Frank Grillo to play Villainous Lead in ‘Captain America: Winter Soldier’

Disney is the place where announcements are being made this week. First they purchase Lucasfilm and now they’re making more announcements on Phase 2 of one of the upcoming Marvel films, Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

Frank Grillo has been cast to play Crossbones, an assassin employed by the Red Skull, and the main villain in the Captain America sequel.

frank grillo winter soldierwinter soldier

Comics writer, Ed Brubaker used the mercenary Crossbones as a major piece to his Winter Soldier saga from which the movie is based on. For those unfamiliar with Crossbones, he is more of a hand-to-hand street fighting combatant than he is a super-powered being who is deadly with a wide range of weapons. In Brubaker’s landmark story, Crossbones carried out all of the Red Skull’s dirty work, including the assassination of Steve Rogers.

Longtime BuzzFocus readers will remember Grillo from his role as Nick Savrinn in Prison Break and recently he’s played big parts in some of our favorite films like The Grey and Warrior. He’ll also start in Kathryn Bigelow’s latest film, Zero Dark Thirty and Warner Bros.’ Gangster Squad. His casting is an excellent one in our opinion for Crossbones and the thought of Cap engaged in closer combat excites us too.

Grillo tweeted this late Tuesday night: “Much thanks and appreciation for the kind words. I’m over the moon about being Crossbones.”

Captain America: The Winter Soldier picks up from the end of The Avengers and will feature Chris Evans once again as the lead role of Steve Rogers/Captain America with Samuel Jackson, Scarlett Johansson, and Colbie Smulders reprising their roles as Nick Fury, Black Widow and SHIELD Agent Maria Hill. Sebastian Stan will return as Bucky Barnes who we last saw fall off a speeding train into the cliffs of European mountain range. He miraculously survived and eventually becomes The Winter Soldier, a tool of the KGB during the Cold War. Also schedule to be in the film is Anthony Mackie who plays Sam Wilson/The Falcon. Meanwhile the search continues for an actress to play Sharon Carter. Anthony and Joe Russo are directing. The Winter Soldier is set for an April 4, 2014 release date.

Marvel Studios sets ‘Avengers’ sequel date – plans to smash box office records again in 3 Years

Should we just say it now? Summer box office records will likely be smashed again in 2015 when Marvel’s The Avengers assembles Earth’s Mightiest Heroes again for an untitled sequel.  Walt Disney announced the released date of May 1, 2015 today, in what was the expected target date after Marvel Studios released their film pipeline through 2014 at Comic-Con. As we told you last week, Joss Whedon is all locked up to direct and write. Here’s the revised lineup.

Iron Man 3 (5/3/13)
Thor 2: The Dark World (11/8/13)
Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier (4/4/14)
Guardians of the Galaxy (8/1/14)
Ant-Man (TBD)
Avengers Untitled Sequel (5/1/15) 

Um, yeah. Still no date on that Edgar Wright Ant-Man film. Wright directed some of our favorite films such as Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Spaced, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, oh and executive produced Attack the Block. What does he have in line before that size-changing Avenger movie? A film called The World’s End, which gets his trusty group together again (Simon Pegg and Nick Frost) about a group of friends who reunite 20 years after a failed pub crawl to try it again. Rosamund Pike has just been added to that cast too.

The Avengers 2

“When Hulk see puny Ant-Man?!”

Marvel Studios must be eyeing a release date of Ant-Man in winter of 2014-2015; it would be anti-climactic to come out after The Avengers 2, so it’s got to come out before, right? It’s been speculated that Marvel wants Guardians of the Galaxy to be the gateway film for The Avengers Sequel. It makes sense, unless Ant-Man is going to be a much bigger film than we expect, which it might. We’ll see.

Marvel Studios has to keep pumping out these films because Robert Downey Jr. isn’t getting any younger. He’ll be 50 when the Avengers sequel is released, and I don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility to see him be a part of at least a few more Marvel films after that–unless he plans on being the next Harrison Ford who by the way is not letting age get in the way of making a fifth Indiana Jones. Samuel L. Jackson will be 67. Don’t worry, Chris Evans will be made to look like he’s still 30, no matter what.

Want an even crazier thought? Just think about the time it took Jon Favreau to make Iron Man to the release of The Avengers was six years, 2006-2012. Remember, when Favreau used Myspace to get input from Iron Man fans? Okay, maybe I just remember that, but Marvel’s phase 2 will be completed in less than half that time, with at least two television shows up and running in that time on ABC. Wow! This is pretty exciting stuff.

By the way, I’ll argue with those struggling with waiting three… long… years… to see Avengers 2. There are a thousands of comics and graphic novels you can read from now until then that give you the same, if not better experience. In case, you know you want to keep yourself busy.

POLL: Would ‘Daredevil’ work better as a Marvel Studios Phase 2 Film or as a TV Show?

The hot question going around this week in the superhero film talk is will Daredevil come back to Marvel Studios? That may happen very soon with time running out for Fox to put a new DD film into production. Word traveling around the campfire is that the movie rights to Daredevil will revert back to Marvel by the end of this week, which would make fanboys ecstatic to imagine him in the fold for the next batch of Marvel films.

Joe Carnahan director of The Grey and The A-Team was the latest to give it the old college try for Fox, going for a funky, gritty period piece set in the 70’s based on Frank Miller and David Mazzuchelli’s Born Again story. Now that’s not to say that Carnahan wouldn’t have an opportunity to make this film should the rights revert back to Marvel, but as we’ve seen with phase I of Marvel Studios films, there’s a certain tone and universe feel to Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor. It would be a mismatch for what Marvel has been building. As a reminder, here’s what Marvel has in store for phase II

Iron Man 3 (5/3/13)
Thor 2: The Dark World (11/8/13)
Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier (4/4/14)
Guardians of the Galaxy (8/1/14)
Ant-Man (TBD) 

See the trailer below to see what Carnahan had in mind.


All of this is presumably culminating to an Avengers 2 film that would be targeted for 2015. Now Daredevil was recently brought into the Avengers comics by writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist David Finch in 2007-2008, after The Avengers: Disassembled storyline, when Marvel began publishing two monthly Avengers titles, Avengers and New Avengers, eventually building towards the Civil War storyline. Wolverine and Spider-Man were also part of the Avengers.

So there is some ground work to build on should they want to establish Matt Murdock as part of the Avengers, but it would be difficult envisioning Daredevil being part of the crew that bridges that cosmic gap that will at some point takes on Thanos in Phase II, just as difficult as it would be to see Black Widow or Hawkeye in there too. I’d rather see Marvel Studios push hard or ensure that Fantastic Four, Galactus, and Silver Surfer return to the studio. To me, that’s the money franchise that opens up the universe to all of these cosmic realms. But Marvel still has to deal with Fox with that.

Daredevil in the truest sense, should be dark, gritty, dirty and violent as Carnahan’s video suggests but I don’t see Disney/Marvel Studios getting behind a take so drastically different in tone or scope than their other films. Miller and Mazzuchelli made that as low down and dirty as they could at that time. It would be a fantastic launching point for a film. Now they could have a stand-alone film series and keep it separate. Blade was also retained recently too and the vampire hunter was more likely to encounter Daredevil than the larger-than-life Avengers. We could talk now until December about how cool a Daredevil reboot, or re-imagining would be with the current creative team at Marvel Studios.

How I’d like to see it work is through, is as a television show that is able to stay within it’s own universe, based in the real world of New York, and Matt Murdock’s entire rogue gallery could be done in the practical world as opposed to say, Guillermo del Toro’s The Incredible Hulk TV Show, which sounds like a budget nightmare. Here’s a list of his biggest villains: the Owl, Mister Fear, Stilt-Man, Gladiator, the Jester, Man-Bull, Death-Stalker, Mr. Hyde and Cobra, The Purple Man, Bullseye, Typhoid Mary and of course, Kingpin. The Punisher could live in this world, so could The Night Nurse. Most if not all could work in a live-action world.

bullseyethe owl

You could play up an entire episode or arc in the law offices and feature Foggy Nelson or have some great dramatic moments between Murdock and his long list of women, and never have to feature Matt in costume as often. One season could be the entire Elektra Saga. That’s the great thing about Daredevil, is that there are so many elements to him where he doesn’t need the costume as much as other vigilantes like Spider-Man or Batman do. Daredevil in the comics always worked best when he was on his own, starring in his world alone. He’s essentially a blind Batman who’s more acrobatic and has a bigger devotion to his job as a lawyer in Hell’s Kitchen.

He’s a character that doesn’t require much suspension of disbelief outside of navigating around that costume, which is brilliant on a comic book page–it’s a different story as a real life costume, but honestly I never thought we’d be talking about a Walking Dead television show five years ago. “Make it work,” as Project Runway‘s Tim Gunn would say. The budget wouldn’t have to be such a barrier like other super-hero shows and a serial television show develops characters and relationships much better than a 100-minute film.

the night nurse daredevilSo what we want to ask is, could you envision Daredevil better in Marvel Studios’ Phase II Film or as a TV Show on ABC? Look, if they’re making a film on Ant-Man, you can bet that a Daredevil film will high on the priority list in some form. And let’s not forget that there’s that mysterious Joss Whedon show that will launch on ABC between now and Avengers 2. Share your thoughts below and vote to let us know what you’d like to see, true believers!


The Box Office Story: Earth’s Mightiest Opening – Marvel’s ‘The Avengers’ Eclipses $200 Million

tony stark

There was really just one, green, giant-sized box office story this weekend. Assembling Earth’s Mightiest Heroes proved to be the jackpot as The Avengers were on a record pace, after blitzing through with $80.5 million Friday, filling the multiplexes this weekend and kicking off the summer film season. It didn’t matter if it was IMAX, 3D or 2D, the cash never stopped flowing through a whopping 4,349 theaters. The early estimate is $200.3 million (nearly making up all of it’s $220 million production budget on domestic box office) and worldwide the count is up to $641 million, placing it 55th on the all-time worldwide list. That works out to an unimaginable $46,057 per theater! The next largest opening was Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 with $169 million. Not bad for an opening weekend – and people still wonder why so much is invested in big blockbusters and their sequels. When it works folks, it reeeeeeeally works.

Oh and don’t expect The Avengers to be shown the door anytime soon. It has an incredible word of mouth and has become that next great popcorn film that people are more than glad to see multiple times at the theater. There are fans who has already seen it at least five times. No joke. Superheroes are here to stay, so deal with it sourpusses. Either get with the program or clear out of the way. This major score at the box office depended largely on the above average success of Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger and delivering on the promise to make an Avengers film that would service the fans of the comics and films. Marvel brought in the circus to every city and audiences came by the waves with so much excitement and left with even more than what they had going in. That’s what they call delivering on the hype. Now, if everyone who saw the film read the comics too, the world would be a better place. It’s never translated before, but let’s hope The Avengers brings some new and permanent interest in the surviving hobby.

It may not look like it, but there were films besides Avengers at the theaters, but the midnight sales ($17.5M) alone beat the field.

the hulk

Think Like a Man did its very best and came in second with $8 million while The Hunger Games (third, $5.7M), The Lucky One (fourth, $5.5 M), The Pirates! Band of Misfits (fifth, $5.4), and the Raven (seventh, $2.5M) all held their positions from last week. The only one that saw a steep drop was The Five-Year Engagement that fell to sixth from second with just $5.1 million. In the end that romantic comedy should do okay as comedies tend to have a longer shelf life than action films but expectations were much, much higher.

Hitting second-run theaters was John Carter, which added back 169 theaters and finished in 12th in this odd week at the box office and added another $1.3 million. Hey folks, worldwide it did make up its production budget of $250 million and we’ll never know how much was spent on marketing but it’s clear that the wrong group was chosen because that’s going to be one of those films that people are going to look back as a missed opportunity.

best exotic marigold hotel

Art houses had their own Avengers, and it was called The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (15th, $750,000), which opened to 27 theaters and brought in nearly $28,000 per location. The film was directed by John Madden (The Debt, Shakespeare in Love) and stars a superb cast filled with British standards, Judi Dench (pictured above with Celia Imrie), Tom Wilkinson, Dev Patel, Maggie Smith and Bill Nighy. The plot revolves around British retirees who take a trip to India in a newly restored hotel, but is not quite as accommodating as it was advertised. Older audiences love a film aimed at their age group and at least in the metropolitan markets, supported this film as a pure alternative to The Avengers and all of its booming surround sound glory. This is no sleeper however, as it’s already made $70 million worldwide and will likely expand some more in the coming weeks to a few hundred more theaters.

Now, we will see if The Avengers can hold the top spot and have real legs in the domestic box office. The Dark Knight went on to make over $533 million after opening with $158 and Avatar wound up making just under $750 million after a $77 million opening. How high of a ceiling will The Avengers have? What’s your prediction?

Here is the list of the top 20 films in Weekend #11 of 2012 according to Box Office Mojo and their estimate box office numbers.

1 Marvel’s The Avengers (Buena Vista/Disney) $200,300,000
2 Think Like a Man (Screen Gems) $8,000,000
3 The Hunger Games (Lionsgate) $5,700,00
4 The Lucky One (Warner Bros) $5,510,000
5 The Pirates! Band of Misfits (Sony) $5,400,000
6 The Five-Year Engagement (Universal) $5,100,000
7 The Raven (Relativity) $2,508,000
8 Safe (Lions Gate) $2,470,000
9 Chimpanzee (Buena Vista/Disney) $2,395,000
10 The Three Stooges (Fox) $1,800,000
11 The Cabin in the Woods (Lionsgate) $1,550,000
12 John Carter (Buena Vista/Disney) $1,325,000
13 21 Jump Street (Sony) $1,05,000
14 American Reunion (Universal) $839,000
15 The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (Fox Searchlight) $750,000
16 Mirror Mirror (Relativity) $715,000
17 Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax (Universal) $404,000
18 Titanic 3D (Paramount) $335,000
19 Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (CBS) $270,000
20 Monsieru Lazhar (US Only) (MBox) $221,000

Excelsior! Walt Disney & Marvel Studios Announce ‘Captain America 2′ With Release Date

captain america the avengers

It’s American Cap-italism at its best. Keeping the irons hot off of The Avengers, Marvel studios is continuing to push forward with sequels featuring Earth’s Mightiest Heroes in their individual film franchises. The Walt Disney Studios have announced a Captain America sequel to Captain America: The First Avenger to be released on April 4, 2014. This latest tale of Cap will spin out of the aftermath of The Avengers, which will hit theaters May 4th. Steve Rogers will continue his affiliation with Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. and efforts to fit into the modern world with his idealistic views and unique role as a super hero. Chris Evans has not been confirmed but it is assumed the actor will reprise his role.

Now what’s a bit odd is that this is being released a month earlier than usual Marvel releases which normally open up on the first weekend of May to kick off the summer movie season and in turn help celebrate Free Comic Book Day in comic book stores, which has been annually held on the first weekend of May. Iron Man 3 is schedule to release on May 3, 2013 supporting this strategy, Thor 2 is being released in November 15, 2013. Could they be holding out news of another release for that first weekend in May? Amazing Spider-Man 2 perhaps? As always with fanboy films there’s as much speculation about what’s announced and what isn’t. Marvel Studios could have up to at least three films release in 2014 with Ant Man (script by Edgar Wright, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World) and Deadpool still in development.

EDITOR’S PICK: Watch A Video Clip of Scarlet Johansson Kicking Ass as Black Widow

For now, let the speculation process on Captain America 2 begin. Without knowing what happens in The Avengers, who and what would you like to see in a Captain America sequel. Which bad-ass villain would you like to see next? Are we ready to see Ed Brubaker’s The Winter Soldier saga, which would mean a return of Bucky? Would you like to see the winged Falcon fight side-by-side Cap? And what about a new love interest? Diamondback or Sharon Carter? Maybe Cobie Smulders comes back as Maria Hill? Vote up to three things you’d like to see and if you don’t see your choice represented by our poll, click on “Other” and tell us in a comment below.


Nerdy Secrets With Mo Fathelbab – Episode 2 Podcast Presents NERDY SECRETS WITH MO FATHELBAB Episode 2 is up!!!! The latest show was recorded live, in front of a studio audience at The Nerdist Theatre at Meltdown Comics in Hollywood, California on TUESDAY, AUG. 30TH. We dubbed it THE RAMADAN SPECTACU-ALLAH! because Danielle Kramer, Dan Curry, “Nerdy Kid” Gil, and I cooked up an honest-to-goodness end of Ramadan feast for everyone.

The always funny DC PIERSON (“Mystery Team”) returned, this time as the special guest co-host.

The show kicked off with a brilliant stand-up comedy set by DAN CURRY. Then 9-year-old “Nerdy Kid” GIL T. DOMINGUEZ-LETELIER gave us a recap of his favorite summer films in a segment he called “The Summer of Mutants”. He schooled DC and I on how to make a great comic book movie (“more action, less talking”).

Then DC and I have an incredibly funny exchange with the panel which consisted of: AZITA GHANIZADA (from SyFy’s “Alphas”), KUMAIL NANJIANI (from TNT’s “Franklin & Bash”), and MATT SELMAN (the writer/executive producer of “The Simpsons”). We discussed an array of topics, from working with “Zack Morris” to stabbing teachers with pencils (you’ll understand it when you hear).

So anyway, without further ado: Posted on Categories Alphas, Captain America: The First Avenger, Celebrity, Comedy, Cowboys & Aliens, Critic Review, DC Comics, Film & Movies, Justice League of America, Nerdy Secrets, On Location: LA, Team Focus Blast Off, The Avengers, The Simpsons, TNT, TV, X-Men: First Class1 Comment

‘The Help’ Win Streak at Three Weeks, While ‘The Debt’ Opens Strong

Box office numbers were all over the place this weekend as films fell down and rose up the box office charts but one of two films that retained it’s spot for another week was The Help at #1 with $14.2 million, holding off three new challengers this week. The Debt starring Jessica Chastain and Hellen Mirren finished second with $9.7 million, opened with just 1,800 theaters. That’s a good opening, playing to the older crowds who have been looking for a more cerebral film. The Debt is a thriller about three spies tracking down World War II criminals for Israel and spans over 45 years when the spies are in their 20’s and to their late 60’s.

the debt move hellen mirren

Fairing not as well were horror films Apollo 18 (third with $8.7 million and 3,300 theaters) and Shark Night 3D (fourth with $8.64 million and 2,800 theaters). These encouraging numbers could see The Debt open wider in the coming weeks, but probably not too much wider because it’s averaging a $5,300 per theater, the highest average of any film this past weekend.

The drop offs for last week’s releases, Colombiana (-28.9%), Our Idiot Brother (-26.1%), and Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark (-42%) were not as bad as we typically see in second weeks, but I imagine a great deal of their interest this past weekend was part of the crowd affected by hurricane Irene, especially New York, Washington D.C., Boston, and Philadelphia areas. In those areas they must have felt like there were six new releases.

Other odd observations seen in this past weekend’s box office include a 3.6% positive gain by Crazy, Stupid, Love. despite the lost of 127 theaters. Both Cowboys & Aliens and Captain America climbed back into the top 15 and the other film holding its position from last week was Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 at 12th and is the third highest grossing film ever. Losers for yet another week were the August 19 releases. Conan The Barbarian fell nine spots to 17th ($1.4 M) and Fright Night fell 10 spots to 20th ($1.2 M).

Here’s the estimates of the weekend of September 2-4, 2011 according to Box Office Mojo.
1. The Help (Buena Vista) $14.2 M
2. The Debt (TriStar) $9.7 M
3. Apollo 18 (Weinstein/Dimension) $8.7 M
4. Shark Night 3D (Relativity) $8.64 M
5. Rise of the Planet of the Apes (Fox) $7.8 M
6. Colombiana (Tristar) $7.4 M
7. Our Idiot Brother (Weinstein) $5.2 M
8. Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark (Lionsgate) $4.9 M
9. Spy Kids: All the Time in the World (Weisnstein/Dimension) $4.6 M
10. The Smurfs (Sony) $4.0 M
11. Crazy, Stupid, Love. (Warner Bros.) $3.2 M
12. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (Warner Bros.) $2.4 M
13. Cowboys & Aliens (Universal) $1.8
14. Captain America: The First Avenger (Paramount) $1.8
15. 30 Minutes or Less (Sony) $1.7 M

We’re pulling for Steven Soderbergh-directed germ-phobia nightmare, Contagion to be the film to knock The Help off the top with his high profile cast,and easily relatable scare-tactics about a deadly breakout is sure to bring back some of the movie watching crowd, and there’s also the Nick Swardson comedy vehicle, Bucky Larson: Born to Be A Star and MMA drama Warrior starring Tom Hardy (Dark Knight Rises, Inception) and Joel Edgerton.

‘Apes’ Hangs On For A Second Week, ‘Glee 3D’ Stood Up

Don’t mess with these Caesar.

For a second week in a row, Rise of the Planet of the Apes took the top spot at the box office with $27.8 million in a narrow victory over new releases The Help – second with $26.0 million – and Final Destination 5 – third with $18.0 million. Rise took down another two other newcomers, 30 Minutes or Less which finished fifth with $13.3 million and Glee The 3D Concert Movie which opened to a horrendous 11th place with just $6.0 million.

It seems that audiences were split on which film to see this weekend with four films making their debut. Some found it as an opportunity to pass on going to the theaters altogether as the $140.8 million total weekend gross was the least accumulated in a weekend this summer since Jun 10-12 when Super 8 took the #1 spot. This is also the seventh time in 32 weeks that we’ve had a repeat winner.

The Smurfs was the only other film in the top five that was previously released, proving once again that animated critters are a force to be reckon with. It should have no problem breaking even this upcoming weekend and will likely hang in the top ten through the end of the month. Former box office winners Cowboys & Aliens and Captain America: The First Avenger were sixth and seventh while Crazy, Stupid Love., Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, and The Change-Up rounded out the top ten.

But what happened to the Gleeks? Ryan Murphy’s love letter to the Glee diehards may be one of the first films to fall flat in 3D, with approximately only 500,000 tickets sold. Can a television series, especially in this ever-changing landscape of how people get their entertainment at home, be expected to make a big splash on the big screen? I know that 24 has toyed with the idea in the past, the X-Files made two rather insignificant films when all was said and done, but the Glee 3D Concert may be one of the worst ideas put to film. To only muster an 11th place finish shows one of two things. It’s either a reflection of fans not wanting to pay for more Glee, or that the love affair with Murphy’s show may quickly fading to small cult status.

Here’s the estimates of the weekend of August 12-14, 2011 according to Box Office Mojo.
1. Rise of the Planet of the Apes (Fox) $27.8 M
2. The Help (Buena Vista) $26.0 M
3. Final Destination 5 (Warner Brothers New Line) $18.0
4. The Smurfs (Sony) $13.7 M
5. 30 Minutes or Less (Sony) $13.3 M
6. Cowboys & Aliens (Universal) $15.7 M
7. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (Warner Bros.) $12.1 M
8. Captain America: The First Avenger (Paramount) $13.0 M
9. Crazy, Stupid, Love. (Warner Bros.) $12.1 M
10. The Change-Up (Universal) $6.3 M
11. Glee The 3D Concert Movie (Fox) $5.9 M
12. Horrible Bosses (Warner Bros.) $2.4 M
13. Friends with Benefits (Sony/ScreenGems) $1.8 M
14. Transformers: Dark of the Moon (Paramount/Dreamworks) $1.3 M
15. Zookeeper (Sony/Columbia) $1.0 M

As for this upcoming weekend, we have the R-rated Jason Momoa (Game of Thrones) Conan the Barbarian reboot, the Marti Noxon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) written and Craig Gillespie (Lars and the Real Girl)-directed remake of Fright Night, Anne Hathaway in the romance film One Day, and yet another Robert Rodriguez Spy Kids film starring Jessica Alba. Think any of them can knock the Apes out of the #1 spot?Spy Kids has a good shot with 3000 theaters, but with so many new releases, Rise of the Plant of the Apes could pull out another victory.

Weekend Box Office: Audiences Went ‘Ape’ for Andy Serkis While Ryan Reynolds Found His ‘Change-Up’ Not Working

Rise Planet Apes Andy Serkis

There’s the old joke in Hollywood that goes something like, ‘Put a monkey in a movie and people will love it.’ Maybe they should modify it by saying, ‘Get Andy Serkis to play a monkey and people will love it.’ He did it in Peter Jackson’s King Kong, and he’s done it again with Rise of the Planet of the Apes as the ape Caesar. The Planet of the Apes prequel opened with $54 million domestically and added another $23.4 million from 25 other countries for a weekend total of $77.4 million.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes also stars James Franco, John Lithgow, and Freida Pinto and it appears that audiences felt that enough time had passed since that horrendous Tim Burton 2001 remake of Planet of the Apes. This latest reboot was directed by Rupert Wyatt (The Escapist) and the Apes, and the jaw-dropping craft of Weta Digital took the stage this weekend in a big way and audiences left feeling very good. Consider the franchise successfully resurrected.

While Apes may have been the king of the jungle, this is the second disappointing weekend for Universal Studios. Last week Cowboys & Aliens had to sweat out until the last dollar was tallied Monday in a much harder-than-thought win with The Smurfs, who eventually passed C&A later in the week, and finished second this weekend with $21 million. The Change-Up struggled to find its audience finishing fourth in its opening weekend with a disappointing $13.5 million. Cowboys & Aliens, fell to third with $15.7 million.

Maybe it was the R-rating that threw people as other body switch comedies like 13 Going on 30, Freaky Friday, yes, Zac Efron and 17 Again smoked The Change-Up, which is odd because the hard R clearly separated itself from the genre but something went wrong. This summer has been packed with R-comedies and The Change-Up seemed to be the latest to carry the torch, no one thought they’d drop it. And if Marvel Studios is thinking of developing Deadpool with Ryan Reynolds, they might want tread very carefully. He’s now 0-2 this year as far as being able a name that can carry a film and draw in the casual moviegoer. One could almost understand why women would avoid Green Lantern, but this was a film tailor made to be a date film.

Instead, the ladies seems to still be impressed with Crazy, Stupid, Love., which finished 7th this weekend but only had a drop of -36.7%, the least of any major studio release in the last four weeks.  There’s still the Friends with Benefits out there too as another option.

Captain America is continuing to bring in as much box office money as his fellow Avenger, Thor, but is running slightly behind because of the intense heat of the summer blockbusters that roll out week after week after week.

There’s not much to report on the indie front, but the reception has been incredibly strong on both The Devil’s Double a recounting tale of an Iraqi army lieutenant who was summoned to become the body double for Saddam’s Hussein’s eldest son, Uday. and Don Cheadle and Brendan Gleeson’s comedy The Guard. Cult-film audiences are still awaiting for Attack The Block to open wider. There’s also some strong interest in Bellflower, Gun Hill Road and Rachel Weisz’s performance in The Whistleblower.

Here’s the estimates of the weekend of August 5-7, 2011 according to Box Office Mojo.

1. Rise of the Planet of the Apes (Fox) $54.0 M
2. The Smurfs (Sony) $21.0 M
3. Cowboys & Aliens (Universal) $15.7 M
4. The Change-Up (Universal) $13.5 M
5. Captain America: The First Avenger (Paramount) $13.0 M
6. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (Warner Bros.) $12.1 M
7. Crazy, Stupid, Love. (Warner Bros.) $12.1 M
8. Friends with Benefits (Sony/ScreenGems) $4.7 M
9. Horrible Bosses (Warner Bros.) $4.6 M
10. Transformers: Dark of the Moon (Paramount/Dreamworks) $3.0 M
11. Zookeeper (Sony/Columbia) $2.1 M
12. Cars 2 (Disney/Buena Vista) $1.1 M
13. Midnight in Paris (Sony Pictures Classics) $992,000
14. Winnie the Pooh (Disney/Buena Vista) $722,000
15. Sarah’s Key (Weinsten Co.) $532,000

Must Watch: Captain America: The First Avenger Full Trailer

OK, for anyone that had reservations about the upcoming Captain America: The First Avenger movie, then this trailer should help quell some of those fears.

Marvel has released the first trailer to Chris Evans movie and it looks much better than expected. Actually, it looks pretty damn good. A throwback to the early days of Marvel, Avenger will focus on the Steve Rogers’ origin story, when he was deemed unfit to serve in the US Army. He then volunteers for Project: Rebirth, a top secret project which transforms him into a super soldier.

With Tommy Lee Jones as Col. Chester Phillips and Hugo Weaving as Red Skull, this looks like it may be the summer blockbuster come July.

“Captain America: The First Avenger” will focus on the early days of the Marvel Universe when Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) volunteers to participate in an experimental program that turns him into the Super Soldier known as Captain America. As Captain America, Rogers joins forces with Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) and Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) to wage war on the evil HYDRA organization, led by the villainous Red Skull (Hugo Weaving.)