‘Apes’ too much for ‘Spider-Man’ at box office

Move over, Spidey. This weekend’s box office belongs to the apes.

20th Century Fox’s “War for the Planet of the Apes” pulled in an estimated $56.5 million in the U.S. and Canada, good enough for first place in its debut weekend. It came in on the lower end of analyst projections of $55 million to $60 million.

“What sets this modern trilogy apart is that it’s not a gratuitous sequel,” said Chris Aronson, the studio’s distribution chief. “This is epic episodic storytelling.”

The latest addition to the franchise, which first sprouted its legs in the late 1960s, showcases the battle between apes and humans. It’s directed by Matt Reeves, who also headed 2014’s “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.” Much ado has been made about the film’s use of updated technology that enlivens Andy Serkis’ lead ape. But with Woody Harrelson’s addition to the franchise as the villain and Steve Zahn as Bad Ape, there’s much more to the tale than great visual effects.

Perhaps that’s why the picture has been well-reviewed by audiences and critics. Moviegoers (57 percent males; 63 percent 25 and older) gave it an A-minus Cinema-Score, and it has a 94 percent positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

The Chernin Entertainment-produced film, which cost $152 million to make, continues the recent trend of critical favorites bringing in big ticket sales.

“Spider-Man: Homecoming” from Sony fell to second place in its second week with $45.2 million. Although the 61 percent week-to-week drop is surely deeper than the studio had hoped for, the $175 million film has already brought in $208.3 million domestically to date.

Universal’s “Despicable Me 3” continues to hold strong, coming in third in its third week at $18.9 million for a domestic gross to date of $188 million. Worldwide, the animated flick tallies at $619.4 million.

“Baby Driver,” also in its third week, landed in fourth place with $8.8 million. The Sony movie has pulled in $73.2 million domestically.

Rounding out the top five was Amazon/Lionsgate’s small but mighty “The Big Sick.” The film, which was never pegged to expand to the more than 2,500 theaters, is in its fourth week and brought in $7.6 million over the weekend. Stellar reviews and word of mouth clued the studio in that the picture might be an effective chance for counterprogramming (Hollywood’s handy term for a film that isn’t like the others) and decided to distribute the movie to significantly more theaters.

“It’s amazing that this independent film has found its footing as a family movie among all the summer blockbusters,” said Bob Berney, Amazon’s head of marketing and distribution. “The comedy and universal themes are connecting with audiences across the country.”

“Sick,” directed by Michael Showalter, was written by Kumail Nanjiani and his wife, Emily Gordon, about their early courtship. Nanjiani stars as a version of himself, an aspiring comic, while Zoe Kazan plays Gordon in the Judd Apatow-produced romantic comedy.

The only other wide release over the weekend was Broad Green’s “Wish Upon.” The poorly reviewed (20 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, C CinemaScore) horror film starring Joey King, Ryan Phillippe and Ki Hong Lee pulled in $5.6 million.

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