A growing nation of genetically evolved apes led by Caesar is threatened by a band of human survivors of the devastating virus unleashed a decade earlier.
Title :Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)
Release : 29 August 2014
Genre :Action, Adventure, Drama
Writers:Mark Bomback, Rick Jaffa
Stars :Gary Oldman, Keri Russell, Andy Serkis
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Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014) trailer
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014) movie review
So far, 2014 has had several great films that are potential Best Picture contenders, and several great big mainstream summer blockbusters, but none that were a real combination of the two. That’s finally changed. Director Matt Reeves’ Dawn of the Planet of the Apes gave me that same growing sense of experiencing something on another level of expectations I had while watching Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, the same feeling of transcending genre, and the same realization that this could be an unexpected legitimate contender for Best Picture.
But will it also have the same potential as Batman to act like a vacuum sucking money out of audiences’ pockets? That remains to be seen, but there are plenty of clues that allow us to make some educated guesses, so let’s look at the comparison to The Dark Knight more closely and how the box office odds stack up, and then we’ll get to my full review of the film.On it’s second weekend in release, The Dark Knight’s main competition was from X-Files: I Want to Believe, which didn’t turn out to be much of a threat, and wasn’t really expected to be to begin with. On weekend three, Batman faced The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, a film that went on to gross more than $400 million worldwide. Nothing challenged on the fourth weekend, and then the fifth weekend brought Tropic Thunder and Star Wars: The Clone Wars to theaters, both of which performed well but neither of which were really huge blockbusters (Tropic Thunder amassed $188 million around the globe).
So The Dark Knight’s biggest competition was actually on opening weekend, when it faced another newcomer, Mamma Mia!, which eventually took in more than $600 million around the world. There were no other films already in the market sucking the air out or leaving little room for newcomers, as the only other film doing big business at the time The Dark Knight entered theaters was Hancock, which was already in its third weekend and had already amassed about 80% or more of its box office total at that point, on its way to $624 million overall.
With Hancock already having most of its money in hand, with Mamma Mia! the only opener against it and a film that didn’t challenge for the same demographics, and with The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor as the only other significant challenger emerging on the third weekend, The Dark Knight had quite an open field in front of it, riding the waves of a strong summer for superheroes and action-adventure fare — Iron Man, Hancock, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Wanted, and The Incredible Hulk set the stage to varying degrees, but only one of which (Iron Man) enjoyed significant critical acclaim.
There was thus both box office success and yet anticipation for something better to define the summer, and Batman was widely recognized as the lightening rod attracting all of that anticipation. Heath Ledger’s performance took on iconic proportions even before his tragic death and the film’s release, creating Oscar buzz that stirred audiences’ anticipation even further. The result, when The Dark Knight finally opened, was explosive, and it was an “ah-ha” moment for the industry and viewers everywhere. The Dark Knight had legs, and it ran a marathon, because after bursting out of the gate with such force and blowing everyone’s minds, there was nothing else that could keep up and no significant obstacles ahead.
Today is a much different situation, and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes unfortunately doesn’t have such an open field in which to run. First of all, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes opens against the continued power of Transformers: Age of Extinction, which of course is making all the money in China while overall still doing massive business in foreign markets. It’ll be in its third weekend when Apes arrives in theaters, but whereas Hancock on its third weekend against The Dark Knight Rises was slowing down and had most of its $600+ million total in its pocket, Age of Extinction topped $600 million yesterday and could hit $700 million by close of business Sunday, headed toward likely $1+ billion worldwide when it’s all said and done. The Transformers sequel in fact still has a large number of major global markets in which to open — France, Germany, Mexico, Japan, most of Latin America, and so on — in the next five weekends, and will continue to be a major force to contend with, especially as those numbers in China just keep getting bigger every week.
Planes: Fire and Rescue could pull a bit of the adult audience when parents start taking their kids to that animated sequel on Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’ second weekend. Then Hercules opens the following weekend, and it has the potential to draw a portion of fans away, although it’s not clear yet how much success to expect for that one. But the big challenge comes on the fourth weekend, when Guardians of the Galaxy will suck the air out of the room for everybody else dominates the box office. Right on that film’s heels a week later is Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Step Up All In (if you’re inclined to dismiss the importance of a Step Up sequel, think again, because the series has grossed more than $560 million with the first four movies).
So, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes has to open against a big blockbuster that’s still got a dominant position in the marketplace, especially overseas. It then has possibly significant contenders on the next two weekends, followed by an obvious major challenger that will steal the box office on weekend number four, followed by another major challenger plus a moderate challenger on weekend five. And of those six films, four are sequels/reboots in popular franchises.
Meanwhile, this summer has already had a few high-quality releases that received a lot of positive critical reception and that amassed strong box office — Captain America: The Winter Soldier (yes, it released in April, but it pretty convincingly established that month as the new start of the summer box office season), X-Men: Days of Future Past, and Godzilla, plus additional big box office successes like The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Maleficent, Rio 2, and of course Transformers: Age of Extinction, not to mention smaller but still successful examples like 22 Jump Street or even Edge of Tomorrow.
That summer setup is comparable in some ways to 2008, in that it has several blockbusters and includes mixed critical receptions for some of them. However, there’s clearly a lot more big box office this year by comparison, and also more of those films have better critical reaction to boot. Which means Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is not opening in a year that has quite the same level of anticipation for something to deliver a better quality of blockbuster, the real push this year is for something to come along and save the box office in a financial way. There are similarities, but in the end the position is not nearly as favorable for a big breakout performance that smashes expectations and captures the imagination as records start to fall.
None of this is remotely to suggest Dawn of the Planet of the Apes isn’t going to be a hit. I have no doubt it will win its opening weekend, and go on to strong box office. A domestic opening in the $60+ million range appears likely, perhaps as high as $65 million. The top-end would likely be $70 million if it really catches fire, but I am reluctant to expect such a higher figure and feel $65 million is a more comfortable territory for predicting at this point. Which would suggest it can hit or exceed $200 million domestic, and probably take almost twice that or more overseas.