Weekend Box Office Preview: APES Will Conquer the Market

Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios.

Forecasting the Top 3 Movies at the Domestic Box Office
May 10-12, 2024

1. Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes
20th Century Studios | NEW
Opening Weekend Range: $40 – $45M


  • IMAX and other premium formats will be crucial for this title, which will underperform or overperform (per our range) based on its premium appeal among audiences. However, factoring in a COVID adjustment and a seven-year hiatus for the IP (War of the Planet of the Apes came out in 2017), we expect this to be a solid rebound for a brand that has always proved dependable at the box office. With big Boomer, Gen-X, and Millennial appeal (the latter mainly from the Andy Serkis-fronted Apes trilogy), Apes is a durable 56-year-old property that should not be underestimated.
  • As he proved with Fox’s Maze Runner trilogy, filmmaker Wes Ball knows how to deliver significant action set pieces on a grand scale, making this the first major release since Dune: Part Two with the sort of epic scope and worldbuilding that screams for the theatrical experience. Early positive Kingdom screening reactions from fan-centric press outlets concur with this assessment. Introducing a new set of ape and human characters decades after the events of War for the Planet of the Apes means this will be a great jumping-on point for new viewers. It has some runway to work with, too. Furiosa won’t be usurping the post-apocalyptic vibes for another two weekends.


  • Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes is looking like it will carry the lowest opening weekend ever for this modern iteration of the franchise…

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014) – $72.6M opening ($208.5M cume)
War for the Planet of the Apes (2017) – $56.2M opening ($146.8M cume)
Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) – $54.8M opening ($176.7M cume)

Even the poorly-received Tim Burton remake of Planet of the Apes from 2001 had a $68.5M opening.

  • Our lower predicted opening range can be chalked up to two factors: a slow theatrical market with weak title awareness and the fact that this is the first Apes entry not to have any marquee names, a la Mark Wahlberg, James Franco, Jason Clarke, Gary Oldman, Woody Harrelson, etc. The closest Kingdom has is character actor William H. Macy (“Shameless”), who is not featured much in marketing. Even the original 5-film saga of the ’60s/’70s had stars like Charlton Heston, Roddy McDowell, and Ricardo Montalbán. New leads Kevin Durand (“Locke & Key”) and Owen Teague (It)—interviewed in our CinemaCon issue—are not yet household names. However, this may be the film that proves you don’t need an expensive hire like Andy Serkis for a mo-cap film where the ape actors won’t be recognizable anyway. A good actor is good, even if you don’t get that extra bump from talk show appearances.
  • As we learned with Dune: Part Two earlier this year, there are big-budget spectacle franchises that, though rated PG-13, don’t necessarily connect with younger audiences; the Apes franchise, with its serious tone, could fail to catch on with younger demographics.

2. The Fall Guy
Universal Pictures | Week 2
Weekend Range: $14 – $17M


  • Despite opening below expectations, our Forecasting Panel of industry insiders expects a solid hold for this title due to Mother’s Day weekend. Normally, having two stars in their early 40s would be considered a detriment, but with the largest demographic for the film’s opening weekend being in the 45–54 age range (21%), you can expect the film to continue to be a big draw for older women (and their significant others) looking for a Sunday cinematic brunch.
  • Good reviews and an “A-” Cinemascore wasn’t enough to drive folks out to the theater opening weekend, but—coupled with positive word of mouth—these factors could pull in an audience this time. A profusion of think pieces wondering why more people aren’t seeing The Fall Guy could also help drive interest.


  • According to data analytics firm Movio, The Fall Guy attracted an older audience of frequent moviegoers over its opening frame. It also heavily skewed male (59%), which gives Challengers an advantage over Mother’s Day in its third weekend. Those coming for the action might also be more inclined to choose a known brand like Planet of the Apes over what is (essentially) an original concept.
  • While Universal expects the film to have legs, its underwhelming opening may or may not have made them gun shy about throwing good promo money after bad. The marketing spend for The Fall Guy was reportedly in the $100 million arena. The film will have to rely on word-of-mouth to overcome the smoke signals indicating that it’s already a flop in the public eye.

3. Challengers
Amazon MGM Studios | Week 3
Weekend Range: $3 – $5M


  • As with The Fall Guy, we expect holds will be stronger than usual due to Mother’s Day weekend, with a high-performing Sunday for this demo. The only female-oriented ticket out there currently lacking doom-and-gloom (Apes) or slam-and-bang (Fall Guy) makes the Zendaya-led film the most likely pick as destination cinema for moms everywhere. [Editor’s Note: Though, to be fair, there is no shortage of both slamming and banging in Challengers, in case any of you are actually considering seeing this movie with your mother on Sunday.]
  • Last weekend’s hold of -49% from opening weekend suggests word of mouth is good, and young women under 25 had a strong preference for this film over The Fall Guy. Expect a drop between 20-30% max.


  • It’s possible that Amazon Prime’s own The Idea of You, starring Anne Hathaway, may steal some of this movie’s thunder as a streaming romance alternative to going out and spending money on babysitters, parking, and popcorn. Ditto for other new streaming service chick flicks from Netflix (Mother of the Bride), Max (Turtles All the Way Down), and Hulu (Prom Dates).
Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios.

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