Box Office: No Lamentation Heard From ‘The Help’

So many headlines that got lost after this weekend’s box office totals came in. “Conan Crushes His Enemies”. “Crom Shines on Conan the Barbarian”. There were a few others, but it’s moot now. Not only was Conan the Barbarian unable to beat out the returning power of The Help or Rise of the Planet of the Apes, the 3-D boost it had was just barely enough to get it into double digits. It was an even sadder state of affairs for Fright Night, which debuted out of the top 5.

But we should talk about the returning champions before getting into the new disappointments releases. The Help had a stunning 2nd weekend drop, just over 20%. The positive word of mouth and buzz surrounding potential Oscar caliber performances helped launch the period drama decidedly into the #1 spot. Also Emma Stone’s red hair has its own gravitational pull that brings in moviegoers. This theory hasn’t been tested, but I’m certainly willing to try if someone has her number.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes continues to impress here in its third weekend out. Again, positive buzz helps a film sustain its box office hold, and like The Help, these impressive numbers will do wonders when it comes time for the Academy to choose their nominations. Rise/Apes is up to $227.9m worldwide working off a budget just under $100m, so expect the Andy Serkis motion capture revolution to continue.

While that revolution seems on its way up, the 3-D revolution could be nearing its end. That’s hyperbolic. Nothing is going to stop the 3-D craze, not even when movies like Conan the Barbarian and Fright Night under perform. Spy Kids: All the Time in the World with its amazing (?) 4-D technology wasn’t able to match the openings of any of the previous Spy Kids movies. Of course, the budget for Spy Kids 4 was also lower than each of the previous films, so when all is said and done, it could be coming out about even. The same could potentially be true for Fright Night, which reportedly cost $30m. But Conan‘s budget is being reported as $90m, a number that doesn’t bode well for the possible franchise starter.

But back to the 3-D element. 5 of the top 10 movies out are presented in 3-D. While films like The Help and Rise/Apes continue to dominate, it could have studios questioning their 3-D slate, wondering if its worth the cost, time, and effort to post-convert every film that comes out. Still plenty of films on the 3-D horizon with Shark Night hitting next on September 2, but even with its PG-13 rating, it doesn’t seem that film will bring in blockbuster numbers. It’ll be interesting when the next huge 3-D movie hits, The Adventures of Tintin. If the numbers generated by the technology don’t amount to much, it will probably be time for studios to really begin to question the format. Okay, enough about business. Seriously, does anyone have Emma Stone’s number?

Here’s how the weekend broke down:

  1. The Help – $20.4m (-21.4%) $71.8m total
  2. Rise of the Planet of the Apes – $16.3m (-41.4%) $133.7m total
  3. Spy Kids: All the Time in the World – $12m NEW
  4. Conan the Barbarian – $10m NEW
  5. The Smurfs – $8m (-41.7%) $117.7m total
  6. Fright Night – $7.9m NEW
  7. Final Destination 5 – $7.7m (-57.3%) $32.3m total
  8. 30 Minutes or Less – $6.3m (-52.7%) $25.7m total
  9. One Day – $5.1m NEW
  10. Crazy, Stupid, Love. – $4.9m (-29.8%) $64.4m total


That was me just now after calculating up the weekend’s total. We’re looking at $98.6m for the top 10, a bad hit but expected after coming off some massive Summer numbers. In fact, the box office dipped under $100m a few times in the weekends before the Summer movie season kicked in. In case you don’t remember, there was a weekend in April where Hop was the #1 movie for the second weekend in a row. It was a dark time. No one made through unscathed.

And next weekend doesn’t look like it will put the numbers back on the high end of things. Colombiana, Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, and Our Idiot Brother are all we have to offer in wide release, and The Help could be looking at its third weekend on top. If it does, it’ll be the first movie to do that since Inception last Summer. And if there was anything missing from The Help, it was a well-placed BWWWAAAAAAHHHHH!

We’ll be back on Thursday to see how the weekend is shaping up.

Jeremy's been writing about movies for a good, 15 years, starting with the film review column of his high school newspaper. He stands proud as the first person in his high school to have seen (and recommend) Pulp Fiction. Jeremy went on to get a B.A. in Cinema and Photography with a minor in journalism. His experience and knowledge of film is aided by the list of 6600 films he has seen in his life (so far). Jeremy's belief is that there are no bad films, just unrealized possibilities. Except Batman and Robin. That shit was awful.

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