Weekend Box Office – THE HELP Jumps to First with $20 Million, Topping All New Releases

     August 21, 2011

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After two weeks on top, Rise of the Planet of the Apes swapped places with last week’s number two The Help on top of the weekend box office.  That left places 3-5 for the major new releases, Spy Kids: All the Time in the World, Conan the Barbarian, and Fright Night.  Even One Day managed only a middling per-screen average in its smaller release.  Details after the jump.

Title Friday Total
1 The Help $20,479,000 $71.8
2 Rise of the Planet of the Apes $16,300,000 $133.8
3 Spy Kids 4 $12,020,000 $12.0
4 Conan the Barbarian $10,000,000 $10.0
5 Fright Night $8,300,000 $8.3
6 The Smurfs $8,000,000 $117.7
7 Final Destination 5 $7,705,000 $32.2
8 30 Minutes or Less $6,300,000 $25.8
9 One Day $5,127,567 $5.1
10 Crazy, Stupid, Love $4,950,000 $64.4

The-Help-movie-posterThe Help is officially a big hit for Disney and looks like it will have legs for the rest of the summer, too.  This weekend’s total is a mere 21% decline from last weekend.  That number is a bit inflated because the movie opened on a Wednesday, but still impressive no matter the circumstances.  The Help will easily surpass $100 million—I am curious to see if the combination of acclaim and commercial success can propel the drama to Oscar buzz that doesn’t come easy to August releases.

Though Rise of the Planet of the Apes may get a technical nomination or two, Fox may have to settle for the hundreds of millions it pulls in worldwide.  The movie has grossed $134 million domestically, and will approach $200 million by the end of its run.  $300 million worldwide is a certainty, and $400 million is not out of the question.  It’s not often we see two critical favorites as diverse Apes and The Help maintain this kind of power over the box office.  This feels nice.

Said power is bad news for the new releases, though.  Spy Kids 4 performed the best, relatively speaking, with $12 million—not nearly enough to revive the Spy Kids franchise, though.  Spy Kids 3D: Game Over opened to $33 million in July 2003 on its way to $112 million.  Even with all the time in the world, the new Spy Kids has no chance at that, or even the previous series-low $86 million of Spy Kids 2.  Maybe this will light the fire under director Robert Rodriguez to finally make the oft-promised sequel to Sin City.

On the other end of the MPAA spectrum, this week’s two R-rated releases also disappointed.  Conan‘s $10.5 million casts serious doubt on the reported sequel.  And Fright Night proves that not every vampire tale and/or remake is an out-of-the-box hit these days with its $8.8 million gross.  One Day opened in 1,719 theaters, at least a thousand less than the other new releases this weekend, which explains the $5 million opening to some degree.  But to put it in perspective, the $2,979 per-theater average was lower than Spy Kids 4 and Conan the Barbarian.  The weekend was unkind to new offerings across the board, no matter the size.

Next week brings three new wide releases which, for their sake, will hopefully fare better.  There’s the action flick Colombiana, led by Zoe Saldana; the horror remake Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, starring Katie Holmes and produced by Guillermo del Toro; and the indie comedy Our Idiot Brother, starring Paul Rudd, Elizabeth Banks, Emily Mortimer, and Zooey Deschanel.

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