Audiences Go Bananas over Apes!

094593H1.jpgTwentieth Century Fox’s latest re-boot of The Planet of the Apes franchise is neither a sequel nor a prequel but it does have the built in brand recognition from the original series of films spawned from the 1968 sci-fi classic starring Charlton Heston.  Rise of the Planet of the Apes featuring James Franco is a fresh interpretation of the original series of films and has no connection to Fox’s 2001 Planet of the Apes re-boot which starred Mark Wahlberg.  There was no monkeying around with these apes as they climbed to the top of the chart with a much bigger-than-expected $54 million this weekend.  The film was also a hit internationally earning $23.4 million in just 25 markets and took first place in 9 of 11 markets (where rankings are available).  The film expands in 15 new markets next weekend.

Sony Pictures Animation’s The Smurfs in 3-D nearly made some cantankerous cowboys very blue last weekend when they rustled up an unexpected tie for first place with Cowboys & Aliens.  When the dust settled the little blue dudes landed in a close second place finish for the weekend, but led the midweek box office race and now have a higher North American gross than their high profile competitor.  A very strong 41% second weekend hold gives the film $21 million for Friday through Sunday and a domestic gross of over $75 million.  In just 10 days the film has generated $128.9 million worldwide with $52.7 million from the overseas markets.

The Universal/DreamWorks co-production of Cowboys & Aliens took the number one spot last weekend after a fierce battle against the tenacious Smurfs, but landed in third place with $15.7 million in this, its second weekend.  Directed by Jon Favreau and boasting an impressive talent roster both in front of and behind the camera, the film will finish the weekend with around $67 million.

The sixth R-rated comedy to hit theaters this summer and the second starring the ubiquitous Jason Bateman, Universal’s The Change-Up co-starring Ryan Reynolds puts a new spin on an old twist with a debut gross of $13.5 million.  From Freaky Friday to 17 Again and countless films in between, this time the formula gets the R-rated treatment and The Change-Up capitalized on solid date crowd appeal this weekend.

Fifth place played host to three potential contenders with Paramount’s Captain America: The First Avenger coming out on top with $13 million.  Warner Bros.’ Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 and PG-13 rated comedy Crazy, Stupid, Love. were close behind with $12.2 million and $12.1 million respectively.  

Good news for the industry with a solid month of up-trending box office that puts the summer-to-date revenue advantage 4.39% ahead of last year and attendance up by just over 2%. 

Specialized film spotlight:  After premiering at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, the critical favorite Bellflower (Dist. by Oscilloscope Films) had its theatrical debut this weekend on 2 screens and performed well with a solid $28,000 for the weekend (including many sold-out shows).  The film was also a hit at SXSW back in March and has gotten rave reviews from every major news outlet with each praising its innovative storytelling, unique visual style and terrific performances from the up and coming cast.  Be sure to check out Bellflower directed by Evan Glodell as it expands to over 500 theaters through August and into September.  I spoke with one of the producers and stars of the film Vincent Grashaw this morning and he seemed thrilled with the results and is looking forward to the expanded release of the film in the coming weeks.

Weekend Box-Office

Top Movies – For Weekend of August 5, 2011 (estimates)

    Movie     Weekend Gross     Total to Date

1     Rise of the Planet of the Apes (PG13)     $54.0M     $54.0M

2     The Smurfs (PG)     $21.0M     $76.2M

3     Cowboys & Aliens (NR)     $15.7M     $67.4M

4     The Change-Up (R)     $13.5M     $13.5M

5     Captain America: The First Avenger (PG-13)     $13.0M     $143.2M