Weekend Box Office: Those Damn Dirty Apes Rise to the Number One Spot

Despite the franchise having been absent from the big screen since Tim Burton’s poorly-reviewed ‘Planet of the Apes‘ reboot more than a decade ago, the 43-year-old movie series returned to the big screen with a strong opening weekend. Generously positive reviews and word-of-mouth are to blame for the success of this mediocre prequel about the apes’ origins.

Not that anything else this weekend deserved the top spot more, but ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes‘ grossed $54 million at 3,648 locations. Considering that the studio only predicted ‘Rise’ to open between $30 to $35 million, those “damn dirty apes” cleaned up pretty well.

To make up for the well-known outcome of the prequel-ish tale, ‘Rise’ attempts to tell an emotional story to keep its audience’s attention. Unfortunately, the shallow characters and superficial, manipulative emotional content never carry any true weight. For the life of me, I cannot understand why ‘Rise’ has been so well reviewed and successful. The movie doesn’t do anything fresh or creative, the story and special effects are purely mediocre, and the entire film is given away in the trailers. Nothing happens in the movie that you don’t already see coming.

Bringing an end to this summer’s high success rate for R-rated comedies is ‘The Change-Up,’ a crude body-swapping comedy starring Jason Bateman and Ryan Reynolds. ‘The Change-Up’ opened in fourth place with a measly $13.5 million.

Like I said in my review, ‘The Change-Up’ isn’t terrible, but it sure isn’t very good either. The tonal inconsistencies in its humor push the film back and forth from standard crude comedy to low-brow poop jokes. If given the option of seeing ‘The Change-Up’ or one of this summer’s other R-rated comedies, I’d pick just about any other (with the exception of ‘The Hangover Part II’).

Both Sundance indie flicks ‘Bellflower‘ and ‘Gun Hill Road‘ opened by earning at least $12,000 per screen. To give a little perspective to this figure, ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’ averaged $14,803 per screen.

Surprisingly, ‘The Smurfs‘ held onto its #2 spot and only dropped 41% in attendance. ‘Cowboys & Aliens‘, however, dropped 56.8%. ‘Cowboys & Aliens’ is just an okay movie, but it’s got to be better than ‘The Smurfs’. How ‘The Smurfs’ has a ten-day total almost $10 million higher than ‘Cowboys & Aliens’ is beyond me.

For the fourth consecutive weekend, ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2‘ has dominated the foreign box office. ‘Part 2’ has out-grossed ‘The Return of the King‘ to become the world’s third highest-grossing film of all time. Only ‘Avatar‘ and ‘Titanic’ still have it beat by 1.6 and .5 billion respectively. By Tuesday, ‘Part 2’ is expected to surpass ‘Transformers: Dark of the Moon’ to become the highest-grossing domestic film of 2011.

Top 10:

1. ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’ (Fox) – $54,000,000

2. ‘The Smurfs’ (Sony) – $21,000,000

3. ‘Cowboys & Aliens’ (Universal) – $15,748,000

4. ‘The Change-Up’ (Universal) – $13,502,000

5. ‘Captain America: The First Avenger’ (Paramount) – $13,000,000

6. ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2’ (Warner Bros.) – $12,160,000

7. ‘Crazy, Stupid, Love.’ (Warner Bros.) – $12,100,000

8. ‘Friends with Benefits’ (Screen Gems) – $4,700,000

9. ‘Horrible Bosses’ (Warner Bros./New Line) – $4,620,000

10. ‘Transformers: Dark of the Moon’ (Paramount/DreamWorks) – $3,015,000


  1. “Nothing happens in this movie that you don’t already see coming.” Well, that can be said for about 95% of anything playing in the theater at any given time of the year, can’t it.

    We GET IT Luke…you didn’t like the movie. But a lot of us (the majority of us, if reviews/audience repsonse is any indication) did…so please stop beating the dead horse…this is your third post trashing the film…and it hasn’t been out a week yet.

    • Trust me – I’m not trolling around looking to pick fights. I never say anything that cannot be backed up. This isn’t just a simple case of “I don’t like it, so you shouldn’t either.” I’m a critic and this is what I think.

      What I’m hoping for is for someone who loves it to explain to me what he/she loved about it so much. The positive reviews I’ve read all say the same indirect thing – “It’s really good. Serkis is great and the visual effects are amazing.” But there’s got to be more to it than that.

      Without trying to start a conflict on here, I’m simply asking, “What did you love about it so much? What makes this movie so great to you?” I don’t get it, but I want to. Believe me, I wanted to love this movie. I’m swayable, so there’s still a chance.

      • Jane Morgan

        Consider the review by Nordling, at AICN. Here’s the end summary…

        “In a way, ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’ plays out like a story handed down in a world where the apes are already the dominant species. Much of the film feels like a bedtime story an ape parent would share with their child.

        I held off writing this review because after I saw it I was so completely satisfied and happy with the film that I thought I was just overly gushing. The film couldn’t be that good, could it? But as the next couple of days passed, the film still stands tall in my mind.

        It’s not that the expectations were low enough to be pleasantly surprised – no, this is a genuinely great science fiction film, and I think the filmmakers, and WETA, especially, deserve the benefit of the doubt.

        ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’ stands tall and proud with the rest of the summer releases, and while many of those will be forgotten, RISE will be looked back fondly for years to come.

        Yes, it’s just that good.”

        • Jane Morgan

          Love of genre, and love of WETA, is overcoming all.

          How many other $100M science fiction films have been released in the last ten years?


    • Luek

      I totally agree, ever since the trailer came out It seems you’ve had it in your mind that your were not going to like this film no matter what.

      We all know that James Franco is going to act like someone whos high in all his films, you get past that. The film isnt about the humans, its about the apes and what is trully great about this film is that you do become emotionally involved with the apes, orangutans and gorillas… and at no point in the movie at all do you think to yourself that that ape looks fake.. unless you have the special powers that you have and can just see Andy Serkis whenever you look at a monkey… saying that is like saying whenever you watch 24hr party people all you can see is King Kong.

      I think you need to see it again, Luke, and see it for what it is. An amazing piece of science fiction done on an comparitively small budget. The reason it is popular in the mainstream is because it ticks all the right boxes for mainstream popularity especially the fact it has monkeys!

      And if we’ve learnt anything from Kevin Smith, its that people love monkeys :0P…. and its not in 3D.

      As for a sequel, they have left room for one, as you’ll notice throughout the movie a shuttle was sent out into space, containing humans and was lost in space.

      So msybe… If some of us are lucky, will get a completely new franchise.

  2. Everyone I went with enjoyed Apes.

    How did Smurfs make more than Cowboys VS Aliens?
    KIDS! Many families have more than one child. The 2 parents may go see Cowboys (2D). 2 parents and their 1-6 kids go see Smurfs, in 3D. Ka-Ching

  3. Jane Morgan

    Luke, to elevate your usefulness, you should learn to grade movies on a curve.

    The audience for ‘Rise’ was 46% female, which was much higher than projected.

    Whenever you’re confused about the success of “inferior” product, take off your film critic hat, and consider the phenomenon that is Romance Novels, which is the #1 most popular fiction genre, by an ungodly margin.

    Emotional manipulation. Generic predictable plots. Critic-proof.

    The majority of entertainment consumers care about Genre, more than they care about Excellence.

    This weekend was a huge win for Science Fiction. August for sci-fi is now open for business. Future movies will try to tap this audience. And some of them, if the stars align, will be sexy good.

    My guess is that Fox has already, internally, greenlit the sequel.

    Maybe you should put on your cheerleader skirt.

    • What is it that women saw in the trailers for this movie that was such a draw for them? Is James Franco really that studly?

      I think that by giving Captain America 5 stars, Luke already does grade on a curve. 🙂

  4. It seems to me that reboots are coming quicker and quicker after “failed” reboots. To wit:

    Planet of the Apes (original): 1969 – 1973
    (wait 18 years)
    Burton’s PotA: 2001
    (wait 10 years)
    Rise ot PotA: 2011

    Superman (original): 1978-1987
    (wait 19 years)
    Superman (B.Singer): 2006
    (wait 7 years or so)
    Man of Steel (Snyder): 2013

    Spider-Man (Rami): 2002 – 2007
    (wait 5 years)
    Amazing Spider-Man: 2012

    Harry Potter reboot starts shooting next week, just guessin’….

    • I wonder when they reboot “Lemony Snicket” … or rather, I wish they never stopped making the sequel. What an underrated gem.

    • Problem with that logic is that every one of the Harry Potter films was a HUGE success, the whole series is one of the biggest and most successful movie franchises of all time, sure some people had problems with their chosen films out of the pack, but overall everyone of them is liked by almost everybody, Harry Potter didnt turn into Spiderman 3, Harry Potter’s final film was probably the best of the whole series, all these reboots are being done after major fan and critic hatred and of course a majorly bad film

      Even though Spiderman 3 was very successful box office wise, its widely considered a completely shitty movie and it was time to go back to square one, from what I’ve seen and heard of the new Spiderman movie, it really sounds like they are going for a Batman Begins type reboot instead of another campy flick like Raimi did…Harry Potter will most likely never get redone