The Help fell just 23 percent in its second weekend of release to claim the top spot at the box office this weekend with $20.02 million. The modestly budgeted Disney released DreamWorks film continued to benefit from strong word of mouth and from the poor starts of this weekend's four new wide releases as a whole. The twelve-day start for The Help now stands at a very impressive $71.34 million. That places the film 52 percent ahead of the pace of 2009's Julie & Julia, which fell 40 percent in its second weekend. Given the degree of the film's positive word of mouth, its strength in rural areas and the lackluster line-up of new wide releases next weekend, The Help will have legitimate chances of topping the domestic box office each of the next two weekends.
Fox's Rise of the Planet of the Apes stabilized nicely this weekend to take second place with $16.12 million. The well received science-fiction reboot fell one spot and 42 percent from last weekend's first place performance. Rise of the Planet of the Apes has already demolished expectations with a 17-day start of $133.58 million and should continue to stabilize throughout the last two weeks of the summer box office season. Internationally, Rise of the Planet of the Apes grossed $29.8 million from 48 markets this weekend. That places the film's international total at $124.1 million and worldwide total at $257.6 million.
While it isn't saying much, this weekend's top performance among four new wide releases was that of The Weinstein Company's Spy Kids: All the Time in the World. The 3D family film sequel opened below its modest expectations with a third place debut of $11.64 million. The Robert Rodriguez directed film opened less along the lines of a Spy Kids film and more along the lines of the $12.58 million start of 2005's The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl. With a limited amount of family fare entering the marketplace in the near future, Spy Kids: All the Time in the World will hope to hold up well going forward.
Lionsgate's Conan the Barbarian was off to a disastrous fourth place start of just $10.02 million. The attempted relaunch of the Conan the Barbarian property carried a $90 million production budget, though it should be noted that Lionsgate wasn't involved in the production of the film. With the aid of 29 years of ticket price inflation, Conan the Barbarian still barely outpaced the $9.60 million start of 1982's Conan the Barbarian (that film's adjusted debut now stands at $26.0 million). Given the likely rush-out of the film's built-in fanbase, expect Conan the Barbarian to fade away very quickly from theatres.
Also failing to meet expectations this weekend was horror remake Fright Night. The Disney released DreamWorks film had to settle for fifth place with $8.11 million. Like Conan the Barbarian, Fright Night also barely out-paced the unadjusted start of its predecessor. The original Fright Night opened with $6.12 million back in 1985, a figure which stands at $13.7 million when taking into account ticket price inflation. While it lost out to Conan the Barbarian this weekend, it should also be noted that Fright Night was produced for a fraction of the cost of Conan the Barbarian.
With all three of this weekend's major releases failing to meet relatively modest pre-release expectations, moviegoers clearly sent a negative message with their wallets this weekend when it comes to mid-level films released in 3D.
This weekend's other wide release, Focus' One Day, opened in ninth with a so-so $5.08 million. The romantic drama starring Anne Hathaway opened on the lower end of its modest expectations and was also by far the least expensive of this weekend's four wide releases. There is little doubt that box office potential for One Day was severely limited by the break-out success of The Help.
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