Apes Smite Smurfs to Top Box Office
By John Hamann
August 7, 2011
Rise of the Planet of the Apes was made for $93 million, $7 million less than the Burton monstrosity cost in 2001. It was made by 20th Century Fox and Chernin Entertainment, and should be huge overseas as well. Burton's Apes earned a few million more overseas than it did in the US, and has some decent international names like Freida Pinto, David Hewlett, and Brian Cox involved. Reviews were stellar for Rise, which suprises me to no end. At Rotten Tomatoes, Rise is certified fresh at 80%, with 116 positive reviews out of a possible 145. Heavy August volume carries few blockbusters, so with these strong notices and an A- Cinemascore, Rise could see some decent legs going forward, and a new, strong franchise born.
For James Franco, Rise of the Planet of the Apes comes at a much needed time. Despite the Oscar nomination for 127 Hours (which tanked at the box office with only $18.3 million), Franco has always seemed to be on the periphery of the strong leading actors list. Known mostly for being Peter Parker's friend/nemesis in three Spider-Man flicks, Franco has never broken out on his own. The Pineapple Express was always a Seth Rogen vehicle, Milk is remembered as a Sean Penn starrer, Your Highness flopped with only $21 million, and the Oscar show he hosted was one of the worst ever (and not only because Inception lost to The King's Speech). He has a number of smaller films coming up, but in 2013 he will be out in theatres in Sam Raimi's Oz: The Great and Powerful, which certainly looks interesting.
Finishing second is The Smurfs, and if you are like me, you will be happy that The Smurfs got hacked down to regular size this weekend after a super-sized opening in the last frame. Following that strange duel with Cowboys and Aliens last weekend, where it was first a tie, and then a win for Cowboys, The Smurfs took in $21 million and dropped 40% this frame. The Smurfs won handily over the previous weekdays, taking in almost $20 million. With this weekend's take, I have The Smurfs finishing with about $120 million, if the film can improve on the weekend drops. The Smurfs cost Sony $110 million to make, so they will need a showing overseas as well to keep this one profitable at a healthy level. Give those damn Smurfs $76.2 million so far.
Third is Cowboys and Aliens, and unless overseas grosses are eventually huge, this one is in big trouble. The Daniel Craig/Harrison Ford starrer took in only $15.7 million this weekend, as it dropped 57% versus its $36.4 million opening in the last frame. That's hurtful not only for momentum, but is also likely the grade on word-of-mouth for this Universal product. Don't forget, it somehow cost $163 million to get this one to the big screen, a number it will never see from domestic cinemas. Cowboys and Aliens will be extremely lucky to earn $100 million stateside, so Universal will have to keep its fingers crossed for overseas success. The Jon Favreau letdown has taken in $67.4 million to date.