The apes have conquered the multiplex.
Fueled by great word of mouth, 20th Century Fox's Rise of the Planet of the Apes opened to $54 million at the domestic box office—$20 million more than the best forecast.
Rise of the Apes is particularly drawing notice for its photo-realistic apes, which were created by Peter Jackson’s Weta Digital using advanced performance capture technology. Andy Serkis plays the ape Caesar, and is the movie’s lead character.
Directed by Rupert Wyatt, Rise of the Apes successfully relaunches the cult sci-fi franchise, and is a big win for the filmmakers and Fox’s marketing operation. Heading into the weekend, tracking suggested that the movie—also starring James Franco, Frida Pinto and John Lithgow--would open to $30 million to $35 million, tops.
But the movie received an A- CinemaScore, in addition to garnering rave reviews, and is appealing to all age groups. More women than expected turned out, making up 44 percent of the audience, according to exit polls. The origins pic was down only 2% from Friday to Saturday.
Rise of the Apes also is a big win for Peter Chernin and Dylan Clark’s Chernin Entertainment, since it’s the company’s first title.
The movie, made for $93 million, was co-financed by Fox, Dune Entertainment and Ingenious.
The weekend's other new offering, Universal's R-rated Ryan Reynolds-Jason Bateman body switching comedy The Change-Up, didn’t fare as well, grossing a soft $13.5 million and coming in No. 4.
Directed by David Dobkins, Change-Up entered a saturated market for raunchy comedies, and scored the lowest opening of the summer for its genre. The movie only received a B CinemaScore, and played older, with 50% of the audience over the age of 30.
Universal and Relativity Media co-financed Change-Up, which cost $52 million to produce.
Sony’s surprise hit The Smurfs stayed strong in its second weekend, declining less than 42% to an estimated $21 million for a domestic cume of $76.2 million. The 3D kids pic placed No. 2.
Universal and DreamWorks’ Cowboys & Aliens continued to struggle in its second outing, trailing Smurfs and grossing $15.8 million for a domestic total of $67.4 million. The movie fell 57%, a big drop considering the film is playing best to an older audience. Adult-skewing films generally build momentum, and see minimal drops if they are working.