Rise of the Planet of the Apes could not be stopped by a quartet of new arrivals at the North American box office. It narrowly beat The Help, but easily rose above 30 Minutes or Less, Final Destination 5 and Glee: Live 3D. The Simian hit helped lead a top ten that was approximately four percent higher than last year at this time.
The latest chapter in the 42-year old Planet of the Apes franchise showed fairly strong legs in its second round as it dropped 49% from last weekend’s big debut of $54.8 million. Strong critical notices helped open the movie last weekend and that all-important viewer word-of-mouth keep things going from that point on. Earning a solid $27.5 million on 3,691 screens in its sophomore session, Rise of the Planet of the Apes has earned $104.8 million thus far and could be looking at $150-160 million -if not more- by the end of its run. Overseas, the film has earned $43 million in sales as of last Thursday.
While Rise may have stayed put at number one, it almost abdicated the throne to the number two film in North America, Disney/Dreamworks’ big screen adaptation of the popular novel The Help. Debuting this past Wednesday on 2,511 screens (where it earned $9.8 million in its first two days) prior to expanding Friday to 2,534 screens (where it earned a terrific $25.7 million), The Help has earned a great $35.3 million to date. Had it debuted on Friday, the film would have easily taken the number one spot away from Rise of the Planet of the Apes. The movie version of the Kathryn Stockett novel was written and directed by Tate Taylor and stars Emma Stone, Viola Davis, Bryce Dallas Howard, Octavia Spencer and Jessica Chastain.
Despite comments about the glossing over of racial themes, critics liked what they saw in bestowing it with a 73% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The largely female audience was even more enamored, rewarding the movie with an “A+” CinemaScore rating. Should word-of-mouth prove to be as strong as the CinemaScore rating indicates, The Help should be requiring little-to-no help crossing the $100 million mark en route to becoming one of the bigger late summer hits.
Two films touting 3D became the latest examples of how the gimmick is not the savior Hollywood was hoping it would be. The horror sequel Final Destination 5 landed in third place with a so-so $18.4 million from 3,155 theaters. The latest chapter of teens cheating death opened well below the $27.4 million earned by that release and even below the third installment released in 2006. The diminished box office take for the latest chapter in the 11-year old franchise may be a sign that while it is not dead (no pun intended) like the Scream franchise, it certainly is losing its appeal. Reviews were mixed with the movie earning a 56% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Given that this is the fifth movie in a horror film franchise, 56% is actually not all that bad.
The other multi-dimension release this weekend was Fox’s Glee Live: 3D, which couldn’t even make its way into the top ten. A quick cash grab orchestrated by the studio and the television show’s creator Ryan Murphy, the show’s fans were quick to realize that for the amount they would pay to see the film in theaters, they could own a copy on DVD or Blu-ray for about the same amount (if less) in a few short months. Another alarming sign that few were interested in paying to see something they could see on TV for free was that the movie dropped a steep 37% on Saturday, which translates into toxic word of mouth (or a fan base that really isn’t all that big to begin with). Arriving on 2,040 screens, Glee Live earned a tone-deaf $5.7 million in its first three days and will be lucky to make it past the $15 million mark.
The fourth wide release for the weekend, Sony’s 30 Minutes or Less, was not in 3D but like Destination and Glee, it met with moviegoer apathy. In its first three days of release, the action comedy pulled a flat $13 million from 2,888 theaters. Reviewers dismissed the latest film from Zombieland director Ruben Fleisher to the tune of a 44% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Despite the somewhat aggressive marketing campaign by Sony over the past few weeks, audiences did the same by finding something else to do with their time and money. The film, which eerily echoes a real-life scenario from a few years ago where a pizza deliveryman met his death by having a bomb attached to him, stars Jesse Eisenberg, Aziz Ansari, Danny McBride and Michael Pena.
Sony found solace in the continuing success of its live-action/animated hit The Smurfs. The late summer family flick held well in fourth place, adding another $13.5 million to its overall total which now stands at $101.5 million (I guess you can fool people most of the time). Papa Smurf and his crew should Smurf their way to a domestic finish of approximately $130 million. If you think the current domestic tally is impressive for this film, check out the overseas haul: $141 million so far. That’s a big pile of Smurf, no two ways around it.
The remainder of the top ten was as follows:
6) Cowboys and Aliens (Universal) $7.6 million (-56% from last weekend). $81.7 million total.
7) Captain America: the First Avenger (Paramount/Marvel) $7.125 million (-45%) $156.8 million.
8) Crazy, Stupid Love (Warner Brothers) $6.9 million (-42%) $55.4 million.
9) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II (Warner Brothers) $6.8 million (-45%) $357 million.
10) The Change –Up (Universal) $6.2 million (-54%) $25.7 million.
Next weekend, another quartet of flicks arrive on the already crowded movie scene: the remakes of Conan the Barbarian and Fright Night, the romantic flick One Day and the kiddie flick Spy Kids 4.
– Shawn Fitzgerald