is unlike other summer popcorn fare and is not expected to be frontloaded abroad. A decision to let word of mouth do its job should also see these Apes leg out nicely.

In terms of overseas promotion, War‘s stars Andy Serkis and Woody Harrelson have been doing UK press and recently appeared on Graham Norton’s talk show together. Fox held a gala screening at the Ham Yard Hotel back in mid-June before heading down to Barcelona to get exhibitors excited with a full screening of the movie at CineEurope.

Back in the U.S. and Canada, Homecoming should keep concession sales churning for exhibitors with a second weekend estimated between $50M-$53M, down 55%-57%. The Marvel movie has been posting great daily business, with $27.4M alone made between Monday and Tuesday and a running five-day cume of $144.3M.

Broad Green, whose previous wide release was November’s Bad Santa 2, has the PG-13 $12M horror title Wish Upon, about a teenage girl who uncovers a box that brings about atrocities to those she wishes against. The pic was directed by John R. Leonetti and stars Joey King and Ryan Phillippe. Broad Green, which fully financed the pic, cut a very scary spot that has trailered on such female-skewing titles as Rough Night. No Rotten Tomatoes ratings are registered yet, and that’s not a good sign because the fates of horror titles today (like everything else) are driven by the review aggregator site. Broad Green is hoping for high single digits at 2,100 locations at the domestic B.O.. MGM has foreign sans South Korea.

In its fourth weekend, Amazon/Lionsgate’s The Big Sick is expanding wide stateside from 326 theaters to about 2,500.

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