The Tim Burton remake snags a record-breaking $69.55 million debut

By Lori Reese
July 31, 2001 at 04:00 AM EDT
Planet of the Apes: Sam Emerson

Simians indeed ruled this weekend as ”Planet of the Apes” took control of the top spot on the movie chart, scoring an estimated $69.55 million debut and giving director Tim Burton (”Batman”) and star Mark Wahlberg (”The Perfect Storm”) reason to beat their chests with pride. The highly evolved spin on the 1968 sci-fi classic surpassed ”The Mummy Returns”’ record of $68.1 million for a non-holiday debut. With such numbers, analysts have little doubt that these ”Apes” will follow in the footsteps of the original movie, which grew into a five-film franchise. ”It won’t just breed a sequel, it’ll breed sequels,” says Robert Bucksbaum of box office tracking firm Reel Source.

”Jurassic Park III,” meanwhile, lost over half its audience to the primates, dropping to No. 2 with $22.5 million. But the dinos are far from extinct: The third installment in Steven Spielberg’s $1.5 billion franchise has already devoured $124.8 million in just 12 days. The Julia Roberts-led ensemble comedy ”America’s Sweethearts” took the No. 3 spot with $15.7 million, while the Reese Witherspoon sendup ”Legally Blonde” finished fourth with $9 million. The Robert De Niro/Ed Norton heist picture ”The Score” rounded out the top five with $7.1 million.

CRITICAL MASS
Some primates may already be squealing for an ”Apes” sequel, but EW.com readers aren’t so sure it’s a good idea. Overall, voters gave the hirsute collective a decent B-, slightly higher than the critics’ average grade of C+. But readers were divided over whether Burton’s reinvention of the Cold War-era space saga lived up to expectations: One third said the flick was better than they had hoped, while the same number said the fantasy was worse than they thought it would be.

Likewise, if EW.com readers’ opinions are any indication: ”Apes”’ future is bound to be far less fiscally rewarding. A healthy 52 percent of readers said that they would recommend the simian revival to friends. But voters were again divided over whether they would want to return to theaters to see Walhberg and cohorts again: Some 30 percent said they would be among the film’s repeat visitors, but the same number indicated they’d rather be home watching the original star Charlton Heston on cable. All together now: Get your damn, dirty paws off Chuck’s movie!

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