Swarming the Planet of the Apes

The summer movie season is a high stakes poker table for studios. The entertainment conglomerates typically go all-in, with movies that have production and marketing costs that run well over nine figures. The reward is hopefully a summer blockbuster. This summer so far, superhero movies have held all the aces, with Guardians of the Galaxy 2 and Wonder Woman’s dominance of the box office charts joined last weekend by Spider-Man: Homecoming.

Our swarm last week was absolutely right in predicting big things for Marvel’s web-slinger its first weekend. Although Sony low-balled their estimates of weekend domestic gross at just $80 million, UNU said that Spidey would eclipse $100 million, which it easily did. This week, the swarm watched the trailer for another well-worn action movie franchise: War for the Planet of the Apes.

If you watched that trailer, you know that the third installment in the modern Planet of the Apes reboot is a brooding, darker movie that dwells on deeper themes. This is no brainless summer shoot-em-up, in other words. The UNU Swarm hooked into that early, as the replay above shows. The swarm seemed to easily grasp the story, and in so doing dialed into one unique aspect of this movie, namely that it’s a film that can make viewers root against the humans and for the apes throughout.

Shown above is even more positive reaction by the swarm to the trailer. 65% strong emotional involvement is what a mainstream drama picture might hope for. For a big budget third sequel in an action franchise to score that highly suggests that audiences will connect with this story and the man versus nature themes. In turn that creates a possibility for strong word of mouth to buttress the heavy marketing push accompanying War for the Planet of the Apes.

It’s no stretch to say that the swarm loved the War trailer. The temptation for the marketing team behind the film might have been to pack the two-minutes-plus preview with tightly edited non-stop action. But while this trailer has plenty of explodey bits to it, it also lets the story breathe a bit, giving Woody Harrelson and co-star Andy Serkis (in ape makeup) a chance to get to show off some acting chops.

After watching the trailer, the swarm was informed of both review aggregate scores for War of the Planet of the Apes (93% as of Thursday) and studio and industry box office expectations ($55-60 million for the weekend). As you can see, the UNU Movie Swarm thinks War for the Planet of the Apes will surpass those benchmarks. If the movie can best $60 million this weekend, that will put it ahead of opening bows for Cars 3 and Alien Covenant, among other well-known franchise sequels from earlier this summer.

Even with that robust revenue forecast, this weekend looks like a tremendous battle pitting War for the Planet of the Apes against Spider-man for the top box office spot on Monday. Although it’s typical for films to drop off more than 50% after opening weekend, the summer’s previous comic book movies have managed to keep 55-60% or more of their box office through the second weekend. The swarm isn’t totally convinced that Spidey can pull that off, but they clearly see that as a strong possibility.

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