By Tom Brueggemann | Thompson on Hollywood July 12, 2014 at 1:13PM
"Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" (20th Century Fox) received the best reviews of any studio film so far this summer ("The Lego Movie" remains tops for the year among wide releases) and moviegoers responded enthusiastically with a combined late Thursday and Friday $27.7 million total. Meanwhile, Richard Linklater's epic "Boyhood" (IFC) had the second best limited opening day of the year with $102,000 in 5 New York/Los Angeles theaters, boosted by literally the best reviews this century for any new release in the U.S.
For "Dawn," this is a decent uptick from the opening day $19.5 million for 2011's series reboot. It also constituted significantly more than half of the Friday Top 10 total ($46.5 million). That number is down more than 25% from last year, but at least it's an improvement over the anemic July 4th Friday total. The main problem is the lack of any other new film in the market. This is the second time over three weekends that the field was cleared for just a single film to debut. While this boosts that new entry, it also has a negative impact overall on the totals.
But it also helps other holdovers perform better, as shown by the rest of the films except one falling less than half from last Friday, several doing 60% or more of their last Friday's total. Paramount's "Transformers: Age of Extinction," which was #1 last week, at #2 now dropped about 55% but still will pass $200 million this weekend to go along with much higher worldwide totals.
Melissa McCarthy's "Tammy" managed to drop only about 40% to place #3 with $4 million. "22 Jump Street" actually climbed to #4 for the day at just over $2 million, only a 20% drop. Two family films (which might improve their positions with matinees for the full weekend) also held well. #5 "Earth to Echo" (Relativity) for now at least jumped over #6 "How to Train Your Dragon 2" (20th Century Fox), though the two for the day were virtually tied at about $1,750,000.
"Deliver Us from Evil" (Sony) at #7 also held better than most second week horror films, though at a bit under $1.6 million remains a weak performer. "Maleficent" (Buena Vista) takes #8 in its seventh week (and could rise for the weekend) as it continues to shine as the best holding film among the summer blockbusters.
The weakness of the overall Top 10 allowed Weinstein's "Begin Again" to place #9 with $824,000 with a big jump to just under 1,000 theaters. #10 goes to "Think Like a Man Too" (Sony) with $760,000, although for the weekend either "America" (Lionsgate) or "Jersey Boys" (Warner Bros.) might nudge it out.
"Boyhood"'s gross, impressive in itself, is even more so considering its length of a little under three hours. It isn't a record setter or close - "Grand Budapest Hotel" did more than triple the gross per screen its first day earlier this year, and "Blue Jasmine" last summer also was initially bigger. But both films (also well reviewed) were far more conventional upscale appeal films than this story of 12 years in the life of a Texas boy (filmed with the same cast over that period). These initial figures exceed the high end of expectations, and suggest the real potential for the film beyond just its critical acclaim and could position it, along with "Budapest," as a significant awards contender later this year.