‘War for the Planet of the Apes’ Charges to $5 Million at Thursday Previews

The final installment of Fox’s reboot “Apes” trilogy is projected for a $55-60 million opening

“War for the Planet of the Apes” opened on Thursday to $5 million from 3,251 preview screens, giving Fox and Chernin Entertainment the highest preview numbers for their “Planet of the Apes” reboot trilogy based on the classic 1968 sci-fi film.

By comparison, the film’s 2014 predecessor, “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” made $4.1 million from Thursday previews en route to a $72 million opening. That film was preceded in 2011 by “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” which made $1.7 million at previews en route to a $54.6 million start. Entering the weekend, “War for the Planet of the Apes” was projected for an opening closer to “Rise” than to “Dawn,” with independent and studio projections pegging the threequel for a $55-60 million bow.

“War for the Planet of the Apes” completes the tale of Caesar (Andy Serkis), the ape that leads his fellow sentient primates into a world where they have replaced humans as the dominant species. Forced to reluctantly lead his people into war against the humans after the events of the last film, the battle hits home for Caesar when his mate and child are killed by a raid led by a rogue colonel (Woody Harrelson). With the help of longtime companions Maurice and Rocket (Karin Konoval and Terry Notary), a hermit chimp named Bad Ape (Steve Zahn), and a mute human war orphan nicknamed Nova (Amiah Miller), Caesar embarks on a quest to defeat the colonel as the conflict between humans and apes reaches its climax.

“War for the Planet of the Apes” is directed by Matt Reeves, who co-wrote the script with Mark Bomback. Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver, who wrote the first two installments of the reboot trilogy, produced the film with Peter Chernin and Dylan Clark. The film has received critical acclaim with a 93 percent Rotten Tomatoes score, the highest score given on the site to any “Planet of the Apes” film.

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Also releasing this weekend is Broad Green’s horror film “Wish Upon,” which stars Joey King as a teenager who discovers a box that grants the bearer any wish he or she desires, but at a grisly cost. The film is projected for a $8-10 million opening, with a release on approximately 2,250 screens. John R. Leonetti directed the film from a screenplay by Barbara Marshall, with Sherryl Clark as producer.

Finally, there is Amazon/Lionsgate’s “The Big Sick,” which is getting a wide release on 2,597 screens after a limited run that earned the film $8 million from 326 screens. The film stars Kumail Nanjiani as a dramatized version of himself and recounts how he met his wife, Emily (played by Zoey Kazan), with whom he co-wrote the film. Directed by Michael Showalter and produced by Judd Apatowand Barry Mendel, the film was bought by Amazon Studios at Sundance for $12 million, with Lionsgate later joining as co-distributor. It has a 97 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes.