‘Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes’ Reigns at Box Office with $56.5 Million Opening 

This image released by 20th Century Studios shows Raka, played by Peter Macon, in a scene from "Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes." (20th Century Studios via AP)
This image released by 20th Century Studios shows Raka, played by Peter Macon, in a scene from "Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes." (20th Century Studios via AP)
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‘Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes’ Reigns at Box Office with $56.5 Million Opening 

This image released by 20th Century Studios shows Raka, played by Peter Macon, in a scene from "Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes." (20th Century Studios via AP)
This image released by 20th Century Studios shows Raka, played by Peter Macon, in a scene from "Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes." (20th Century Studios via AP)

“Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes” reigned over the weekend box office with a $56.5 million North American opening, according to studio estimates Sunday, giving a needed surge to an uncertain season in theaters.

The film from 20th Century Studios and Disney that built on the rebooted “Apes” trilogy of the 2010s had the third highest opening of the year, after the $81.5 million debut of “Dune: Part Two” in early March and the $58.3 million domestic opening of “Kung Fu Panda 4” a week later.

The strong performance for “Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes” — it played even better internationally with a global total of $129 million — comes a week after a tepid start for Ryan Gosling’s “The Fall Guy” signaled that the summer of 2024 is likely to see a major drop-off after the “Barbenheimer” magic of 2023.

“Planet of the Apes” easily made more than the rest of the top 10 combined.

“The Fall Guy” fell to No. 2 with a $13.7 million weekend and a two-week total of $49.7 million for Universal Pictures.

Zendaya’s “Challengers” was third with $4.7 million and has earned $38 million in three weeks for Amazon MGM studios.

The opening for “Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes,” helmed by “Maze Runner” director Wes Ball, was the second best in the series, after the $72 million opening weekend of 2014’s “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.”

It’s the 10th movie in the “Planet of the Apes” franchise that began in 1968 with the Charlton Heston original with a twist ending.

“This franchise has never been allowed to lose its momentum,” said Paul Dergarabedian, the senior media analyst for Comscore. “There are very few franchises that have this kind of longevity.”

And it really is the property itself. The new film shares no central actors or characters with its predecessors.

“There’s just this love for the way it melds sci-fi with social commentary and straight-up popcorn entertainment,” Dergarabedian said.

“Kingdom” came with strong reviews and positive buzz (80% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes and a “B” CinemaScore). It was especially praised for its visual effects and the way its CGI has caught up with its primates-on-horseback aesthetic even since the last film, 2017’s “War for the Planet of the Apes.”

Mark Kennedy of The Associated Press called it “thrilling” and “visually stunning.”

The shot in the arm is welcome for the movie business, but there is little certainty in the forthcoming summer.

The year so far, lacking an early Marvel movie like 2023’s “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3,” is running 21% of last year’s mid-May total.

While there are potential blockbusters that feel like safe bets including “Despicable Me 4” and “Deadpool & Wolverine” in July, others like “Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga” later this month and “Twisters” later in the summer feel like they could break either way.

Pixar once brought almost guaranteed hits, but June’s “Inside Out 2” may not thrive like the 2015 original.

“There used to be sure bets we cannot necessarily bank on anymore,” Dergarabedian said. “It is going to be a bit of a hit-or-miss slate.”



A Grandmother Goes for High-Action Stunts in 'Thelma'

Cast member June Squibb attends the world premiere of the film "Inside Out 2" in Los Angeles, California, US, June 10, 2024. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni/File Photo
Cast member June Squibb attends the world premiere of the film "Inside Out 2" in Los Angeles, California, US, June 10, 2024. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni/File Photo
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A Grandmother Goes for High-Action Stunts in 'Thelma'

Cast member June Squibb attends the world premiere of the film "Inside Out 2" in Los Angeles, California, US, June 10, 2024. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni/File Photo
Cast member June Squibb attends the world premiere of the film "Inside Out 2" in Los Angeles, California, US, June 10, 2024. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni/File Photo

At 94 years old, actor June Squibb had to convince filmmakers that she could do a lot of her own stunts in the action-packed comedy film "Thelma," about a grandmother seeking revenge.
"It was great fun, and I came into it having read the script and deciding, 'Well, I think I could do that,'" Squibb said.
She did almost all of the motor scooter stunts and a physically demanding scene in an antique store, Reuters said.
The Magnolia Pictures film, directed by Josh Margolin, follows a grandmother named Thelma who goes on a stunt-filled rampage to seek revenge against telephone scammers who took $10,000 of her savings.
The film also stars Fred Hechinger, who portrays Thelma's grandson.
Margolin said Squibb channeled her "inner Tom Cruise" very effectively as she became more and more comfortable doing her own stunts as filming progressed.
"I got more crazy about it," Squibb said, noting that while she may be in her 90s, she feels 35.
"Thelma" arrives in theaters on Friday.
Squibb's level of energy was not surprising to Hechinger after seeing her work prior to filming "Thelma."
"We met before we started filming, we just developed a friendship and a kind of artistic kinship, so I was well aware of her magic," Hechinger said.
Coming from a career spanning from Broadway to film and television, Squibb has portrayed a diversity of roles throughout her decades-long career. She was nominated for an Academy Award as best supporting actress for the 2013 film "Nebraska."
While the film is a comedy, for Margolin, it sheds light on how many elderly people are targeted by scammers, including his own grandmother.
"My grandma got a call like that, my family got concerned like that, and then luckily in real-life we were able to step in before she sent the money," Margolin said.
"The things she's doing are fictionalized but the character is still very drawn from a lot of elements of my real grandma, and little moments and little details and little phrases are kind of woven throughout there," Margolin added.
The film currently has a 98% rating on the review aggregator website, Rotten Tomatoes, with many critics praising Squibb's performance.
For Squibb, it's especially important that women around her age can see the movie.
"We have been at screenings, and especially older women are seeing it and coming out just glowing. They just are enjoying it so much," Squibb said.
"One woman showed us what she would do if she had a scooter. She went through the whole thing of riding a scooter for us. I just think that's wonderful. I'm so proud of that, that someone can see it and it can give them such joy," Squibb added.