AS FOX’s “War for the Planet of the Apes” scales a $102.5 million global opening, the question also rises: Is Andy Serkis, well-known as a motion-capture actor, still underrated as a reliable presence in so many box-office powerhouses?
Consider: Serkis’s films have grossed more than $1.8 billion simply when he’s playing a simian — including his current “Apes” trilogy and 2005’s “King Kong.”
Throw in the London-born actor’s presence in such franchises as Avengers (“Age of Ultron”), Star Wars (“The Force Awakens”) and the Lord of the Ring/Hobbit films, and Serkis’s blockbuster movies have grossed more than $8 billion worldwide.
And once you add his next two big films — December’s “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” and next year’s “Black Panther” — Serkis could become a $10 billion man in terms of what his franchise films have grossed worldwide.
It helps enormously, of course, that the actor who got his start three decades ago on British TV comedies has become a go-to performer for CG-heavy roles, including motion capture. Ever since his iconic role as Gollum for Peter Jackson’s Tolkien movies, Serkis — suddenly a precious commodity — has been able to go where the money is.
But most actors are fortunate to have just a single character that becomes fixed in the pop-culture firmament. Besides Gollum, filmgoers around the world now know such Serkis characters as Caesar (the “Apes” trilogy) and Supreme Leader Snoke (Star Wars), plus he will reprise his Marvel character Ulysses Klaue (aka Klaw) in February’s “Black Panther.” Many fans are hopeful that he will return as Captain Haddock for a “Tintin” sequel.
Then there is the matter of the Serkis-directed “Jungle Book,” a live-action adaptation with an A-list cast that’s not to be confused with Disney’s recent behemoth of a hit. If Serkis (who does double duty in his film as Baloo) can turn even a crowded-market “Jungle Book” into a hit next year, then his bag of cinematic mo-cap magic will seem bottomless.
Till then, the Golden Globe-nominated actor should remain swimming in box-office success. The well-reviewed “War for the Planet of the Apes” grossed $56.5 million in its domestic debut to hold off Sony’s “Spider-Man: Homecoming” ($45.2 million), which plummeted 61 percent in its second weekend.
The current “Apes” trilogy has grossed nearly $1.3 billion worldwide — and come December, Serkis’s “Last Jedi” should begin a $2 billion-plus launch.
Now, if only the Academy could appropriately appreciate Serkis with an Oscar nod to honor inspired performance beneath the painted pixel.