20th Century Fox breathed a sigh of relief as its great summer hope Planet Of The Apes opened to out-of-this-world box office results, taking an estimated $69.56m over the Friday to Sunday weekend which is the second highest opening, the highest non-sequel opening and the highest non-holiday weekend opening of all time. On Friday alone, the film took $25.1m, a record for a Friday, although second to the Wednesday opening day total of Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace in 1999 of $28.5m.
The Tim Burton-directed film which was only screened to press this week was one of the most eagerly awaited films of the year. Reviews were mixed, comparing it unfavourably with the classic 1968 original of which it is a re-imagining. But that didn't stop audiences, and it should be a huge worldwide performer as it quickly rolls out across the world in the next four weeks.
Only one film - The Lost World: Jurassic Park - has opened with a higher three day gross - some $72.1m from May 23-25, 1997. Together with the Monday May 26 Memorial Day weekend holiday, it ended up with a four-day take of $90.2m. Planet Of The Apes steps in above The Mummy Returns which took $68.1m earlier this year.
Its closest competition, Jurassic Park III fell some 56% to take $22.5m while Revolution/Columbia's America's Sweethearts fell 48% to take $15.7m. Two films - Jurassic Park III and Dr Dolittle 2 crossed the $100m barrier, bringing the year's total to nine after Hannibal, Spy Kids, The Mummy Returns, Shrek, Pearl Harbor, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and The Fast And The Furious.
For Eddie Murphy, Dr Dolittle 2 marks the seventh film in which he is the star to top $100m, placing him in the very top echelons of US stars alongside Tom Hanks (nine), Tom Cruise (eight) and Julia Roberts (eight). The Murphy $100m hits hits are Beverly Hills Cop, Coming To America, Beverly Hills Cop II, The Nutty Professor, Dr Dolittle, Nutty Professor II: The Klumps and Dr Dolittle 2. That doesn't include animated $100m hits Shrek and Mulan to which he leant his voice.
Meanwhile the next fortnight should see the big business continue as heavily marketed pictures Rush Hour 2, American Pie 2 and Osmosis Jones hit the market.
ESTIMATED TOP TEN US JULY 27-29
Film (Distributor)/International distribution/Estimated weekend gross/Estimated total to date
1 (-) Planet Of The Apes (20th Century Fox) Fox International $69.56m --
2 (1) Jurassic Park III (Universal) UIP $22.5m $124.8m
3 (2) America's Sweethearts (Columbia) Revolution/Columbia TriStar $15.7m $59.4m
4 (3) Legally Blonde (MGM) 20th Century Fox $9m $59.8m
5 (4) The Score (Paramount) Mandalay/UIP $7.1m $49.2m
6 (5) Cats And Dogs (Warner Bros) Warner Bros $4.5m $81.5m
7 (8) Dr Dolittle 2 (20th Century Fox) Fox International $4.2m $100.7m
8 (6) The Fast And The Furious (Universal) UIP $3.8m $132.2m
9 (7) Scary Movie 2 (Dimension) Miramax International $2.6m $67m
10 (11) Shrek (DreamWorks) UIP $1.7m $255.5m