By Sarah Sluis
With little advance awareness, most prognosticators were cautious about Rise of the Planet of the Apes' prospects. The appeal of dystopian futures in movies, and, let's face it, CG primates, drew more viewers than predicted, to the tune of $54 million. Though the opening weekend was less than 2001's Tim Burton remake Planet of the Apes, and both had similar production budgets (around $100 million), most seem to be calling Rise the success. The current release has had better reviews, receiving an 81% positive aggregate rating on Rotten Tomatoes to the 2001 film's 45% positive rating. Warm ratings and a decent box office could make Rise the first of many Planet of the Apes reboots.
The Change-Up, however, was not as lucky as Apes. The comedy's $13.6 million opening weekend was the lowest of any R-rated comedy this summer. Paring an R-rating with the Freaky Friday set-up, which has mainly been used in kid-friendly PG tales, appears to have confused audiences and turned them off. Frankly, the movie's posters made my nose wrinkle in disgust instead of laughter. They were offensive in the most boring, tired way possible, which didn't bode well for the comedy. Surprisingly, 59% of the audience was women, with all ages represented.
Rachel Weisz's star turn in The Whistleblower averaged $8,300 per screen on seven screens, a modest debut for the movie, which will probably grab more viewers once it hits Netflix. Gun Hill Road, which centers on a released prisoner who discovers his son is transitioning to female, boasted the highest per-screen average for a specialty release, $12,600. Oscilloscope's Bellflower, a "stew of dark fantasies and youthful gonzo ambition," according to THR's John DeFore, also did well, averaging $12,000 per screen.
A number of specialty releases gained ground this week as they expanded their releases. The Future rose 213% as it went from one to 17 locations, averaging $5,000 per screen. Sony Pictures Classics' The Guard remained strong, rising 152% and only dropping its per-screen average by half, to $10,000, at each of the 19 locations. Fox Searchlight's Another Earth more than doubled its locations and rose 51% while maintaining a $3,000 per-screen average. Finally, Weinstein Co.'s Sarah's Key enjoyed a 45% boost when it doubled the number of locations, finishing with a $7,900 per-screen average and $532,000, the highest of any of the expanding specialty releases.
This Wednesday, female-dominated historical pic The Help will release, offering a breath of fresh air in a summer market dominated by broad comedy and action. The comedy 30 Minutes or Less, horror sequel Final Destination 5, and Glee the 3D Concert Movie will round out the offerings on Friday.