Three new wide releases and Hurricane Irene couldn't stop The Help this weekend.

‘The Help Leads Hurricane Weakened Box Office

on August 29, 2011 by Daniel Garris

An already slow frame at the box office was no doubt weakened even further by the presence of Hurricane Irene on the East Coast this weekend. The marketplace in general was clearly affected by Irene, 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 $14.54 million to claim first place for a second straight weekend. The Help fell just 27 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 $96.83 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 $10.41 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 $3.73 million on Friday, which gave the film a solid three-day weekend to Friday ratio of 2.79 to 1. The film opened 9 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.

Fox's Rise of the Planet of the Apes fell 45 percent and one spots this weekend to land in third place with $8.87 million. The science-fiction reboot has now grossed $148.67 million through 24 days of domestic release and is set to clear the $150 million mark in the coming days. Internationally, Rise of the Planet of the Apes grossed $22.17 million this weekend. That places the film's international total at $158.7 million and worldwide total at $307.4 million.

FilmDistrict's Don't Be Afraid of the Dark opened in fourth with $8.53 million. The R-rated horror film written and produced by Guillermo del Toro opened a bit softer than expected, as it had been widely expected to be neck and neck with Colombiana coming into the weekend. Don't Be Afraid of the Dark opened 36 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 $7.01 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 either, as the film generated a C+ rating from CinemaScore. However, after opening with $2.39 million on Friday, the film registered a respectable three-day weekend to Friday ratio of 2.93 to 1.

Combined domestic grosses totaled $93.2 million this weekend. That is 19 percent softer than the $114.7 million combined gross of the weekend before Labor Day weekend 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: Our Idiot Brother, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Don't Be Afraid of the Dark, Colombiana, The Help

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