Fox’s simian sequel, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, beat its chest during its Thursday night box bow, crushing the late night numbers put up by its predecessor and setting the stage for a monstrous opening weekend.
2011’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes rode a similar wave of positive buzz from critics and bowed to $1.3 million during its opening Thursday night showings. With exposure and acceptance of the Apes reboot franchise much higher today than three years ago, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes put up $4.1 million during Thursday 10pm and midnight showings.
On one hand the big $3 million bump in late night business is fantastic news for Fox. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes meeting or exceeding the first film will all but guarantee the promising franchise continues.
On the other, this summer’s big blockbusters like Godzilla and Transformers: Age of Extinction put up more than double the amount of Rise on their respective opening nights. Fox was hoping moving Rise up from August to July would boost it into another league of summer blockbuster. It definitely got a boost, but not quite into the same league as the real big boys.
Rise of the Planet of the Apes used word-of-mouth momentum its opening weekend to reach $54 million. Current Dawn of the Planet of the Apes tracking points toward an opening weekend in the neighborhood of $55 to $60 million, but I have a sneaking suspicion that moviegoers are hungry for some intelligence and heart in their summer entertainment after Michael Bay’s latest Transformers and will push Rise closer to $60+ million through Sunday. Anything less than $55 million will throw up red flags in Hollywood after this past July 4th holiday weekend turned into a dud.
To compare, Warner Bros. opened Pacific Rim this same weekend a year ago. It reached $3.6 million on Thursday night, then fizzled out through the weekend to only $37.3 million. Don’t expect Rise to fall that low, but there are arguments both ways that it could either under or over perform this weekend.
Read our Dawn of the Planet of the Apes review.