Box Office: Will “Apes” own “Spider-Man?”

The third and supposedly final film in the latest “Planet of the Apes” franchise is expected, by Fox, the producing studio, to turn out $50 million in ticket sales its opening weekend.

That would probably open it in second place, after “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” which will lose at least half its opening weekend turnout and still come in over $50 million, according to projections. It’s made big bucks all this week (over $9 million Wed.).

But “Apes” is enjoying the sort of breathless reviews that only asthmatic critics can deliver — “best movie of the summer” hype. It, too, is an established franchise. It’s not Marvel, but it’s got a big audience in its corner of science fiction.

boxBox Office Mojo figures it’ll win the weekend with a $70 million take, nowhere near as heady as the comic book adaptations of summer.

Box Office Guru is figuring this darker, downbeat “War for the Planet of the Apes” will do only about what the studio is projecting — around $53 million or so, which could make it finish in a dead heat with “Spider-Man.”

Bragging rights are not what this is about. A film built to blow up the box office for two weeks that doesn’t open #1 gets tainted in the audience’s perceptions, and that dampens box office. So not opening #1 would cripple the film all through its run, even if it holds more audience, by percentage over time, than “Spider-Man.” is saying that based on Thursday night’s numbers, the $50-60 million range for “Apes” is the safest bet, over $115 million worldwide. “Spider-Man: Homecoming” did $117 just in the U.S. on its opening weekend.

If “Apes” opens at just $50, the “loser” or “over-rated” perception (not based on reality and quality) will settle in. If it opens over $60, and “Spider-Man” swoons into the $40-50 million range, the “forgotten before it hits Netflix” perception sinks in. And either scenario could happen.

The angry comments when you’re among the first to pan a hyped summer popcorn picture follow this pattern. Outraged and numerous for the week leading up to opening night, a few remaining annoyed comments after they’ve seen the film and still disagree. OR radio silence when viewers are calming down into, “Yeah, he’s got a point. Meh.” I’m getting a little of that vibe from “Homecoming,” with a sense that everybody who desperately wanted to see it and NEEDS for it to be the best thing ever, have bought their one and only ticket to it. And the heat is just not there for “Apes.”

I have no skin in this game, except for wishing a small shock to the studio system to break the endless cycle of sequels, re-boots and comic book fare. It’s been a desultory summer for those of us who want more to chew on than spandex tights, digital effects and rehashed sequels/reboots.

With “Valerian” and Christopher Nolan’s “Dunkirk” on the way, there will be a lot of chiseling away of audience share next week and through the end of July. The stakes are high. Neither of those films has “Number One at the Box Office” prospects, but they could deflate the two big films of July.

Will audiences render unto Caesar? Or is Peter Parker sitting prettier? We’ll know within hours.

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