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'Apes' headed for top branch at box office

'Rise of the Planet of the Apes' is expected to open in theaters this weekend with about $35 million in ticket sales; 'The Change-Up' is forecast to do a modest $13 million or so.

August 05, 2011|Amy Kaufman, Los Angeles Times
  • Caesar the ape is portrayed by Andy Serkis in "Rise of the Planet of the Apes."
Caesar the ape is portrayed by Andy Serkis in "Rise of the Planet of… (Twentieth Century Fox,…)

After this weekend's box-office receipts are tallied, "The Change-Up" will wish it could trade places with "Rise of the Planet of the Apes."

A prequel to the 1968 cult classic that shows how simians took over Earth, "Apes" is expected to swing to the top of the box office with a pretty good start of about $35 million, according to those who have seen pre-release audience surveys. "The Change-Up," an R-rated comedy about two men who accidentally switch bodies, is expected to bring in a modest $13 million to $15 million.

"Apes" is the first movie produced by Peter Chernin, the former president of 20th Century Fox parent company News Corp., who left his job as Rupert Murdoch's top lieutenant in 2009 to form his own entertainment company. The film, which stars James Franco and Andy Serkis, was financed by Fox, Dune Capital Management and Ingenious Media for $93 million.

It has so far received overwhelmingly positive reviews. On Thursday morning it had an 83% fresh rating on the Rotten Tomatoes website, and is generating interest largely among men.

The original series of five "Apes" films concluded in 1973. In 2001, a Tim Burton-directed version of "Planet of the Apes" was critically panned yet grossed $362.2 million worldwide.

"Rise of the Planet of the Apes" will open this weekend in 26 foreign markets, including Russia and Australia.

"The Change-Up," which stars Ryan Reynolds and Jason Bateman, is the latest raunchfest to hit theaters this summer. But compared with other R-rated comedies that have found success at the box office in recent months, it had a higher-than-average budget and is headed for a lower-than-average opening. Universal Pictures and Relativity Media spent about $52 million to produce the picture.

"Bad Teacher" and "Horrible Bosses," which also stars Bateman, had production costs of $19 million and $37 million, respectively, and each opened to about $30 million.

"The Change-Up" has so far garnered largely negative reviews and is generating most of its buzz among young females, perhaps because of its hunky star Reynolds.

Meanwhile, many in the industry will be watching to see how "Cowboys & Aliens" holds up on its second weekend in theaters. After bringing in a disappointing $36.4 million in its debut, the sci-fi western will need very strong word of mouth if it hopes to make a profit on its $163-million production budget. DreamWorks SKG covered 50% of that cost, with Universal Pictures and Relativity Media equally splitting the other half. The three studios share the proceeds, or more likely the losses, based on their respective investments.

In a limited release, Magnolia Pictures will open "Magic Trip," a documentary about author Ken Kesey's 1964 drug-laden cross-country road trip, in three theaters in California and one in New York.

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