Over the weekend, the number one movie at the box office grossing over $54 million was the sci-fi prequel to the Planet of the Apes franchise, Rise of the Planet of the Apes starring Oscar-nominated actor James Franco and Freida Pinto.
That got us thinking, monkeys in the movies have always drawn a big crowd with the primates becoming as big of stars as their human relatives. Check out ten of our favorite movies in box office history where the apes are the stars!
1. Planet of the Apes — 1968: Though there’s been sequels and now prequels, nothing beats the original film starring Charlton Heston as an astronaut who crash lands on a planet where apes have overrun the human race. And nothing beats his famous line “Get your stinking hands off me, you damn dirty ape!”
2. King Kong — 1933/1976/2005: Also with many reboots since the original 1933 version, King Kong terrorizes New York City after being captured by a film crew on an exotic island. But we relate to the giant ape on a human level after it becomes smitten with the leading lady Ann Darrow.
3. Mighty Joe Young — 1949/1998: The newer version stars a young Charlize Theron who cares after a giant gorilla in the wild, but when it’s brought to America to be looked after, it escapes and rampages through Hollywood.
4. Bedtime for Bonzo — 1951: Starring a pre-President Ronald Reagan as a college professor who uses a lab chimp to prove the environment is more effective than heredity in behavioral development.
5. The Jungle Book — 1967/1994: King Louie of the Apes danced and sang in the wild with all his jungle friends and one young boy who befriended all the animals in this classic Disney animation.
6. Every Which Way But Loose — 1979: What is cooler than a fist-fighting, beer-drinking Clint Eastwood with a pet orangutan named Clyde?
7. Gorilla in the Mist — 1988: Sigourney Weaver stars in the film based off the true story of scientist Dian Fossey, who came to Africa to study and protect the vanishing mountain gorillas.
8. Congo — 1995: A research team heads into the dangerous terrain of the African Congo to save another expedition team searching for diamonds after their hunt goes wrong. They’re helped by a scientist and his gifted gorilla, who communicates through advanced technology.
9. Duston Checks In — 1996: A young boy tries to help his new orangutan friend escape from a life a crime with his human care keeper Lord Rutledge and runs rampant in his father’s hotel.
10. Project Nim — 2011: A touching documentary about a chimpanzee taken from its mother at birth and raised like a human child and taught sign language by a family in the 1970s.
Have any other favorite movies starring monkeys? Add yours to the list!