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Movies 30/07/2001

'Planet of the Apes' is No. 1

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LOS ANGELES (AP) - 'Planet of the Apes' emerged as the 800-pound gorilla at the weekend box office in North America, breaking several records in the process.
The simian saga, billed by director Tim Burton as a "re-imagination" of the 1968 sci-fi classic, opened at No. 1 with a three-day sum of $69.6 million since its Friday bow, according to studio estimates issued Sunday.
Reviews for the Twentieth Century Fox release were mixed, but moviegoers were attracted by a combination of the "Planet" franchise, Burton's edgy reputation and the burgeoning star power of headliner Mark Wahlberg, said Bruce Snyder, the studio's president of distribution.
Last weekend's box office champ, "Jurassic Park III," slipped to No. 2 with $22.5 million, followed by the Julia Roberts romantic comedy "America's Sweethearts" with $15.7 million.

If figures hold when final data are released Monday, the three-day tally for "Planet of the Apes" will rank as the biggest non-holiday opener ever, Snyder said. The old mark was $68.1 million, set last May by "The Mummy Returns." The overall three-day record is held by "The Lost World: Jurassic Park" with $72.1 million.
Snyder said his film's $25 million Friday take was the third best for a single day, after the $28 million Wednesday opening by "Star Wars: Episode I -- The Phantom Menace" in 1999 and the $26 million Sunday haul during the first weekend of "The Lost World" in 1997.

Additionally, "Planet" sets a new record for Burton, surpassing the $46 million opening for the 42-year-old director's "Batman Returns" in 1992. The opening is also good news for Fox, which has not had a big hit since "Cast Away" last December. Fox is a unit of Rupert Murdoch's Fox Entertainment Group Inc.
Wahlberg plays a U.S. Air Force astronaut who crash lands on a bizarro, futuristic world where sophisticated monkeys have the upper hand over base humans. Helena Bonham-Carter co-stars as an enlightened ape, and Tim Roth as their hairy nemesis.

"Jurassic Park III" (Universal) passed the century mark last Thursday, its ninth day of release. Its 12-day total now stands at $124.8 million. The film, which suffered a 56 percent drop in viewership thanks in part to the arrival of "Apes," should end up in the $175 million-$200 million area, said Nikki Rocco, Universal's distribution president.

"Dr. Dolittle 2," at No. 7, was expected to pass the $100 million mark Sunday, its 38th day of release. Fox's Eddie Murphy comedy pulled in an estimated $4.2 million over the weekend, taking its total to $100.8 million.
Overall ticket sales jumped for the second consecutive weekend. The top 12 movies grossed $143.4 million, up six percent from last weekend, and up 18 percent from the year-ago period when Murphy's "Nutty Professor II: The Klumps" opened at No. 1 with $42.5 million.

"Planet of the Apes" was this weekend's sole new wide release. New releases next weekend include the steamy Antonio Banderas/Angelina Jolie romance "Original Sin," the family comedy "The Princess Diaries" and the Jackie Chan/Chris Tucker cop comedy "Rush Hour 2."

"America's Sweethearts" (Columbia), which dropped 48 percent in its second weekend, has pulled in $59.4 million after 10 days, and has an "excellent chance" of reaching $100 million, said Jeff Blake, the studio's president of marketing and distribution. With the marketplace dominated by action films, Blake said "Sweethearts" would stand out as a romantic comedy alternative. Columbia Pictures is a unit of Sony Corp. Rounding out the top five were the Reese Witherspoon comedy "Legally Blonde" (MGM) with $9.0 million, and the Robert De Niro heist thriller "The Score" (Paramount) with $7.1 million, both down one spot in their third weekends. Their respective 17-day totals are $59.8 million and $49.2 million.

1 "Planet of the Apes," $69.6 million
2 "Jurassic Park III," $22.5 million
3 "America's Sweethearts," $15.7 million
4 "Legally Blonde," $9.0 million
5 "The Score," $7.1 million
6 "Cats & Dogs," $4.5 million
7 "Dr. Dolittle 2," $4.2 million
8 "The Fast and the Furious," $3.8 million
9 "Scary Movie 2," $2.6 million
10 "Shrek," $1.7 million

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