Rise of the Planet of the Apes Enjoys Nearly $20 Million Opening Day Debut

Fox’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes proved moviegoers still want to get their damn dirty hands on those decades-old intellectually advanced simians.

Caesar, his furry friends, and human counterparts James Franco, John Lithgow, Freida Pinto, Brian Cox, Tom Felton and David Oyelowo trampled all expectations in securing $19.7 million in ticket sales on Friday at the North American box office, $1.25 million of which came from midnight screenings. Estimates revised upward less than 24 hours ago suggested the Apes sequel would score somewhere between $12 and $14 million its opening day. Those proved to be grossly inaccurate.

Thanks to the boffo Friday opening, Rise of the Planet of the Apes is now on pace to bag $50 million or more its opening weekend. Just a week ago, Fox and industry insiders were thinking along the lines of a $25 to $30 million opening tops. Not too shabby for the prequel/reboot everyone wrote off as unnecessary the day it was formally announced.

Right now momentum is on the side of Caesar, Fox and Rise of the Planet of the Apes. The film, produced for an estimated $93 million, has been collecting rave reviews from critics over the past several days. It’s certified fresh as Rotten Tomatoes with a solid 80% score, and its CinemaScore is a sharp “A-“. Word-of-mouth is strong driving many to see the film this weekend who a week ago had no intention of even considering it.

Many, myself included, are already calling for Andy Serkis to be nominated for a Best Actor Academy Award for his motion-capture portrayal of Caesar. The final rendered character may be all CGI, but all the movements and mannerisms are 100 percent Serkis. The Academy doesn’t acknowledge motion-capture performances for Best Actor or Actress, but maybe Rise of the Planet of the Apes will force them to rethink that stance.

Should Rise of the Planet of the Apes surpass $50 million its opening weekend and avoid a disastrous drop in its second weekend, which it should given strong word of mouth-and-momentum, then Fox might consider pushing forward with a foreshadowed sequel sooner rather than later.

Stop back Sunday afternoon for the complete weekend box office results based off studio estimates and see where Rise of the Planet of the Apes, The Change-Up, and all the holdovers ended up.

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