Apes knock Spider-Man out of No. 1 box office slot
Though some initially expected a closer race, "Spider-Man" dropped to second with $45.2 million after its $117 million debut last weekend. But director Matt Reeves' "War for the Planet of the Apes" pulled away thanks to strong reviews for the third installment of the rebooted "Apes" franchise.
Fox's "Apes" led something of a summer anomaly: There is an unusual confluence of acclaimed films in release. Five of the top six at the box office ("Apes," ''Homecoming," ''Baby Driver," ''The Big Sick" and "Wonder Woman") boast Rotten Tomatoes rankings of 92 or better, and the sixth ("Despicable Me 3") was largely received as a solid enough family release.
"What I think sets the 'Planet of the Apes,' these three films, apart from other franchise films, is that it's not gratuitous sequel-itis," said Chris Aronson, Fox's distribution chief. "This is storytelling, and it's episodic storytelling. It's not 'Well, let's put the band back together.' "
But there were also hints of franchise fatigue for the "Planet of the Apes" series. Reeves' latest edition came in closer to 2012's "Rise of the Planet of the Planet of the Apes," and well below the $72.6 million debut of 2014's "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes."
Aronson believes the good word-of-mouth will carry "War for the Planet of the Apes."
Universal's family sequel "Despicable Me 3" pulled in $18.9 million in its third week, bringing its cumulative total to $188 million domestically. Sony's Edgar Wright action comedy "Baby Driver" followed behind with $8.8 million; its three week gross is $73.2 million.
The weekend's other most notable new entrant was Kumail Nanjiani's acclaimed romantic comedy "The Big Sick," which expanded to about 2,600 theaters after three weeks of limited release. The Lionsgate-Amazon Studios film made $7.6 million — a rare success for a comedy in a summer full of disappointment .
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