War for the Planet of the Apes is coming in a bit lower than its predecessor, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, in early box office tracking. The third film in the rebooted Planet of the Apes franchise (directed by Matt Reeves) has been enjoying fantastic early reviews, with a current Rotten Tomatoes score of 96 percent (previous films in the series were also well received by critics with the initial Rise of the Planet of the Apes garnering 81 percent and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes clocking in at 91 percent). Andy Serkis' performance as Caesar, the ape who leads the fight against humanity, has been hailed as an award-worthy landmark in motion capture performance.
While critical reaction is as strong as ever, it seems as if audiences might be tiring of the dystopian future of the Apes films. War for the Planet of the Apes is currently tracking for an estimated opening weekend somewhere between $55 million and $65 million. That's a noticeable drop off from Dawn of the Planet of the Apes' $72.6 million opening, and could be an early sign of a franchise stalling out.
The report comes from Variety, and further signals what a tough summer this has been for big-budget franchise blockbusters. Both Pirates of the Caribbean and Transformers have underperformed in comparison to their predecessors.
Still, this is a surprising development for Planet of the Apes. While both Pirates of the Caribbean and Transformers are aging franchises delivering their fifth installments, all indications are that Planet of the Apes is still in its creative prime with its third installment.
A likely culprit for the film's lower-than-expected box office prospects could actually have very little to do with the film itself. Its biggest obstacle to financial success is likely Spider-Man: Homecoming, which debuts the week before and is destined to dominate the box office. Superheroes have been the one genre largely immune to franchise fatigue this year, and Spidey's dominance could end up blunting Apes' prospects.
Luckily for director Matt Reeves, his next film is unlikely to have any such financial concerns. Once he's done promoting War for the Planet of the Apes, Reeves will begin work on The Batman, Ben Affleck's first solo outing as the Dark Knight. While fans are understandably excited for a new Batman film, it would be nice if Reeves could wrap up his acclaimed run on the Apes films with a box office success.
War for the Planet of the Apes opens in theaters on July 15, 2017.
- War for the Planet of the Apes (2017) release date: Jul 14, 2017