NEW YORK -- The monkey business is a good business to be in at the box office.

"Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" roared to $73 million on its opening weekend, one of the summer's best debuts. The 20th Century Fox sequel easily surpassed the $54.8 million opening to 2011's "Rise of the Planet of the Apes," the reboot of the fabled chimp franchise.

In a summer heavy on hype but thin on quality, "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" has proven to be one of the few hits that combined both spectacle and substance. Directed by Matt Reeves ("Cloverfield"), the 3-D "Dawn" has drawn enthusiasm from critics and moviegoers alike, particularly for the motion-capture performance by Andy Serkis as the film's lead ape, Caesar.

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.

"If every summer movie had this kind of release, that would be amazing," said Paul Dergar-
abedian, senior media analyst for box-office tracker Rentrak, praising the film's intelligence, entertainment value and marketing. "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. Its three-week domestic total is now $209 million for Paramount. The Melissa McCarthy comedy "Tammy" came in third with $12.9 million.


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Though bad reviews have dampened the response to McCarthy's latest, the relatively low-budget release has made $57.4 million for Warner Bros. in two weeks.