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July marches to monsters, but B.O. terrain is flat

'Jurassic' U is No. 1, 'Apes'-powered Fox is 2nd

HOLLYWOOD — Dinosaurs and apes ruled a July box office that matched last year’s billion-dollar frame, but fell to a five-year low in admissions.

Universal pegged the No. 1 spot for the month with $203 million, the dinos’ share earned by “Jurassic Park III.” “Planet of the Apes’ ” muscular opening helped Fox take second with $176 million.

July’s B.O. rang in at $1.02 billion, approximately matching last year’s frame, but admissions plunged to 182 million — the worst in five years, based on the current industry ticket price estimate of $5.60 a head — a price 3% higher than last year’s estimate.

Going ‘Ape’

But distribs and exhibitors aren’t complaining, according to Fox domestic distrib prexy Bruce Snider. “We’re getting congratulatory calls from exhibitors on the ‘Apes’ opening,” he said. Snider also said the biz is looking forward to good August numbers, with “Rush Hour 2” and “American Pie 2” on tap.

Dan Marks, exec veep of ACNielsen EDI, believes one reason for the flat July B.O. numbers are pics’ inability to sustain business. “Shrek” is the exception to this year’s slothful summer, boasting double-digit three-day grosses for six weekends in a row.

July’s top 10 grossers: “Jurassic Park III,” $125 million; WB/Village Roadshow’s “Cats & Dogs,” $82 million; WB’s “A.I. Artificial Intelligence,” $77 million; U’s “The Fast and the Furious,” $75 million; “The Planet of the Apes,” $68.5 million; Dimension’s “Scary Movie 2,” $67 million; Fox’s “Dr. Dolittle 2,” $66 million; MGM’s “Legally Blonde,” $60 million; Sony/Revolution’s “America’s Sweethearts,” $59 million; and Paramount-Mandalay’s “The Score,” $49 million.

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