Weekend Report: Hail the Conquering 'Apes'
Over the weekend, Rise of the Planet of the Apes swung in with a chest-beating debut, while The Change-Up was flung aside and The Smurfs stretched its lead over Cowboys & Aliens.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes climbed to the top with $54.8 million on approximately 5,400 screens at 3,648 locations, which ranked as the fourth highest-grossing August opening ever (but ninth normalized for ticket-price inflation). Among comparable movies, the franchise reboot's launch was superior to District 9's $37.4 million and Terminator Salvation's $42.6 million and close to G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra's $54.7 million (on the same weekend in 2009). It even grossed more than I, Robot's $52.2 million (though sold fewer tickets) and was just a hair lower than X-Men: First Class's $55.1 million earlier this summer.

Though Rise was beneath Planet of the Apes (2001)'s $68.5 million ($96.5 million adjusted for ticket price inflation), that was to be expected considering it didn't cover the franchise's most iconic territory and was essentially a remake of one of the fractionally popular sequels, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes. Rise also had to overcome a ten-year franchise dormancy and the taint of audiences' mixed reaction to the Planet remake, but it was propelled by an on-point marketing campaign that packed plenty of ape thrills and recalled recent successes like I, Robot, District 9 and even Avatar. Distributor 20th Century Fox's exit polling indicated that 54 percent of Rise's audience was male and 56 percent was age 25 years and older.

It was a freaky weekend for The Change-Up, and not in a good way. The comedy opened in fourth with a soft $13.5 million on around 3,300 screens at 2,913 locations. That was a far cry from the summer's other R-rated comedies, including Friends with Benefits ($18.6 million). Despite the attempt at a raunchy twist on the body switch comedy, Change-Up also fell far short of the recent body-switch comedies 17 Again ($23.7 million), 13 Going on 30 ($21.1 million) and Freaky Friday ($22.2 million) even before normalizing for ticket-price inflation. Distributor Universal Pictures' research showed that 59 percent of Change-Up's audience was female and 50 percent was age 30 years and older.

Ranking second, The Smurfs dipped 42 percent to $20.7 million (41 percent of which from 3D presentations), holding better than G-Force, Hop and others at the same point. Cowboys & Aliens wrangled third place with $15.7 million, collapsing by 57 percent. The two movies' respective ten-day tallies were $75.9 million and $67.3 million.

Captain American: The First Avenger's neck-and-neck battle with Thor for summer superhero supremacy continued. Captain gained ground on the weekdays, but Thor's mightier weekend numbers have kept it slightly ahead. Rounding out the Top Five, Captain was off 49 percent to $13 million for a $143.2 million sum in 17 days, compared to Thor's $145.4 million through the same point.

In sixth, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 held better than the previous July Potters, Order of the Phoenix and Half-Blood Prince, for the first time. Slowing 43 percent, Harry's last stand generated $12.4 million for a whopping $343.1 million tally in 24 days, and it will surpass Transformers: Dark of the Moon by Tuesday at the latest to become the top-grossing movie from 2011.

Meanwhile, Crazy, Stupid, Love. had a decent hold, easing 37 percent to $12 million for a $42.1 million total in ten days.

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Last Weekend

'Cowboys' Out-Draws 'Smurfs' in Near Photo Finish

This Timeframe in Past Years:

• 2010 - 'Other Guys' Arrest Audiences, 'Step Up' Gets Served, 'Inception' Lingers

• 2009 - 'G.I. Joe' Doesn't Roll Snake Eyes

• 2008 - 'Dark Knight' Still Ablaze in Fourth Week

• 2007 - 'Rush Hour 3' Packs Less Punch

• 2006 - 'Step Up' Stands Out, 'World Trade Center' Sturdy in Third

• 2005 - 'Four Brothers,' 'Skeleton Key' Bury 'Deuce Bigalow'

• 2002 - Extreme Weekend for 'XXX'

Related Charts

Weekend Box Office Results

• All-Time August Opening Weekends

• 'Planet of the Apes' Franchise

• Prequel Opening Weekends

• Body Switch Comedy Opening Weekends

• Showdown: 'Cowboys' Vs. 'Smurfs'

• Showdown: 'Captain America' Vs. 'Thor'

• Showdown: 'Harry Potter' Vs. 'Dark Knight'

• Showdown: 'Harry Potter' Vs. 'Twilight'