The Help fended off three new wide releases and Irene to remain at the top of the box office.

‘The Help’ Leads Irene Weakened Box Office

on August 28, 2011 by Daniel Garris
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An already slow weekend at the box office was no doubt weakened even further by the presence of Hurricane (now Tropical Storm) Irene on the East Coast. The marketplace in general was clearly affected by Irene this weekend, as numerous theatres throughout the East Coast were closed on Saturday and Sunday.

The big exception this weekend was The Help. There was no stopping the Disney distributed DreamWorks film, as it grossed an estimated $14.33 million to claim first place for a second straight weekend. The Help fell just 28 percent from last weekend as it continues to benefit greatly from terrific word of mouth. Furthermore, the fact that the film is playing especially strong in rural parts of the country no doubt helped it weather the impact from Irene this weekend in comparison to other films. The Help continues to exceed expectations in a big way with a 19-day gross of $96.63 million and is set to reach the $100 million domestic milestone in the coming days.

This weekend's strongest new release was Sony's Colombiana. The action film starring Zoe Saldana opened in second place with an estimated $10.30 million. The film opened towards the lower end of pre-release expectations, which was respectable especially given the impact of Irene on the marketplace. Colombiana opened with $3.74 million on Friday, which gives the film a solid projected three-day weekend to Friday ratio of 2.75 to 1. The film opened 10 percent softer than the $11.42 million start of last year's Machete, but Colombiana will have the advantage of Labor Day weekend falling on its second weekend of release as opposed to its first in that comparison. Colombiana also registered a promising A- CinemaScore rating.

Opening behind Colombiana was FilmDistrict's Don't Be Afraid of the Dark. The R-rated horror film written and produced by Guillermo del Toro took third place with an estimated $8.69 million. Don't Be Afraid of the Dark and Colombiana had been widely expected to be neck and neck coming into the weekend. The film opened 35 percent softer than the $13.27 million start of FilmDistrict's Insidious back in April and shouldn't hold up anywhere near as well going forward, especially given its C- CinemaScore raiting. However, Don't Be Afraid of the Dark could hold up reasonably well for its genre next weekend given the holiday frame and its performance being deflated by Irene this weekend.

The weekend's other new release, The Weinstein Company's Our Idiot Brother, rounded out the top five with an estimated $6.59 million. The R-rated comedy starring Paul Rudd opened a bit below its modest expectations. Online buzz for the film had been picking up a bit in the last few weeks, but that ultimately didn't transfer into ticket sales at the box office this weekend. The odds of strong holding power going forward don't look all that great, as the film generated a C+ rating from CinemaScore. After opening with $2.37 million on Friday, the film registered a projected three-day weekend to Friday ratio of 2.78 to 1.

Fox's Rise of the Planet of the Apes fell 46 percent and two spots this weekend to land in fourth place with an estimated $8.65 million. The science-fiction reboot has now grossed $148.46 million through 24 days of domestic release and is set to clear the $150 million mark in the coming days.

Combined domestic grosses totaled an estimated $91.0 million this weekend. That is 21 percent softer than the $114.7 million combined gross of the weekend before Labor Day last year, which was led by the one-two punch of Sony's Takers and Lionsgate's The Last Exorcism.

Additional reporting by Phil Contrino.

Follow @DanielBOXOFFICE on Twitter for additional box office updates.

Tags: The Help, Don't Be Afraid of the Dark, Colombiana, Our Idiot Brother, Rise of the Planet of the Apes
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