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‘Planet of the Apes’ Opens as Top Film With $54.8 Million

Aug. 8 (Bloomberg) -- “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 Canadian theaters this weekend, with $54.8 million in sales for News Corp.’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.’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 in 2011 after “X-Men: First Class,” “Rio” and “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules.” It’s also the first from Chernin Entertainment, the company led by former News Corp. President and Chief Operating Officer Peter Chernin. Chernin, 60, resigned from News Corp. in 2009 to make films and TV shows.

“The success of ‘Planet of the Apes’ is 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 had forecast weekend sales of $39 million.

Last week’s second-place film, Sony Corp.’s “The Smurfs,” held its position, with revenue of $20.7 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 generated worldwide sales of $129 million in the first 10 days of 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 $67.3 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 met the forecast of Boxofficemojo.com.

“Captain America: The First Avenger,” slipped to fifth from third with sales of $13 million for Viacom Inc.’s Paramount Pictures. The PG-13 rated film has posted $143.2 million of domestic ticket sales since opening as the No. 1 film during the weekend of July 25.

Weekend revenue for the top 12 films rose 32 percent to $161.8 million from a year earlier, Hollywood.com said.

Domestic box-office sales this year have declined 4.7 percent to $6.68 billion, while attendance is down 5.7 percent.

The amounts below are based on actual ticket sales for Aug. 5 through yesterday.

                     Rev.             Avg./    Pct.    Total
Movie               (mln) Theaters  Theater    Chg.    (mln) Wks
================================================================
 1 PLANET OF APES   $54.8   3,648   $15,024     --    $54.8    1
 2 THE SMURFS        20.7   3,395     6,098    -42     75.9    2
 3 COWBOYS & ALIENS  15.7   3,754     4,190    -57     67.3    2
 4 THE CHANGE-UP     13.5   2,913     4,645     --     13.5    1
 5 CAPTAIN AMERICA   13.0   3,620     3,597    -49    143.2    3
 6 HARRY POTTER      12.4   3,175     3,920    -43    343.1    4
 7 CRAZY,STUPID,LOVE 12.0   3,020     3,979    -37     42.1    2
 8 FRIENDS W/BENEFITS 4.7   2,398     1,955    -49     48.5    3
 9 HORRIBLE BOSSES    4.6   2,025     2,263    -36    105.1    5
10 TRANSFORMERS       3.1   1,854     1,665    -49    344.2    6
11 ZOOKEEPER          2.2   1,724     1,258    -50     73.6    5
12 CARS 2             1.2     926     1,321    -48    184.8    7

Top 12 Films Grosses

   This Week     Year Ago      Pct.
     (mln)         (mln)       Chg.
===================================
    $161.8        $122.5       +32


Year-to-date Revenue

     2011          2010
      YTD           YTD        Pct.
     (mln)         (mln)       Chg.
===================================
    $6,682        $7,014      -4.7

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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