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October 30, 2014
Monday, July 21, 2014

Planet of the Apes outmuscles The Purge at box office

A scene from The Purge: Anarchy.
By Jake Coyle
AP Film Writer (*)

NEW YORK — The summer box office continued to lack mojo, as the R-rated Sex Tape failed to turn on moviegoers on a weekend where Dawn of the Planet of the Apes maintained its rule.

20th Century Fox’s science fiction sequel outmuscled a trio of new films to top the North American box office for the second-straight week with US$36 million, according to studio estimates yesterday. The acclaimed sequel to 2011’s reboot of the chimp franchise has now made US$139 million domestically in two weeks.

Its closest completion over the weekend was the home-invasion horror thriller The Purge: Anarchy, written and directed by James DeMoncaco. Universal’s low-budget sequel to last year’s surprise hit, The Purge, opened with US$28.4 million, down from the US$34.1 million the original scared up on opening weekend.

Nikki Rocco, head of distribution for Universal, though, noted the stronger competition this time around and the overall “depressed” business at movie theatres. Weekend revenue was down 24 percent from the same weekend last year, continuing a cold summer for Hollywood that’s more than 20 percent off the pace of the summer of 2013.

But Anarchy, which imagines an America where all crime is legal for 12 hours every year, was made for only US$9 million, making it immediately profitable for Universal. Such success is the envy of most movies, particularly Sony’s Sex Tape, a starrier, more expensive release that opened with US$15 million.

The Jason Segel, Cameron Diaz R-rated comedy failed to turn on moviegoers or critics. Sex Tape, in which a married couple makes a pornographic home video to stoke the flames of their lagging sex life, came in fourth place behind Disney’s Planes: Fire & Rescue. The animated sequel to 2013’s Cars-offshoot, Planes, opened with US$18 million.

“It was kind of a middling weekend unless you were the top film,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for box-office tracker Rentrak. Dergarabedian looks ahead optimistically to upcoming releases Lucy, starring Scarlett Johansson, and the Marvel space film Guardians of the Galaxy, of which he noted: “A lot of pressure is being put on that movie. It may be the last big summer blockbuster.”

But as July turns to August, Hollywood’s summer is certain to be a down one.

In a limited release of 68 theatres, Zach Braff’s crowd-funded Wish I Was Here also arrived with a tiny weekend opening of US$495,000 for Focus Features. The film, Braff’s directorial follow-up to 2004’s Garden State, was much criticized for depending on fan contributions for funding. Wish I Was Here will expand to more theatres next week, but it is sure to fall far short of the US$26.8 million Garden State earned.

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