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Weekend Box Office: Dawn Holds Off Anarchy, Sex Tape Flaccid

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By Chris Kavan - 07/20/14 at 10:22 PM CT

For only the second time this summer, we had a repeat champ at the top of the box office. But despite all three new films opening in the top five, there isn't going to be a lot of cheer as most performed below expectations. Once again, the week-to-week average compared to last year was down - 26% compared to last year - and that puts July (so far) trailing 2013 by a full 30%. There is hope that the month will at least go out a bit stronger, but for now, we'll just have to wait things out, as this weekend, despite a few shining spots, isn't much to shout about.

1) DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES

It has been one and done for most blockbusters this summer, but thanks to great reviews, strong word-of-mouth and lack of competition, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes took the top spot again. Dawn took in $36 million, raising it's total to $139 million. The film dropped off 50.4% - and compared to every other major film this summer (including X-Men: Days of Future Past, Transformers: Age of Extinction and Amazing Spider-Man 2) that's a fantastic hold - as all the previously mentioned films dropped at least 61% (or more). With that kind of response, Apes should continue to have a strong run - and it's looking to top off at around the $230 million mark - well above its $170 million budget and easily topping Rise of the Planet of the Apes $176.7 million. That's good news for the franchise and I have a feeling it's not going to take as long to get some more apes on the screen.

2) THE PURGE: ANARCHY

Leading the charge for the new wide releases this week was the horror sequel, The Purge: Anarchy at $28.4 million. The film opened a bit lower than The Purge ($34.1 million) but that's not actually a bad hold considering the original film dropped like a rock after the premise failed to deliver on the story side of things. This time around, the story took place on the outside - out in the open - to finally give the audience what they want. As it stands, the audience (52% female and 61% under 25) gave it a "B" Cinemascore - which is an improvement over the dismal "C" the original Purge garnered. Given this response, the sequel could very well match (or even surpass) the $64.5 million the original film ended up making. The best news for Anarchy, however, is that the horror film also has a tiny $9 million budget - meaning it's already a money-maker and anything it adds is gravy at this point.

3) PLANES: FIRE & RESCUE

The second sequel to make the list this week is Planes: Fire & Rescue - but the news wasn't so good this time around. Once again, family audiences are proving a bit more saavy as the film took in $18 million - off 19% from the $22 million that the original Planes brought in. Given that movie was supposed to be a straight-to-DVD spinoff of Cars, I was surprised by how good it turned out. But maybe audiences realized that maybe this sequel should have gone that route - it also couldn't match Turbo's $21.3 debut. The audience was fully 42% under 12 - and those that did show up gave it an "A" Cinemascore. The lack of any other family films at the box office should mean that Planes will have a decent run, but given its somewhat lackluster opening, it's likely to wind up around $70 million. The saving grace is that this sequel is also low-cost (for an animated summer film) at just $50 million, so it's likely to at least break even - but whether that warrants yet another visit to this universe remains to be seen.

4) SEX TAPE

Given the success of other R-rated films this year, Sex Tape had a lot going for it - a good cast, a solid premise - but it was missing the crucial element: connecting with the audience. Because the marketing effort missed the target - Sex Tape opened to a limp $15 million. That is lower than co-star Cameron Diaz's The Other Woman ($24.8 million) and less than half of what Bad Teacher opened with ($31.6 million). More concerning is that is opened under the disappointing A Million Ways to Die in the West ($16.8 million) and barely topped Adam Sandler's Blended ($14.3 million). The critics were harsh (20% on Rotten Tomatoes) and audiences weren't much more forgiving, with a "C+" Cinemascore, Sex Tape should drop off the radar quickly - and likely will top out at just $45 million (if it's lucky).

5) TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION

The blockbuster sequel is well on its way to becoming the highest-grossing summer 2014 film. Adding another $10 million to the coffers (off about 39% from last weekend), Age of Extinction now sits at $227.1 million. It should be only a few more days before it tops both Maleficent and X-Men: Days of Future Past and, given its steam, is still looking to top off at $250 million+ - and could give Captain America and The Lego Movie a run for their money as the top-grossing movie of the year (overall). It has knocked it out of the park internationally (currently sitting at $659.1 million - 17th all time), so why no do the same thing in the domestic market?

Outside the top five: No major milestones reached this week, but Richard Linklater's Boyhood continued to post impressive numbers in limited release. Adding 28 theaters (for a total of 33) - the film brought in $1.2 million -for a stellar $36,303 per-theater average (jumping 209% - from 19th to 15th place in the process). The critically-lauded film has taken in $1.84 million and is going to continue to expand in the coming weeks. As always, we'll see if general audiences give it as warm a welcome as the limited-release crowd.

Next week has three films vying for the box office crown: Dwayne Johnson buffs up to take on the iconic role of Hercules, Scarlett Johansson is taking sexy back (and kicking ass) as the genetically-modified Lucy and Rob Reiner rolls out his latest (starring Diane Keaton and Michael Douglas) in And So It Goes. Reiner has been on the decline so it's going to be a slug fest between beauty and the buff beast at the box office.

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