Dawn of the Planet of the

“The Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” has swung back into theaters and waged a full-blown war.

The sequel grossed $27.7 million Stateside on Friday as it eyes a $70 million opening weekend. If estimates hold, the pic will outperform its predecessor, “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” which launched to $54.8 million in 2011. The movie went on to surprise with $176.8 million Stateside and over $481.8 million worldwide.

Like “Rise,” “Dawn” has the added advantage of being critically acclaimed, earning 90% on Rotten Tomatoes.

The Fox tentpole, which cost $170 million, was directed by Matt Reeves and produced by Chernin Entertainment. Set a decade after “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” “Dawn” finds Andy Serkis’ Caesar less cuddly and more intelligent than his younger counterpart as he leads an ape uprising that threatens to dethrone man as the superior species.

The pic follows Gary Oldman, Keri Russell and Jason Clarke as survivors of a worldwide pandemic who are trying to make peace with the genetically evolved apes. Only motion capture maestro Serkis returns from the original cast.

Despite “Dawn’s” strong debut this weekend and “Transformers: Age of Extinction’s” impressive overall performance, the summer box office is still down almost 20% and will continue to fall behind last year’s record-breaking results fueled by “Despicable Me 2,” “Grown Ups 2” and “Pacific Rim.”

“Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” has no competition from a new release. Holdovers rounded out the very distant top five.

“Transformers: Age of Extinction,” earned about $5 million on Friday for a second place finish. Paramount’s cash cow of a franchise is headed north of $16 million in its third weekend, which would mark a 56% drop, raising its cume to almost $209 million.

Michael Bay’s blockbuster will become the sixth movie to cross $200 million this year, joining the ranks of “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” “The Lego Movie,” “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” “Maleficent” and “The Amazing Spider-Man 2.”

Melissa McCarthy’s “Tammy” made $4 million on Friday en route to a $13 million second frame. The New Line-Warner Bros. comedy will likely fall by 39% and have earned $57.5 million by Sunday.

The raunchy comedy “22 Jump Street” came in fourth with $2 million. It will reel in an estimated $6.2 million this weekend for a 37% decline. The Sony sequel stands to raise its total to $171.5 million.

Relativity’s “Earth to Echo” came in fifth with $1.8 million. It should bring in $5.7 million by Sunday, which would mean an impressive 28% decline and a $25 million haul.

Newcomer “Boyhood” cracked the top 20. Richard Linklater’s critical hit made $102,161 for a strong $20,432 per theater average from five locations in New York and Los Angeles. The IFC Films limited release, which was shot intermittently over a 12-year period, will likely earn about $350,000 in its debut weekend.

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