Rise of the Planet of the Apes dominated this weekend, while the rest of the marketplace crowded together.

‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’ Smashes Expectations

on August 08, 2011 by Daniel Garris
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Fox's Rise of the Planet of the Apes opened with a far better than expected $54.81 million this weekend. Coming into the weekend, both pre-release expectations and online activity had been relatively soft for the franchise reboot. Making the opening weekend performance even sweeter for Fox was the fact that Rise of the Planet of Apes was produced for a reported $93 million, which is relatively inexpensive by event film standards. The film skewed towards male moviegoers (54 percent) and moviegoers over 25 (56 percent), but still had significant appeal with all four quadrants given those percentages.

Without taking into account ticket price inflation, Rise of the Planet of the Apes just edged out 2009's G.I. Joe: The Rise of the Cobra to register the fourth largest August debut of all time (behind only 2007's The Bourne Ultimatum, 2001's Rush Hour 2 and 2002's Signs). Even with ten years of ticket price inflation, Rise of the Planet of the Apes was unable to match the $68.53 million un-adjusted debut of 2001's Planet of the Apes (which now adjusts to a massive $96.67 million), but it was never expected to. However, with the aid of positive reviews, strong early word of mouth and an August schedule soft on surefire blockbusters, Rise of the Planet of the Apes has a very good chance of generating significantly stronger holding power than Planet of the Apes did.

Internationally, Rise of the Planets of the Apes was off to a solid $23.8 million start from 25 foreign markets. That places the film's worldwide start at $78.6 million. Unlike many of this summer's other tentpole releases, the film didn't open in most major territories the same weekend as its domestic launch. The three exceptions this weekend included $5.2 million in Russia, $5.1 million in Australia and $5.1 million in Spain. Next weekend the film will open in 15 additional markets, including the United Kingdom, Germany and France.

The Smurfs had a solid hold in its second weekend with a second place take of $20.70 million. The computer animated, live-action hybrid from Sony fell 42 percent from last weekend's stronger than expected debut. On Friday, The Smurfs was down significantly from last Friday, but the film picked up the pace nicely as the weekend went on. That signals that The Smurfs went from being driven in part by nostalgic fans of the television series last weekend to being driven largely by family audiences this weekend. The Smurfs has grossed a better than expected $75.90 million in ten days and should hold up well going forward thanks in part to a limited number of new choices for family audiences in the coming weeks.

On the international front, The Smurfs had a strong weekend by taking in $45.2 million. That places the film's international total at $52.7 million and worldwide total at $128.6 million.

The news was nowhere near as good for Universal this weekend, as its Cowboys & Aliens and The Change-Up delivered disappointing results in their respective first and second weekends. After opening on the low end of expectations last weekend, the expensive Cowboys & Aliens fell a sharp 57 percent this weekend to gross $15.73 million. Mixed word of mouth, natural front-loading and the added presence of Rise of the Planet of the Apes all took a toll on the film this weekend. With a ten-day start of $67.35 million, Cowboys & Aliens is currently running 7.5 percent behind the pace of 2009's District 9, which places it on course for a final domestic gross right in the neighborhood of $100 million.

The Change-Up failed to live up to its break-out potential in a big way with a very soft fourth place start of $13.53 million. The R-rated comedy starring Jason Bateman and Ryan Reynolds may have simply been one comedy too many for adult audiences this summer, but largely poor reviews didn't help matters either. On the fence audiences clearly chose Rise of the Planet of the Apes instead at the last minute; much in the same way Captain America strengthened at the last minute against Friends with Benefits a few weeks back. With a reported production budget of $52 million and typical summer marketing costs on top of that, The Change-Up was relatively expensive for a comedy to boot. The Change-Up skewed towards female moviegoers (59 percent) and was evenly split between moviegoers over 30 & 30 and under.

While it's now slowing down domestically, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II continues to roar internationally. The last chapter in Warner's fantasy franchise grossed $12.45 million domestically this weekend and a far stronger $63.1 million internationally (driven largely by a $26.5 million start in China). That places the film's international total at $792.4 million and worldwide total at $1.135 billion. That makes Deathly Hallows: Part II the highest grossing film of the year worldwide and the third largest grossing film ever worldwide, behind only 2009's Avatar and 1997's Titanic. The film's 24-day domestic total stands at $343.09 million, leaving it just $1.16 million away from overtaking Transformers: Dark of the Moon to become the year's highest grossing domestic release.

Also having presences within this weekend's crowded domestic marketplace were Paramount's Captain America: The First Avenger and Warner's Crazy, Stupid, Love. Captain America fell 49 percent to take fifth place with $13.02 million, while Crazy, Stupid Love fell a healthy 37 percent to place in seventh with $12.02 million. Captain America has grossed $143.20 million in 17 days and Crazy, Stupid, Love has grossed $42.10 million in ten days. With four new wide releases on the slate for this week, the marketplace is about to become even more crowded.

Additional reporting by Phil Contrino.

Follow @DanielBOXOFFICE on Twitter for additional box office updates.

Tags: The Smurfs, Rise of the Planet of the Apes
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