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‘Apes’ remains top film for second weekend with $27.5 million

“Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” the prequel to the 1968 classic, remained the top movie in U.S. and Canadian theaters for a second weekend, with $27.5 million in ticket sales for News Corp.’s Twentieth Century Fox.

“The Help,” the civil rights-era drama from Walt Disney Co. and Steven Spielberg’s DreamWorks Studios SKG, was second with $25.5 million. “Final Destination 5” opened third with $18.4 million, researcher Hollywood.com Box-Office said today in an e-mailed statement.

“Rise of the Planets of the Apes” outdrew four new movies opening this weekend. The picture revives the franchise that began with the original film based on the Pierre Boulle novel about a world where the roles of apes and humans are reversed. Six previous films derived from Boulle’s concept have generated $691.3 million in domestic ticket sales, according to Box Office Mojo, another movie tracker.

“Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” featuring James Franco, is the first feature from Chernin Entertainment, led by former News Corp. President and Chief Operating Officer Peter Chernin. Chernin, 60, resigned from News Corp. in 2009 to open the movie and TV production company. The film has taken in $104.9 million in the U.S. and Canada since it opened Aug. 5.

In the film, a chimp used in drug tests is endowed with high intelligence. He leads a rebellion against harsh treatment in the lab, setting the stage for the role reversal of humans and apes explored in the original film. Franco plays a sympathetic scientist who treats the young chimp with kindness.

Tom Felton, who played Draco Malfoy in the “Harry Potter” films, co-stars as one of the chimp’s antagonists. The cast also includes Freida Pinto and John Lithgow. The effects-heavy movie cost about $90 million to make, according to the Internet Movie Database. The website Boxoffice.com had forecast $26 million in sales for the movie’s second weekend.

“The Help” stars Emma Stone as an aspiring journalist who writes about the experiences of black maids in racially segregated Mississippi. Set in the early 1960s, the film explores relations between middle-class white women and the blacks who worked in their homes.

Octavia Spencer and Viola Davis co-star as the black women who cope with mixed emotions caring for their employers’ white children while enduring thoughtless insults from the mothers.

The film has taken in $35.4 million since opening on Aug. 10.

In “Final Destination 5,” from Time Warner Inc.’s Warner Bros., a group of humans escape a bridge collapse only to be pursued by death. The first four films in the horror series took in $507.2 million in worldwide ticket sales, according to Box Office Mojo.

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