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Weekend Predictions: Will Apes Rise Above the Competition?

August 4th, 2011

August begins with two wide releases, include one opening in well over 3,000 theaters, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and one that's just below the saturation level, The Change-Up. This time last year, the one-two punch came from The Other Guys and Step Up 3D, which combined to earn just over $51 million. There are some who think Rise of the Planet of the Apes will earn that much by itself. That's a little too bullish for me, but it does suggest 2011 should extend its winning streak over 2010 to four weeks.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a... I don't know. Is it a remake? A reboot? A prequel? Re-adaptation? It's definitely connected to Planet of the Apes films, even if just tangentially. It tells the story of how apes could rise up and overthrow mankind, which would make it a prequel, but the story here doesn't match the original movies or the book they were inspired by. The original The Planet of the Apes was lauded as one of the best of the genre; however, later installments in the franchise were not greeted as warmly. Additionally, the more recent Planet of the Apes remake only earned mixed reviews and fell apart after an incredible opening. (It had the second-biggest opening weekend for the year, but only the tenth biggest domestic tally.) Fortunately, a crash and burn like that is unlikely, as the reviews are closer to the very original film's reviews than to most of the sequels. The buzz is also growing with the potential to reach $50 million during its opening weekend increasing. It probably won't get there, but $46 million is still a strong opening weekend, and with no major releases for the rest of summer, that should be enough to get to $100 million with ease.

Speaking of $100 million, it appears The Smurfs is heading for that milestone. After six days of release, the film had amassed over $50 million, and assuming the film avoids a 50% drop-off at the box office, it will be on pace to reach the century mark. Despite the terrible reviews, falling less than 40% seems more likely than falling more than 50%. That gives the film a range about about $18 million to $21 million over the weekend, with just under $20 million the safest bet. It might take a couple more weeks to get to $100 million, but it should get there.

The second wide release of the week is The Change-Up, a film from the same writer as The Hangover. That film earned strong reviews and broke records at the box office for an R-rated comedy. This film's reviews are weaker than The Hangover 2's reviews were. I was expecting Change-Up would earn at least 50% positive reviews and open in the low- to mid-$20 million range. Better than average legs would take care of the rest. However, with weak reviews, a $19 million opening weekend is more likely, plus the legs likely won't be there.

Cowboys and Aliens' path to $100 million is less sure, even though it opened faster and earned better reviews. Because of the direct competition and the genre, a 50% drop-off is virtually guaranteed. In fact, a 60% drop-off is not unlikely. That gives us a range of $15 million to $18 million. I'm going with fourth place and $17 million, which might be enough to get it to $100 million, eventually.

Captain America: The First Avenger should round out the top five with about $12 million over the weekend and lift its running tally to $142 million, which is more than it reportedly cost to make. Granted, it still has to take into account the exhibitioners' share and the P&A budget, but with good international numbers, it should break even by its initial push onto the home market. (And that's before taking into account merchandising.)


Filed under: Weekend Preview, The Smurfs, Cowboys and Aliens, Captain America: The First Avenger, The Change-Up, Rise of the Planet of the Apes