War for the Planet of the Apes opens this weekend, and tons of credible sources are calling it the best movie in the franchise and a worthy finale to the series. Rolling Stone, EW, Variety are all raving, and the general public and critics at large agree; War is going to be epic.
When we last saw Caesar and the Apes, things were getting less-than-ideal for us mere humans. As War opens, it’s not looking much better. Humanity has been ravaged by a decimating virus and the apes have gotten more cerebral and increasingly verbal. Caesar and his tribe want to live in peace with the remainder of humanity, but of course, vengeance still looms heavy. Woody Harrelson is front and center at his devilish, wild-eyed maddening best as The Colonial who is pretty intensely focused on some ape-genocide. Suffice it to say Caesar and his tribe, um, disagree, with that sentiment. The result is an epic conclusion to one of the more underrated and sneaky-good action franchises of the 2000’s.
The movie is universally panned as a good film. But will the box office numbers be as big as the advanced praise??
The kids are out of school, there’s not a ton of major competition from sports, and movie ticket sales, especially for big summer blockbusters, tend to skyrocket. With no major competition this weekend, War for the Planet of the Apes is poised for a monster opening. Spider-Man: Homecoming set box offices on fire last weekend with a $117.1 million dollar weekend and the weekend prior, a movie with a much narrower target audience posted a healthy $72.4 million dollar take to lead the box office.
There is no doubt War for the Planet of the Apes will rake in the cash. But how much? The current OVER/UNDER odds for toppling the $100 million mark (according to topbet.eu) are at -280 OVER and +210 for UNDER. Vegas obviously thinks this movie will go well over the $100 million mark. But is there any value in the fade?
Will ‘War For the Planet of the Apes’ Topple the $100 Million Worldwide Mark??
There are a couple of factors to look at when predicting Opening Weekend box office takes. How much buzz is surrounding the movie? What do the early reviews look like? In the case of long-running franchises, how well have previous installments opened, and what is the general trend line, what competition is it facing at the box office, and lastly, what was the range of top opening movies from similar weekends in recent previous years?
The Buzz: This franchise has a rabid fan base whose interest hasn’t waned through multiple sequels. Despite the nearly four-decade old premise, the story has continued to grow and evolve and grow its legion of followers. Nearly 98% of movie goers on Rotten Tomatoes say they are wanting to see the movie with close to 30,000 ratings. That’s a pretty healthy buzz.
The Reviews: The critics are all in on War. The early Rotten Tomatoes scores is a respectable 92%, putting it in good company with Spider-Man Homecoming (93%) and even Oscar-buzz films like Baby Driver (96%). It is the same critic score as the widely acclaimed and commercially successful Wonder Woman and well ahead of the latest Pirates of the Caribbean tale (81%) and big-budget busts like ill-advised The Mummy reboot and yet another Transformers.
There is something very enticing about a popular franchise that is getting “best installment yet” type buzz. It should translate to box office success.
Past Installments: Here is where we get some solid news in regards to the $100 million dollar threshold. The last two installments opened at $54.8 and $72.6 – DOMESTICALLY, It would be a sizeable leap to over $100 here in the States, but adding in the Worldwide audience, we should see that number breeze past. Add in the increased ticket costs and wider available of 3D and premium theaters in the States should help. It isn’t a deal breaker on the OVER, but it is a concerning counter point to nine-digit enthusiasm. Worldwide, the previous Apes installments opened at over $104 million. The basic verdict: the $100 million number should be broken, but it won’t likely be shattered.
General Trend Line: Each Apes movie has made substantially more than the last from a Worldwide perspective. Domestically, the second modern installment dipped just slightly, but there was also a full decade gap between the two films. From the most recent installments in 2011 (Rise) and 2014 (Dawn) the domestic and worldwide growth was a 16% and 45% jump respectively. Even a steady hold would push this opening weekend over $100 worldwide, an even progression would get it there with some room to spare.
Box Office Competition: Despicable Me 3 is two weeks old, and shouldn’t be much competition for the tween and young adult audience. There is some really good buzz for The Big Sick, the latest Judd Apatow rom-com with heart. But from a date-night perspective, it shouldn’t be a big competitor as they are playing to different demographics, and comedies don’t typically open as aggressively as blockbusters. Spider Man is a week old, and while it will have some staying power, it shouldn’t depress the opening of War for the Planet of the Apes to drastically. It’s a pretty clean box office weekend with no major competitor opening head-to-head.
Historical Weekend Performance: Last year’s comparable weekend was a MONSTER, the biggest release was The Secret Life of Pets, which naturally plays to a smaller demographic (as well as totes a much lower budget) yet still toppled $100 million DOMESTICALLY ALONE. That’s enormous. The previous year, Minions did an even more ridiculous $115 million domestically. In 2014, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes did a nice $74 domestically and $104 worldwide.
The point is, this is a good, safe weekend for big blockbuster movie openings and one that propelled this franchise to a nine-digit opening three years ago exactly.
OVERALL: War for the Planet of the Apes appears to be a good movie quality wise and a franchise with good growing momentum. It’s debuting on a good opening weekend calendar-wise, and aside from the lingering Spider-Man: Homecoming audience who were a week late to the party, doesn’t face any major movie openings to contend with. Strong reviews, strong fan support and good overall franchise buzz for a satisfying finale should propel this movie to a solid opening weekend. I’ll take the -280 wager on the OVER $100 million dollar total haul, even though it is at steep odds, as a pretty safe bet.
So, get off the couch you damn, dirty apes and head down to the theatre and grab some popcorn and a movie ticket! You can enjoy a good movie as well as help cash a winning wager on a nine-digit Opening Weekend!
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