Box Office Report: 'Apes' Rule and 'Wish Upon' Drools

Box Office Report: 'Apes' Rule and 'Wish Upon' Drools

Jul 17, 2017

War for the Planet of the ApesHere's your estimated 3-day box office returns (new releases bolded):

1. War of the Planet of the Apes - $56.5 million ($56.5 million total)

2. Spider-Man: Homecoming - $45.2 million ($208.2 million total)

3. Despicable Me 3 - $18.9 million ($187.9 million total)

4. Baby Driver - $8.7 million ($73.1 million total)

5. The Big Sick - $7.6 million ($16.0 million total)

6. Wonder Woman - $6.8 million ($380.6 million total)

7. Wish Upon - $5.5 million ($5.5 million total)

8. Cars 3 - $3.1 million ($140.0 million total)

9. Transformers: The Last Knight - $2.7 million ($124.8 million total)

10. The House - $1.7 million ($23.1 million total)


The Big Stories

The competition was enough to knock Spider-Man off his perch, but Apes may have fallen victim to moviegoers’ hypnotized view towards most franchise efforts this summer. That would be their first mistake in calling War for the Planet of the Apes just another franchise player. It is not merely just another film in a series chasing familiarity for easy bucks. No, this is the completion of a trilogy and a critically-acclaimed one at that.

How often do you see reviews get better for a continuation of films? Six of the seven highest-grossing films of the summer are franchise related sequels or reboots; all seven if you want to throw in Wonder Woman as part of a larger picture. If Matt Reeves’ Apes finale comes in lower than any of them, it is going to be a real shame. So let’s see if that’s even possible.



Caesar’s first word will be what is collectively voiced by most critics if Apes’ opening is a symbol of audiences ignoring a tentpole masterwork such as War. The new Apes trilogy, which has served as a prequel to the 1968 original with Charlton Heston, has gone from 81% approval at Rotten Tomatoes for Rise, then 90% for Dawn and now 94% for War.

This is not Pirates of the Caribbean 5 or Transformers 5 (which are at $751 and $517 million worldwide, respectively.) Sure, critics are having a kick this summer in the 90s with The Big Sick (97%), Baby Driver (95%), Spider-Man: Homecoming (93%) and Wonder Woman (92%), but that should only put to bed the early summer theory that critics were out to sabotage junk like Baywatch and The Mummy. The good news is that Apes had a better weekend than those two combined, but what is in store for its future?

Rise of the Planet of the Apes opened to $54.1 million back in early August of 2011 and posted a 3.22 multiple for a final domestic gross of $176.7 million. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes opened even stronger to $72.6 million which can explain its 2.87 multiple. Still, $208.5 million later, who is counting?

Well, people certainly are now, as War for the Planet of the Apes has opened to $55.7 million, just a bit more than the original. Does that mean it is headed for a similar multiple?

With an “A-“ Cinemascore (the same as Rise and Dawn) in its favor, War actually joins a number of July releases since 2000 with the same public weekend survey that opened between $50-60 million: Star Trek Beyond; Jason Bourne; Charlie and the Chocolate Factory; Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation; X-Men; The Wolverine; The Bourne Supremacy; I, Robot.

The average multiple of those films was 3.01. War currently has the highest Rotten Tomatoes score of the bunch (Rogue Nation is 93%), so if we take out the three films that garnered less than 80% amongst critics, the multiple average jumps up to, well, 3.22.

So let’s put the first estimate for War between $170-182 million. That would be encouraging because it means it would most likely top the other beaten-down live-action franchises this summer. (The bad ones, not Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.) Dawn managed to gross over $708 million worldwide. With a $150 million budget, War is going to need only somewhere between $450-500 million to break even. The original grossed $481 million and chances are that Fox should still have a success on their hands, even if it deserves to gross more.


Wish Upon A Better Marketing Campaign

Broad Green Pictures released their 16th film this weekend and just their fouth to hit more than 1,600 theaters. The Neon Demon and 99 Homes also went semi-wide in 783 and 691 theaters eventually, but Wish Upon seemed like a no-brainer.

That is not a reference to what critics are saying about the film. (It is 21% at Rotten Tomatoes.) No, it is actually referencing what most companies, particularly Blumhouse, know all too well. If you release a horror film, fans will show up. The defunct Relativity opened The Lazarus Effect to $10.2 million in February 2015, for Pete’s sake. So why couldn’t Broad Green get Wish Upon to fly farther than $5.5 million in its opening weekend?

Don’t say bad reviews. The Bye Bye Man, Shark Night 3-D, The Gallows, Mirrors, The Forest, and Shutter all received “C” Cinemascores like Wish Upon and got Rotten Tomatoes scores under 25%. They all opened between $8.4 and $13.5 million.

Don’t say lack of starpower. Kiefer Sutherland and Joshua Jackson were the two biggest names in those films. People still don’t know who starred in The Gallows and it opened to $9.8 million in July of 2015. Wish Upon at least had a semi-intriguing idea behind it, so did Broad Green simply just blow the marketing?

When A24 got into the wide-release business, they managed to get The Witch and It Comes At Night to $8.8 and $5.9 million with marketing targeting precisely those horror fans who show up. They turned up to brainier films than they expected and later rejected them outright, but the low-budget titles made their money.

Wish Upon only cost $12 million and in a season where big budget wannabe scare shows Alien Covenant and The Mummy failed to impress, It Comes At Night wasn’t the usual junk horror fans show up for and 47 Meters Down was a straight-to-video release that grossed over $40 million, Wish Upon should have at least opened to more than Freestyle Releasing’s The Haunting of Molly Hartley.


Tales of the Top Ten

Spider-Man: Homecoming joins a list of films that hit $200 million on their tenth day of release. Eight of those ten films went on to gross over $300 million, so which group does it have more in common with? 

One of those two films, Man of Steel opened to $116.6 million and had $210 million at the end of its tenth day. That is almost directly on par with Homecoming, though it was dropping faster, with just $41.2 million in weekend two compared to Spider-Man’s $45.2 million. Man of Steel finished with $291 million, while Iron Man 2 ended with $312 million.

That Tony Stark film opened to $128.1 million, added another $52 million the next weekend and yet, because of its May release was only at $211.2 million. Homecoming’s final gross may still get somewhere in-between those two films, meaning last week’s initial estimate of $305 million is currently holding true. Next week, Spider-Man will need to stay above the $20.7 million third weekend of Man of Steel to hold pace.

Despicable Me 3 still has a $26+ million pace ahead of the original, keeping it on track for somewhere around $270-280 million in the U.S. Again, no family films will truly challenge it until The Emoji Movie, which we are already tracking rumors of it not even being screened for critics in most markets – rare for an animated film. The sequel is over $619 million worldwide, making it just the seventh film of the year to reach that milestone.

Wonder Woman, meanwhile, is just the fourth to be over $760 million. By next weekend it will be surpassing Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 as the domestic champ of the summer and no film is likely to top it. Congratulations, Patti Jenkins and DC.

Also a huge congratulations to Edgar Wright, whose Baby Driver continues to keep its audience. Just another 35% drop has the film at nearly $73 million. It is just slightly off the pace of John Wick: Chapter Two, which finished with $92 million. We’ll have a better idea next week if it can reach the $100 million milestone.

Speaking of films with 90+% scores at Rotten Tomatoes that we want to see do well, The Big Sick finally got its wide launch this week into 2,597 theaters and grossed $7.6 million. This is far wider than (500) Days of Summer ever opened to back in the summer of 2009 and so far it is paying off, nearly doubling what that Sundance romantic comedy did when it expanded to just 817 theaters in weekend four.  

Anything over $32.3 million will make Kumail Nanjiani and Michael Showalter’s film the best summer Sundance success story since 2006’s Little Miss Sunshine and with $16 million it is nearly halfway there. This is still likely a film continuing to find its audience, so its drops (or lack thereof) over the coming weeks could be very interesting.

- Erik Childress can be heard each week evaluating box office on WGN Radio with Nick Digilio as well as on Business First AM with Angela Miles and his Movie Madness Podcast.

[Box officee figures via Box Office Mojo.]

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