‘Planet of the Apes’ Opens at Top With Sales of $54 Million

“Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” the prequel to the 1968 science-fiction classic, opened as the No. 1 movie in U.S. and Canada theaters this weekend, with $54 million in ticket sales for News Corp. (NWSA)’s Twentieth Century Fox.

“The Change-Up,” the only other film opening in wide release, was fourth in its debut, generating $13.5 million in sales for Comcast Corp. (CMCSA)’s Universal Pictures, researcher Hollywood.com Box-Office said today in an e-mailed statement.

“Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” featuring James Franco, is the fourth Fox picture to open in first place this year. It’s also the first film from Chernin Entertainment, the production company led by former News Corp. President and Chief Operating Officer Peter Chernin. Chernin, 60, resigned from News Corp. in 2009 to produce films and television shows.

“The success of `Planet of the Apes' is terrific and better than anyone expected,” Gitesh Pandya, chief executive officer of Boxofficeguru.com, said in an interview. “It’s a testament to the strength of a film that is solid and has good reviews.”

In the film, a chimp used in drug tests is endowed with high intelligence. He leads a rebellion against harsh treatment in the lab, setting the stage for the role reversal of humans and apes explored in the original film. Franco plays a sympathetic scientist who treats the young chimp with kindness.

‘Smurfs’ Hold Second

Tom Felton, who played Draco Malfoy in the “Harry Potter” films, co-stars as one of the chimp’s antagonists. The cast also includes Freida Pinto and John Lithgow. The effects-heavy movie cost about $90 million to make, according to the Internet Movie Database. The website Boxoffice.com forecast weekend sales of $39 million.

Last week’s second-place film, Sony Corp. (6758)’s “The Smurfs,” held its position with revenue of $21 million. Combining live action and computer effects, “The Smurfs” stars Neil Patrick Harris as a New Yorker who helps the tiny, blue creatures after they are forced from their village by an evil wizard. The movie has generated worldwide sales of $129 million in the 10 days since its release, Hollywood.com said.

The space-invader western “Cowboys & Aliens” fell to third from first with sales of $15.7 million. The film stars Daniel Craig as a gunslinger who joins with cowhands and Indians to resist an attack from another planet. The movie, produced by Steven Spielberg, was made for an estimated $163 million and has taken in $67.4 million in the U.S. since its Aug. 4 debut.

Raunchy Comedy Fades

In “The Change-Up,” Jason Bateman plays a harried father and husband who swaps bodies, and lifestyles, with his swinging, single buddy, played by Ryan Reynolds. Olivia Wilde and Alan Arkin co-star. The film was made for an estimated $52 million and was expected to take in $13.5 million, according to Boxofficemojo.com.

The movie’s “disappointing” opening can be attributed to bad reviews and competition from other R-rated comedies which opened this summer, Pandya said.

The raunchy brand of comedies offered by “Change-Up” is “a little late to the game” and there isn’t “a market for them anymore,” he said.

“Captain America: The First Avenger,” slipped to fifth from third with sales of $13 million for Viacom Inc. (VIA/B)’s Paramount Pictures.

Weekend revenue for the top 12 films rose 28.3 percent to $157 million from a year earlier, Hollywood.com said.

Domestic box-office sales this year have declined 4.8 percent to $6.7 billion, while attendance is down 5.7 percent.

The amounts below are based on actual ticket sales for Aug. 5-6 and estimates for today.

                       Rev.            Avg./   Pct.   Total
Movie                 (mln)  Theaters  Theater Chg.   (mln)  Wks
================================================================
1 RISE PLANET OF APES  $54.0   3,648  $14,803   --    $54.0   1
2 THE SMURFS            21.0   3,395    6,186   -41    76.2   2
3 COWBOYS & ALIENS      15.7   3,754    4,195   -57    67.4   2
4 THE CHANGE-UP         13.5   2,913    4,635   --     13.5   1
5 CAPTAIN AMERICA       13.0   3,620    3,591   -49   143.2   3
6 HARRY POTTER DEATHLY  12.2   3,175    3,830   -45   342.8   4
7 CRAZY, STUPID LOVE    12.1   3,020    4,007   -37    42.2   2
8 FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS  4.7   2,398    1,960   -49    48.5   3
9 HORRIBLE BOSSES        4.6   2,025    2,281   -36   105.2   5
10 TRANSFORMERS: DARK    3.0   1,854    1,626   -50   344.2   6
11 ZOOKEEPER             2.2   1,724    1,247   -50    73.6   5
12 CARS 2                1.1     926    1,226   -52   184.7   7


Top 12 Films Grosses:
   This Week     Year Ago      Pct.
     (mln)         (mln)       Chg.
===================================
     $157.1        $122.5      28.3


Year-to-date Revenue:

     2011          2010
      YTD           YTD        Pct.
     (mln)         (mln)       Chg.
===================================
   $6,678.6      $7,013.6     -4.8


Year-to-date Attendance:      -5.7%



To contact the reporters on this story:
Michael White in Los Angeles at 
mwhite8@bloomberg.net;
Ashley Lutz in New York at 
alutz8@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Anthony Palazzo at 
apalazzo@bloomberg.net



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