It may not be the summer blockbuster you want, but it’s the summer blockbuster Hollywood needs right now. With 2014 summer box office down nearly 20% versus 2013, and 4th of July weekend arriving pretty much dud-on-arrival, Fox’s sequel, “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” needs a large-scale opening to gain some of that lucrative movie momentum back.
Swinging into over 3,900+ theaters, the sequel looks to build on the surprise success of the original reboot (quite the oxymoron, isn’t it?) which saw the $100M film debut with $54M three years ago and end up grossing $481M worldwide.
Domestically, “Rise” scored $176.7 million, placing it just outside the Top 10 behind “Thor” yet a notch above “Captain America.” And there’s certainly no reason in the weak multiplex marketplace that “Dawn’ can’t top that mark as fanboys really don’t have much to hang their Underoos on until “Guardians of the Galaxy” opens in early August.
So, for the second time in three weeks, we have a weekend that features just one new wide release, which is an anomaly in itself during the summer season. That alone should help “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” reach upwards of $65M-70M, as reviews have been akin to folks beating their chests (95% on Rotten Tomatoes, compared to 82% for the original).
Matt Reeves (“Cloverfield”) takes the reigns from Rupert Wyatt as director this go-round, and Fox is so high on him that they’ve already locked Reeves in for the threequel, which is on the calendar for summer 2016.
No doubt Fox is high on this franchise, as they spent $170M this time, but with foreign receipts expected to be much bigger, that’s probably money well spent. The series has grossed over $900M worldwide since the first film starring Charlton Heston back in 1968. Remarkably, “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” is the eighth film in the franchise, as 1970-1973 saw a new film arrive every summer.
John Carney’s “Begin Again” expands into wide release in over 900+ theaters this weekend and might see grosses of $4M. In 175 theaters last weekend, the heartfelt dramedy scored $1.2M. Can’t recommend this film enough—truly one of the most endearing flicks of the summer with an ensemble cast that is untouchable.
Radius—the indie offshoot of The Weinstein Company—hasn’t had much success outside documentaries, however “Snowpiercer,” Korean director Joon-ho Bong’s sci-fi actioner, tracked down $1M this past weekend in 250 theaters and will expand for the third straight time into around 400 stations hoping to ride its 94% fresh rating to new heights.
In exclusive release, Richard Linklater drops one of the most interesting films to arrive in arthouses this summer, as the Texas-native shot “Boyhood” over the span of 12 years. Ellar Coltrane literally grows up before our very eyes, and frequent Linklater collaborator Ethan Hawke plays his dad, Patricia Arquette his mom.
The R-rated drama runs 166 minutes, which may be a bit too much for the multiplex masses, but appeasing general audiences has never been Linklater’s M.O. While he occasionally dips into the mainstream with “School of Rock” and “Bad News Bears” he’s most well-known and adored among cinephiles for “Dazed and Confused” and the “Before Sunrise” trilogy.
The dude basically makes home-grown hipster porn…in other words…some of the best damn American cinema the indie circuit has ever seen. His creativity, attention to character and overall love of cinema make him one of the few directors working today that not only plays by his own rules, but always seems to erase and redraw the boundaries of what it means to be a filmmaker with something to say.
1. DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES – $68M
2. TRANS4MERS – $19M
3. TAMMY – $15M
4. 22 JUMP STREET – $6M
5. DELIVER US FROM EVIL – $5.5M
5. EARTH TO ECHO – $5.5M
CHOICE CUT OF THE WEEK: Fox’s “Exodus: Gods and Monsters” (Dec. 12, 2014)
With the recent success of faith-based films like “Noah,” “Heaven is for Real,” and “God’s Not Dead” it’s clear that Hollywood is attempting to get as close to godliness as it can. Riddley Scott directs this biblical epic of Moses leading the slaves out of Egypt in true “Gladiator” fashion.
INDIE SLICE OF THE WEEK: Richard Linklater’s “Boyhood” (July 11, 2014)
About as perfect as a movie can get. Seek out this gem.