BOX OFFICE: The Help Dominates Final Destination 5; Apes Still First

Filmmakers made the mistake of allowing this ape to ad-lib, totally unaware that he’s a huge CHiPs fan.

Okay, so maybe I’m not good enough to make my living as a box office prognosticator. Final Destination 5 didn’t open in first, and it didn’t even finish second. But when you consider how frontloaded horror movies are with the teenage demo, a first place finish for a genre that can make upward of $25 million on any given week seemed like a sure bet. However, one should never underestimate word-of-mouth advertising and how audiences will turn out in droves to a beloved best-selling novel to film adaptation.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes stood its ground to finish the weekend in the top spot again. It may have lost 50% of its viewership from week one to week two, but there were still those who wanted to see James Franco get out-acted by Andy Serkis as a motion-capture ape. As one of the few summer releases, and one of the few non-comedies this summer, to become a $100 million grosser without the need of 3D surcharges, the suits at 20th Century Fox are pleased with the results. Not only did they make us forget about Tim Burton’s 2001 Planet of the Apes, but they made many people care about damn, dirty apes.

The only other big standout of a weekend that saw four major releases at the cineplex was The Help. Emma Stone continues her hot streak with this being her third film of the summer. To be honest, though, she was only in the first frames of Friends with Benefits, and her appearance in Crazy Stupid Love was second fiddle to Steve Carell. So she hasn’t been able to show you the goods like she did in last year’s Easy A. The Help got an added boost since it had a Wednesday bow earning $10 million in its first two days. The dramedy, which registered an A+ rating is Cinemascore, should play well into September and could very well pick up an Oscar nomination or two for the likes of Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer.

The only truths in life are death, taxes, and candy.

So what happened with Final Destination 5? The fourth installment, the totally mistitled The Final Destination, went on to become the highest-grossing entry in the series. With an opening weekend total of $18.4 million, FD5’s numbers are just below the first week gross of Final Destination 3, and that’s without the 3D surcharge tacked on. Unlike the Saw franchise, which became overexposed with a new entry each year from 2004-2010, Final Destination instead would arrive every three years like clockwork (until this year where there is a two-year gap in between releases). So the filmmakers would try to keep things fresh for audiences. That sounds like an oxymoron when you think about the original concept of the film and how the same idea has been regurgitated four more times. If this is indeed the last Final Destination at least its full-circle ending has a feeling of finality (for real – honest).

The Smurfs continues to play well to kids and even if Spy Kids 4 bumps it down the list next weekend, don’t expect Robert Rodriguez’s latest foray into kiddie fare to make as much as Sony Pictures’ little blue men. Already, The Smurfs have made more than $240 million worldwide and continue to make mincemeat out of Cowboys & Aliens, which has only made $81 million since its release three weeks ago.

The arrival of action-comedy 30 Minutes or Less comes just as summer comedies have begun to fade away from the public conscience. Marketed on the success of Zombieland, judging from the ads it looked like the same type of humor. Yet Zombieland‘s success was as a direct effect of lampooning zombie-horror. It’s difficult to determine what 30 Minutes or Less is mocking. The comic ensemble was also a hard sell. People are tiring of seeing Danny McBride’s mug and Jesse Eisenberg isn’t quite the intelligent sleazebag like he was in The Social Network.

Nearing the bottom of the top ten Captain America: The First Avenger is close to ending its run of 3D screens, and it will finish just below Thor‘s domestic numbers. Overseas numbers are very encouraging. Warner Bros. has been a dominate studio this summer except for that Green Lantern release. Harry Potter, The Hangover Part II, Horrible Bosses and this weekend’s eighth place finisher Crazy Stupid Love have given the studio a very strong summer. It will look to continue its box office success with the likes of Contagion, Happy Feet Two, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows and Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close this fall.

There’s fast and furious, and then there’s Senna.

On the indie circuit, one of the year’s biggest debuts was the racing documentary Senna. Opening on two screens, the doc raced away with the second best per-screen debut of the year with $66k. The expansions of The Guard, The Devil’s Double, Attack the Block, and Sarah’s Key this weekend saw a surge in attendance. On 47 screens, The Guard‘s receipts totaled $279k to bring its overall gross to $666k. The Devil’s Double earned $250k at 89 locations. Attack the Block made an even $100k, while Sarah’s Key was the biggest draw with $467k at 101 locations.

Next week, four new releases enter the marketplace, including three (Conan the Barbarian, Fright Night, and Spy Kids: All the Time in the World) that will be playing on 3D screens. So while women and their girlfriends flock to see One Day, look for men to sneak out to see Conan. Kids will be game for Spy Kids and hopefully teenage girls will be confused into thinking that Fright Night is really a Twilight spin-off.

1. Rise of the Planet of the Apes – $27.5 million ($179.2 million worldwide)

2. The Help – $25.7 million ($35.5 million overall)

3. Final Destination: We Really Mean It This Time – $18.4 million

4. Little Blue Men – $13.5 million ($242 million worldwide)

5. 30 Minutes or Less – $13 million

6. Cowboys & Aliens – $7.6 million ($81 million overall)

7. Captain America: World Police – $7.1 million ($285 million worldwide)

8. Crazy, Stupid, Love. – $6.9 million ($55 million overall)

9. Harry Potter and his Billion in the Bank – $6.9 million ($1.2 billion worldwide)

10. Face/Off with More T&A – $6.2 million ($25.7 million overall)

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