Newcomers look to de-throne Fox's 'Planet'

Warner Bros.’ fifth installment in the “Final Destination” franchise leads this weekend’s quartet of counterprogrammers looking to keep the domestic B.O. clicking in August. But it’ll be a tight race for No. 1 since “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” is expected to hold well following its surprising $54.8 million opening.

The top two openers should see mid-$20 million debuts, according to B.O. observers — but there are plenty of ways they could overperform. of DreamWorks’ “The Help,” distribbed by Disney, likely will be close behind with a bow of about $20 million for five days. Pic collected $5.5 million Wednesday from 2,511 Stateside locations — a solid midweek start that’s expected to build through the weekend based on positive buzz and a rare A+ CinemaScore rating.

The remaining two wide releases are Sony’s “30 Minutes or Less” and 20th Century Fox’s “Glee: The 3D Concert Movie.” Expectations for “Less” range from $15 million-

$17 million, while “Glee” is more of a wild card (Fox is expecting a bow in the high-single digits, but the studio said “Glee” fans could boost the number higher).

Fox’s “Apes,” which bowed last weekend overseas with $23.8 million, adds a few more major markets, including France, Germany and the U.K. Foreign cume is $30.8 million through Tuesday.

Domestically, “Apes” should see a second-week drop similar to that of Fox’s earlier summer tentpole, “X-Men: First Class,” which fell 56% to $24.1 million in its soph sesh. Though “First Class” earned slightly more than “Apes” opening weekend, the latter Fox pic has been doing better during midweeks and won’t have to compete with a major summer tentpole in its second frame (“Super 8″ opened on the heels of “First Class”). “Apes” could thus see a better-than-expected hold, perhaps giving it a slight edge over “Final Destination.”

Most B.O. pundits predict the Warner-New Line 3D horror installment, which cost a reported $45 million, could perform better than the low-$20 millions that pre-weekend tracking suggests, especially given the franchise’s core femme fanbase and 3D, and hit the mid-$20 millions.

The fourth “Final Destination” bowed at $27.4 million in 2009 , but that was during the weekend of Aug. 28 — two weeks later than Warner’s newest “Destination . ”

3D could boost totals for “Destination 5,” similar to how the format helped the fourth pic, with 70% in 3D. That film, however, launched during a less crowded 3D frame — not to mention during a time when popularity for 3D was still high.

Still, horror films usually do well with the format even now, and a healthy number of 3D screens — 2,800, including 217 in Imax — should boost “Destination’s” 3D prospects.

Fox secured all debut locations (2,040) for “Glee” in 3D. The studio is betting that the TV show’s popularity will translate to the bigscreen, though it’s unclear just how broad the fanbase really is (teens are a given, with potential turnout from college-aged auds).

Concerning “The Help,” Disney is counting on mostly female moviegoers to build buzz. The most optimistic B.O. observers predict the $5.5 million midweek bow will translate into a five-day take as high as $25 million-$30 million.

Meanwhile, “30 Minutes or Less” is Sony’s third R-rated summer comedy, after “Bad Teacher” and “Friends With Benefits.” Universal’s raunchy laffer “The Change-Up” bowed last weekend to an underwhelming $13.5 million and cumed $18.4 million through Wednesday.

Sony is expecting a better start for “30 Minutes,” but that depends on how willingly auds will welcome the summer’s seventh R-rated comedy. “30 Minutes,” budgeted at a reported $28 million, will earn most of its opening from males 17-30.

There’s little going on at the specialty B.O., with only two significant indie titles expanding: “Sarah’s Key” and “Another Earth.” “Sarah’s Key,” from the Weinstein Co., adds 34 domestic locations for a total of 101. Last weekend, the film expanded solidly, posting a per-screen average of $11,112 from 33 locations; cume is $1.5 million in three weeks. Fox Searchlight’s “Another Earth,” which broadens to 82 engagements, has totaled $516,332 in just as many weeks.

Launching in limited release, Asif Kapadia’s docu “Senna,” about Brazilian Formula Once racing driver Ayrton Senna, bows at two total locations in New York and L.A. Producers Distribution Agency is distribbing.

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