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Weekend Box Office: 'Apes' Rise With Massive $54 Million, Audiences Rise Against Ryan Reynolds

by Gabe Toro
August 7, 2011 4:33 AM
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The Planet Of The Apes” saga is one of the healthier franchises in movie history. All the sequels occurred within a reasonable time frame, and while they were of varied quality, each one had their own separate reason to exist, and none were truly embarrassing. By comparison, the remake in 2001 was so far removed from the series’ original ethos that most won’t even acknowledge it as part of any continuity. Nevertheless, that atrocity opened to $68 million, which nears $100 million when adjusted for inflation. So while some may have been burned by the series thanks to Tim Burton, ten years might have been the appropriate time to reboot and still retain a base that remains aware of “The Planet of The Apes” as a sketchy form of “cinema history.”

Besides that, there isn’t a whole lot of precedence for a big budget prequel to a forty-three year old movie breaking the bank, particularly considering the film’s development. From a distance, “Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes” looked like more Fox blockbuster dead weight. They had drastically reworked a well-liked script by Scott Frank, changed titles and release dates, and completed a quick shoot with a cast that felt less like an ensemble and more like a Who’s Available casting sheet. Regardless, Andy Serkis and the effects team became the star, and the CGI-assisted ape violence in ads helped generate a spectacular $54 million opening.

Where does Fox go from here? Even with Burton’s “Apes” revival scoring off-the-charts numbers, the public perception was so negative that it jettisoned plans for another go-round. This adventure benefits not only from a much lower cost than that debacle, but from very strong word-of-mouth and critic notices. Then again, it could be a very specific fan base -- the Burton version fell a then-spectacular 60% in its second weekend. There's no sequel development that's been made public, though you have to wonder if Fox is considering further adventures of Caesar, considering industry projections pegged this weekend as possibly being $15 million lower. As for star James Franco, you can bet this weekend enables hundreds more avant-garde art projects from the multi-hyphenate.

Landing in second was "The Smurfs," which lost the battle for the top last weekend but still held far better than main competitor "Cowboys And Aliens." "Smurfs" was a bit more front-loaded than the usual kiddie fare with a somewhat weaker hold, but "Aliens" was a disaster, an Area 51-level drop putting the film's total at a feeble $67 million after two weekends. The Jon Favreau genre mash-up could hold up over the next few weeks (the rest of August looks like a slightly-beefier April, to be honest), but nobody is pleased with these results thus far. Meanwhile, "Smurfs" has clear sailing to a stronger-than-$100 million final tally, with massive ancillary profits to come. Both were slightly youth-centric films, but "Cowboys And Aliens" stars Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford might as well be geriatrics going up against those cute, cuddly CGI critters. Kids don't want to see old people (cue: "Death Of Modern Masculinity In American Cinema" thesis) and they especially don't want to see them riding horses in the Old West. If only this had cost half as much, it would be a tremendous win.

Consider this the summer Hollywood's booming voice asked, "Citizens, is Ryan Reynolds a movie star?" The response looks like a negative, with "The Change-Up" registering as his second straight huge flop after "Green Lantern" could barely cross $150 million worldwide. As the fifth R-rated summer comedy thus far, this gross is about half of what "Bridesmaids" opened with, and that was the weakest first session of a group that includes "Bad Teacher," "Horrible Bosses," "The Hangover Part II" and "Friends With Benefits." Universal spent a heavy chunk of change producing and promoting this film, praising it as a completely in-house venture and a re-teaming of the people behind "The Wedding Crashers" and "The Hangover," ignoring the fact that so many people were involved with those films that alchemy basically made them hits.

What went wrong with "The Change-Up"? Despite two good-looking leads, there was no crossover potential to women given that the trailer relied heavily on the shock that women had bowel movements. The leading man issue also stands out, as Reynolds success thus far has been with female audiences, making his presence in a male-driven affair dubious at best. And Jason Bateman's Q-rating post-"Arrested Development" is a testament to his ubiquity more than his taste in projects or general audience support, as his only non-ensemble starring roles were in "The Switch" and "Extract," which audiences ignored. Maybe it was the body-swapping idea, which tends to pass muster with only teen and tween audiences. Maybe it was the generic title, which made it sound like it was a baseball movie. The print and billboard ads didn't help, with Reynolds smiling like a jackass while fondling barely-clad women. Audiences don't want to see their leading characters having TOO much fun.

"Captain America: The First Avenger" continues to keep pace with "Thor." With 2013 bringing "Thor 2" and "Iron Man 3" however, they may not be any more room in the Marvel stable in the near future for another Cap adventure, at least unless they want to launch newer solo characters. It stays ahead of "Harry Potter," which is slated to become the year's biggest domestic earner by tomorrow, though it's already the largest global 2011 release thus far. "Crazy Stupid Love" registered the strongest weekend-to-weekend hold of any release in the top ten. But with "The Help" and "One Day" coming in the next few weeks, the marketplace will be slightly crowded for adult fare, but as long as they didn't blow the budget on school assembly rooms, backyards and Ryan Gosling's washboard abs, they'll be fine.

"Friends With Benefits" is now officially the "Volcano" to "No Strings Attached"'s "Dante's Peak." Smooth, Screen Gems. The R-rated comedy is just barely keeping ahead of "Horrible Bosses," which crossed $100 million this week. Both continue to keep "Transformers" at bay. As we all should. As we all should.

In indie releases, "Sarah's Key" registered a muscular third weekend gross of $532k for The Weinstein Company. Last weekend's big releases continued to perform, with "The Guard" at $194k at nineteen locations, while "Attack The Block" stayed at only eight engagements, collecting $78k. The week's biggest opening per-screen was "Bellflower," which collected $24k on two screens, with a much larger expansion in the works. Collecting $58k, but on seven screens, was "The Whistleblower," while "Gun Hill Road" landed at $38k at three locations, and the five hour "Mysteries Of Lisbon" grossed $11.5k at two locations. Support your local arthouse theater, boys and girls.

1. High Rise Of The Planet of The Apes (Fox) - $54 million
2. The Smurfs (Sony) - $21 million ($76 mil. domestic)
3. Cowboys And Aliens Living Together, Mass Hysteria (Universal) - $15.7 million ($67 mil. domestic)
4. Two Nearly Identical Caucasian Males Switch Places (Universal) - $13.5 million
5. Captain America: The Avengers Issue 0 (Paramount) - $13 million ($143 mil. domestic)
6. Harry Potter Fights That Noseless Dude Again (Warner Bros.) - $12.2 million ($343 million domestic)
7. Crazy Stupid Love (Warner Bros.) - $12.1 million ($42 mil. domestic)
8. Friends With Benefits Attached (Sony/Screen Gems) - $4.7 million ($48 mil. domestic)
9. Inferior Employers (Warner Bros.) - $4.6 million ($105 mil. domestic)
10. Transformers: You Encouraged Them (Paramount) - $3 million ($344 mil.)

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  • rvm | August 8, 2011 12:42 PMReply

    "The print and billboard ads didn’t help, with Reynolds smiling like a jackass while fondling barely-clad women. Audiences don’t want to see their leading characters having TOO much fun."

    over-analyzing much?

  • Christopher Bell | August 8, 2011 10:00 AMReply


    I'm not surprised it's under-performing. It's awful and most of the people I actually talk to about it either agree or deem it "ok." Not getting the super-positive take from critics at all.

  • Glass | August 8, 2011 4:32 AMReply

    It's true, rvm.

    "3. Cowboys And Aliens Living Together, Mass Hysteria"

    God, perfect.

  • padre | August 8, 2011 3:26 AMReply

    I was all set to post a big rah rah on Young Hercules' victory hold, then Redcup had to go and completely cut me off at the knees. Yeah well, the victory is still true IN SPIRIT if not in actual deed.

    And the Change Up was never going to work with two guys who look and feel so much alike. The ads look more like some Morman dude leading a double life than two different dudes. One of them needed to be a small Asian woman or something. And mark my words, this will not be the end of Ryan Reynolds! The young leading man landscape is a bleak Sahara. Hollywood has no choice but to give these guys much more opportunity and rope than previous generations of men got. There is no choice.

  • mary | August 7, 2011 12:49 PMReply

    Surprised to see that Fox Searchlight's “Another Earth” continues underperforming; and the film clearly will not gross higher than Sony Pictures Classics' "Moon". ( It may proves again that Sony Pictures Classics is better at releasing some kinds of films than many other distributors.)

    I am worried that it may lead Fox Searchlight to drop out from “The East” (Brit Marling’s upcoming sci-fi project). If it happens, I would recommend Sony Pictures Classics and Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions to finance “The East”; they will be able to make good profit, like that they did with “Moon”.

  • Gabe Toro | August 7, 2011 11:53 AMReply

    Touche, redcup. Though I was speaking purely anecdotally regarding The Change-Up. Ask how many of those women enjoy it and if they recommend it!
    As for the Horrible Bosses number, I was working off estimates and forgot to re-edit. D'oh.

  • Fred | August 7, 2011 10:33 AMReply

    "(cue: “Death Of Modern Masculinity In American Cinema” thesis)"
    I'd love to rise to the challenge (no pun intended) but I'm just on the way out to a special sneak preview of 'Killer Elite' where they're reportedly giving out a set of character-etched lawn darts to the first 20 in line.

  • jj | August 7, 2011 9:34 AMReply

    redcup pwnd you. :D

  • redcup | August 7, 2011 9:02 AMReply

    "“Crazy Stupid Love” registered the strongest weekend-to-weekend hold of any release in the top ten."

    Crazy, Stupid, Love. WB $12,100,000 -36.7%
    Horrible Bosses WB (NL) $4,620,000 -35.7%

  • redcup | August 7, 2011 9:00 AMReply

    "What went wrong with “The Change-Up”? Despite two good-looking leads, there was no crossover potential to women given that the trailer relied heavily on the shock that women had bowel movements. "

    "Distributor Universal Pictures' research showed that 59 percent of Change-Up's audience was female"

  • nah brah | August 7, 2011 7:11 AMReply

    All the sequels weren't good.

  • Gigi Young | August 7, 2011 6:49 AMReply

    To be honest, is Ryan Reynolds really a star, or just an actor who happened to luck out with The Proposal (a Sandra Bullock rom-com)?

    He's been around for a while, headlining movies like Blade: Trinity and National Lampoon's Van Wilder, and remaining in the public eye with his semi-high-profile relationships (Alanis & Scarlett), but his "A-List" status just seems to be something Hollywood has cooked up because there aren't very many young leading men behind Will, Brad, Denzel, George, et al--who, incidentally, still pack the cineplex. I see the same thing happening with actresses like Blake Lively or Emma Stone--a lot of the leading ladies from the '90s and '00s are still going strong in the '10s.

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