Box Office Preview: Four New Films Battle 'Apes'

6:56 PM PST 08/11/2011 by Pamela McClintock

'Final Destination 5,' 'The Help,' '30 Minutes or Less' and 'Glee: The 3D Concert Movie' try to unseat Fox's king of the cinematic jungle.

To say there’s something for everyone at the multiplex this weekend is an understatement as four new movies compete for attention, not to mention that 20th Century Fox’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes will remain a formidable opponent in its second outing.

Most box office observers believe Rise of the Apes has every chance of staying at No. 1, and expect the pic to gross $26 million to $28 million, following its $54.8 million debut last weekend. Through Wednesday, Rise of the Apes’ domestic cume was a healthy $73 million.

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New Line and Warner Bros.’ franchise installment Final Destination 5 could have the best chance of  beating Rise of the Apes if it exceeds expectations and grosses north of $25 million. The Final Destination, the last title in the franchise, opened to $27.4 million in August 2009.

Steve Quail, who has worked with James Cameron, directed Final Destination 5.

DreamWorks and Participant Media’s female-driven The Help is something of a wild card, since it opened midweek and could be front-loaded. Box office observers believe it will gross in the high teens to $20 million for the weekend itself.

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That would put The Help’s five-day debut at $27 million or more, considering it grossed a stellar $5.5 million on Wednesday and was on track to gross at least $3 million on Thursday.

Disney, which is distributing The Help, is being conservative in its estimate, considering how volatile the marketplace has been, but there’s no doubt the movie—earning a rare A+ CinemaScore—could open higher than expected, much as Rise of the Apes did last weekend (that film received an A- CinemaScore). It's even possible that The Help could compete with Final Destination 5 for No. 2.

Sony and Media Rights Capital enter the fray with Ruben Fleisher’s R-rated action-comedy 30 Minutes or Less, starring Jesse Eisenberg, Aziz Ansari and Danny McBride. Sony is counting on great word of mouth and a long run, versus a big opening, and predicts a $15 million to $17 million launch. The pic’s core demo is young men.

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Ben Stiller's Red Hour Films produced the $28 million movie, with MRC financing and then selling the project to Sony. Both 30 Minutes Less and Final Destination 5 will vie for younger males.

The fourth new film of the weekend is Glee: The 3D Concert Movie, from Fox's film and television studios. Tracking has been sluggish for the concert pic, and Fox is predicting an opening in the high single digits, far less than earned by Justin Bieber: Never Say Never ($29.5 million) and Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour ($31.1 million) in their debuts.

It’s hard to gauge how Glee will do, since it’s based on a weekly television show, and not centered around one personality. Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience did far less than Never Say Never and Hannah Montana, opening to $12.1 million.

However, there’s no denying the fervor of Glee fans, known as “Gleeks.”

Glee the Concert Movie is only playing in 3D theaters, and goes out in 2,040 locations.

One thing the four new movies have in common—all were modestly budgeted, relatively speaking. Final Destination 5 cost $45 million to produce, followed by 30 Minutes or Less at $28 million. The Help, co-financed by DreamWorks and Participant Media, cost $25 million, while Glee the Concert Movie cost $9 million.

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