Movie Projector: 'Apes' will rise above 'Change-Up' at box office
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 the Earth, "Apes" is expected to swing to the top of the box office with a pretty good start of around $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 lives, is only expected to bring in a modest sum of between $13 million and $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 and partners Dune Capital Management and Ingenious Media for $93 million.
It has so far received overwhelmingly positive reviews. On Thursday morning it had a 83% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes and is generating interest largely among men.
The original series of five "Apes" films concluded in 1973 but was restarted in 2001 with a Tim Burton-directed version of "Planet of the Apes." That movie was critically panned but grossed $362.2 million worldwide.
"Rise of the Planet of the Apes" will open overseas in 26 foreign markets this weekend, 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, "The Change-Up" 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 critical response and is generating most of its buzz among young females -- perhaps due to 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 upon 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.
-- Amy Kaufman
Photo: Apes tie up traffic in "Rise of the Planet of the Apes." Credit: 20th Century Fox