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‘Dawn of Planet of the Apes’ Conquering U.S. Box Office with $62 Million to $70 Million Opening Weekend

Moviegoers appear to be going bananas for Fox’s “The Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”: Friday estimates indicate the opening weekend at the U.S. box office could reach $70 million.

Studio trackers calculated that opening-day business would range from $24 million to $27.8 million, including $4.1 million from late Thursday night showings. Projections for the three days range from $62 million to $70 million — slightly better than forecasts earlier in the week.

The uptick for the tentpole, which carries a $170 million pricetag, may stem from a warm embrace by critics, with Rotten Tomatoes reporting a 91% freshness rating.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” produced by Chernin Entertainment and starring Andy Serkis, Jason Clarke and Gary Oldman, should easily top the $54.8 million opening frame of its predecessor, “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” in 2011.

“Rise” became a surprise success with $176 million domestically and over $300 million overseas — which has helped fuel moviegoers’ enthusiasm for “Dawn,” which pits human survivors of a global pandemic against genetically evolved apes in a dystopian San Francisco.

With “Rise” appearing to be a near-surefire success, rival studios opted to let the sequel go unchallenged with any other new wide releases. The closest competition will come from Paramount’s third weekend of “Transformers: Age of Extinction,” which took in between $3.9 million and $4.8 million Friday for a drop ranging from 55% to 63%.

The fourth “Transformers” looks to finish the weekend at between $12.8 million and $15.7 million. The giant-robot pic will become the sixth title of 2014 to cross the $200 million mark, joining “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” “The Lego Movie,” “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” “Maleficent” and “The Amazing Spider-Man 2.”

Despite the solid performances of the fourth “Transformers” and the latter three titles, summer is down roughly 20% from last year. And most analysts expect more of the same compared with the same period last year, when “Grown Ups 2″ and “Pacific Rim” opened and “Despicable Me 2” continued to perform well.

New Line’s second weekend of “Tammy” is due to fall as much as 62%, with Friday estimates in the $2.5 million to $3.1 million range — projecting $8.2 million to $10 million for the three days and a U.S. total of $52 million to $54 million.

Relativity’s second weekend of “Earth to Echo” is projected to finish fourth as it draws between $4.7 million and $5.7 million for a cume in the $24 million range.

The fifth weekend of Fox’s “How to Train Your Dragon 2” should follow in the $4.2 million to $5.1 million range — enough to boost the U.S. total to $150 million.

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