Peter Chernin, who was believed to be the likely successor to Rupert Murdoch, must have been experiencing a profusion of schadenfreude Monday as final box office figures showed that the first film from Chernin Entertainment, Rise of the Planet Of The Apes (released by Murdoch's 20th Century Fox), had exceeded the most optimistic forecasts, earning $54.8 million at the domestic box office. And it did so without the help of 3D surcharges. Analysts credited strong word-of-mouth and terrific reviews. (In this case, reviews may have mattered, inasmuch as 20 percent of the audience was 50 years old or older; younger moviegoers ordinarily pay no attention at all to critics.) CinemaScore said that the audience gave the film a strong A- rating. On the other hand, reviews meant very little to those who turned out to see The Smurfs . The film, which surprised everyone last week when it debuted with nearly twice what forecasters had predicted, continued to perform well in its second week as it earned $20.7 million to bring its domestic total to $76.2 million. The No. 1 film a week ago turned out to be No. 3 this time around. Cowboys & Aliens , which reportedly cost $163 million to produce, dropped 57 percent to $15.7 million, bringing its total to $67.4 million.

The top ten films over the weekend, according to final figures compiled by Box Office Mojo (figures in parentheses represent total gross to date) 1. Rise of the Planet of the Apes , 20th Century Fox, $54,806,191, (New); 2. The Smurfs , Sony/Columbia, $20,702,415, 2 Wks. ($75,904,246); 3. C owboys & Aliens , Universal, $15,729,455, 2 Wks. ($67,349,520); 4. The Change-Up , Universal, $13,531,115, (New); 5. Captain America The First Avenger , Paramount, $13,021,922, 3 Wks. ($143,203,967); 6. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part II , Warner Bros., $12,445,031, 4 Wks. ($343,086,045); 7. C razy Stupid Love. , Warner Bros., $12,017,146, 2 Wks. ($42,102,252); 8. Friends With Benefits , Sony, $4,687,883, 3 Wks. ($48,526,287); 9. Horrible Bosses , Warner Bros., $4,583,252, 5 Wks. ($105,125,415); 10. Transformers Dark of the Moon , Paramount, $3,086,145, 6 Wks. ($344,244,486).

09/08/2011