'Dawn of the Planet of the Apes' Sees Strong Friday for $65M-Plus Debut.

by Pamela McClintock

The sequel is pacing well ahead of "Rise of the Planet of the Apes," which debuted to $54.8 million in August 2011; Richard Linklater's "Boyhood" soars at the specialty box office.

Fox's sequel Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is doing impressive business at the Friday box office, where it's on track to earn $25 million or more for the day for a pleasing weekend debut of $65 million-plus.

The critically acclaimed sequel is pacing well ahead of Rise of the Planet of the Apes, which bowed to $54.8 million in August 2011. Thursday night, Dawn took in $4.1 million as it began rolling out in select theaters, compared to $1.3 million for Rise.

Directed by Matt Reeves, the sequel features Andy Serkis returning in the role of Caesar the ape, who has decamped to the forest of Marin County with hundreds of other genetically evolved apes and primates. When they are threatened by a band of humans who have survived a worldwide plague, a fierce divide erupts regarding whether peace can be restored, or whether war is the only way to determine who will emerge as Earth's dominant species. Peter Chernin's Chernin Entertainment developed and produced both Apes movies. The sequel, financed by Fox at an estimated $170 million, opens three years after origin movie Rise of the Planet of the Apes reinvigorated the iconic franchise. That film, directed by Rupert Wyatt, took in a strong $481.8 million at the worldwide box office, including $176.8 million in North America.

This time out, Gary Oldman, Jason Clarke, Keri Russell, Toby Kebbell, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Enrique Murciano and Kirk Acevedo are featured in the human cast. Reeves directed from a script by Mark Bomback, Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver, based on the characters created by Jaffa and Silver. VIDEOS Most Anticipated Summer Blockbusters of 2014 As with Rise of the Planet of the Apes, the sequel is drawing widespread praise for its use of motion capture. It's also being released in 3D. Hollywood is hopeful the weekend will restore some balance to the domestic box office, where Fourth of July weekend revenue was down a steep 44 percent from last year, leading to a summer revenue decline of nearly 20 percent. Overseas, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes begins its initial assault, rolling out in 28 territories, including major markets Australia and South Korea. The tentpole is waiting to roll out in many larger markets because of the bottleneck created by the World Cup. PHOTOS Simian Cinema: The Best and Worst Movies Featuring Monkeys and Apes The specialty box office is also making headlines Friday thanks to the debut of Richard Linklater's high-profile indie drama Boyhood, for which he won the best directing award at the 2014 Berlin Film Festival following the film's world premiere at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. Boyhood, starring Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke and Ellar Coltrane, was shot intermittently over a 12-year period in order to chronicle the story of boy as he grows up in a divorced household. IFC Films is opening the movie in five theaters in New York and Los Angeles. The movie, drawing rave reviews, boasts a matinee screen average of roughly $9,500.

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