Box office update: 'The Help' opens to $5.5 mil on Wednesday and lands a rare A+ from CinemaScore


Image Credit: Dale Robinette

The Help debuted Wednesday and led the box office with a solid $5.5 million. Disney and DreamWorks’ $25 million drama, based on Kathryn Stockett’s bestselling novel and starring Viola Davis, Emma Stone, Octavia Spencer, and Bryce Dallas Howard, was released on Wednesday to help build buzz heading into the weekend. That strategy should work out well, as The Help has received a rare “A+” grade from CinemaScore audiences, indicating that the PG-13 movie should benefit from excellent word of mouth.

On average, only two movies per year garner an “A+” rating from CinemaScore, a market-research firm that surveys moviegoers on a picture’s opening day. Since 2004, just 15 films have scored an “A+” grade. They are, in chronological order: The Passion of the Christ, Ray, The Incredibles, The Polar Express, Diary of a Mad Black Woman, Cinderella Man, Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Akeelah and the Bee, Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married?, Up, The Blind Side, Tangled, Soul Surfer, and now The Help.

CinemaScore ratings, however, sometimes have to be taken with a grain of salt. After all, the moviegoers who rush out to see a new film on its opening day are likely predisposed to enjoy that particular film. It’s probably safe to assume that many of the CinemaScore graders for The Help were already big fans of the novel, and it’ll be interesting to see whether their enthusiasm spreads to those unfamiliar with the book.

Regardless, The Help has started its theatrical journey strongly and has the potential to become a real late-summer hit. Check back later today for EW’s weekend box-office predictions.

Comments (49 total) Add your comment
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  • Joan

    This will be one of those late Summer female-fueled hits, a la “Soul Food,” “Eat Pray Love,” “Julie & Julia,” and “How Stella got her Groove Back.”

    • neng

      Everyone is commenting on the quality of the movies of the list- as if every person who went to see any of the “African American movies” doesn’t have half a mind to know what is quality or not. Stop being self- righteous! Argh… so frustrating.I am an Air Force and single at present .I need a woman who can love me back ..I also uploaded my hot photos on M’ilitaryloves .C óM under the name of cnuaw22..It’s the largest and best club for seeking Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Police Force, and the admirers of those who wear the uniform.I just hope you don’t mind me being a soldier …Please Check it out!I’m serious.

  • Ryan

    There are some really lousy movies on that A+ list (and of course some great ones). As a whole, after seeing that list, I think that this A+ makes me LESS likely to see this movie, not more likely. Not that I was terribly interested to see it anyway.

    • PJ


    • Nathan

      Wow right up there with Polar Express and Tyler Perry movies, well now I’ll be sure to miss this one.

    • Liz Lemon

      I haven’t been remotely interested in this film and I think a lot of it has to do with the marketing and the trailers.
      They make it seem like some cheesy comedy and not a serious film.
      I think most of the people who will see it are people who read the book.

      • Bonnie

        I did not read the book yet and saw the movie yesterday because another movie was sold out. I am so happy I did. The movie was great—a mix of serious movie with lighter moments. Had they marketed this as super serious movie, I probably wouldn’t have seen it because while I’ll read serious books that are not always uplifting, I don’t want to be depressed when I go to the movies. This movie was inspirational without being self-righteous. I loved it.

  • Jeff

    That list of A+ earners doesn’t exactly give me faith in the value of earing that elusive rating. There are some very average movies there.

    • Empress

      Could it be because about half the list is comprised of movies with black leads? Hmmmm.

      I’m not sayin he’s a racist…

      • Captain

        I don’t think that’s the case at all. Many of the movies I sneered at didn’t have black leads. Soul Surfer? Really?

      • Regina George

        I’m not exactly sure at how Soul Surfer found its way onto this list. Same with the Polar Express. And, really, if Tangled and Up are here, then why not Toy Story 3? CinemaScore is sometimes a bit odd, but it is a good way to see if a film’s going to get good word of mouth. In the Help’s case, it’s obviously going to get great word of mouth, which makes the Wednesday release date a smart move.

  • Harriet

    The Help is an A+ movie. The cast is outstanding. Olivia Spencer, Viola Davis & Emma Stone should be nominated for Academy Awards. Viola Davis’ performance was touching. A+++

  • Gregoire

    So ‘uplifting’ movies get A+. However two thirds of those films are genuine crap.

    • Yuta

      got up early this am for the run, and was shooting for the S&C this foetrnaon (which didn’t materialize). Really feeling the affects of having little sleep with sick kids, and starting to get sick myself.Rd’s 1+2: 10.5mph/1% incline = 3:33/3:34Rd3: is where I lost it and totally bonked, had to back off the 10.5. kept the incline @ 1% though 4:05Rd 4+5: 9mph/1% incline = 4:08.Bringing the bike to work tomorrow with the trainer. Will try to get the S&C from today done tomorrow as well.joey

  • Dave

    There are only about 3 movies from that list that truly deserve an A+ grade.

    • Woot

      The Incredibles, Up and…. this is the wild card but I’ll guess either Ray, Cinderella Man or Tangled?

    • Nehal

      hi i just wondered wen you make the order and pay the pasgote and then wen u pay by card after 14 days do they take another payment out of your bank as a lot of slimming websites do this one u order free trial,, after 14 days they auto take the next payment out of your bank till u cancel this just wondered if this was the same thanks x

  • me,Baby,ME

    The A+ rating isn’t very accurate in accounting for the aggregate perceived quality of any film within an entire populous, but rather, more effective in determining the perceived quality of a particular film within the narrow demographic population that said film seeks to attract. This is the reason that Tyler Perry films, for one example, appear on this list, despite being disdained by a great number of movie-goers who find his work to be indicative of the type of racial stereotyping that viewers don’t need fed to them under the guise of harmless and placid situational comedy. In short, these movies are rated this way because CinemaScore only takes into the account the amount of satisfaction of people who willingly pay to watch these films, rather than critics, who are often removed from the bias having paid a particular alloted amount to a business in hopes of having a satisfactory return, often, but not always in the form of pleasure. CinemaScore, in effect, explains the amount of pleasure that audiences who desired to see the film received in perceived exchange for their hard-earned mutha-effin’ dough… I think…

    • Tommy

      Well, said me,Baby,ME. Cinemascore only takes into account those who were willing to dish out the money to see films in the first place. Tyler Perry’s films are rubbish, but he does have a loyal following (for some odd reason), so if that following are the only ones who see his film, then of course it can get an A+ rating. Those of us who would give the film an F just won’t see it and so the rating is unaffected.

    • Squishmar

      Very well put! I was going to phrase it much less eloquently… something like it appears that predominantly black and/or Christian audiences are full of hyperbole. ;)

      • Squishmar

        Oh, and kids too.

    • Empress

      Why the hate? Doesn’t matter that the audience is self-selecting… they enjoyed the movie enough to give is an A+ and that’s all that matters. I wish I went into every movie that fits my demographic and could rate it an A+

      • Squishmar

        I think a lot of it has to do with the demographics mentioned (except for kids, who maybe just aren’t as discerning) being notoriously underserved when it comes to films being made for them. So when they finally get something–anything–they’ll extol its virtues simply because they’re grateful to see it at all.

      • me,Baby,ME

        If you read my words closely, you will see that did not necessarily express an opinion, but rather stated a series of facts resulting from the CinemaScore rating process. Even though I mentioned Perry’s films as an example of movies that receive high CinemaScore marks despite the very large possibility that a portion of the population is physically and emotionally sickened by Perry’s films and television programs………That being said, I really do hate them. The parts I’ve seen, at least.

      • me,Baby,ME

        “that I** did not necessarily”… It really does suck to think that I can write complex and varied sentences of multiple structures that express some sort of depth of thought, but am constantly feeling the urge to correct any mistake I make, for whatever reason, just because I know that some small person will take that typographic error and blow it out of proportion so as to render my entire argument moot… I think I care too much…

      • Tarc

        Obviously it matters a great deal if any group polled for any reason is self-selecting: it completely invalidates the poll as a objective measure. Duh.

  • Beauty

    I saw it and it was definitely A+++++++, stop listening to critics and go see this great film for yourself, you won’t be disappointed! I expect multiple Oscar nominations from this film. Viola ESPECIALLY better get one.

  • Empress

    Everyone is commenting on the quality of the movies of the list- as if every person who went to see any of the “African American movies” doesn’t have half a mind to know what is quality or not. Stop being self- righteous! Argh… so frustrating.

    • Captain

      You are taking this race thing too far. I’m white and I really want to see the help. I think The Blind Side, Ray and Akeelah and the Bee are all great movies. I’m not a fan of Tyler Perry’s work but he clearly has a loyal following. This has nothing to do with the race of the people polled. Soul Surfer, Cinderella Man, Polar Expresss are all mediocre films as well.

      • Empress

        Right… according to you. According to everyone else who saw the movie, they were A+.

    • Brenda

      Please get off the race card. We love the movie and the book! This is coming from a white fan of good movies. Color just doesn’t matter. let it go, please.

      • LadyJNewYork

        Thank you, Brenda!!

  • Sith Lord J

    At least in this movie the African American characters aren’t portraited as shallow and greedy and end up in a crashed heilcopter that kicked off a bridge.

    • Rachel Maddow’s Future Husband

      First of all what does “portraited” mean. Also, the black characters aren’t portrayed as shallow and greedy but they are for the most part treated like they need this young white girl to fight for them. Another one of these strong white people save helpless black people type of movies. This movie also has too much in common with The Human Centipede to be enjoyable.

      • Sith Lord J

        That was the black character in Rise of the Apes that was shallow and greedy.

      • Bridges

        I have read the book. I didn’t love it as much as some people but I thought it was pretty good. In my opinion, the maids aren’t portrayed like they need help from “some young white girl to fight for them.” I thought that it was clear that they were putting much at risk to even talk to the girl, and I thought the maids were quite brave. Skeeter (white girl) was somewhat selfish. Just my two cents.
        Have you seen the movie/read the book?

  • Chicken Louie

    Wow…. African American people love dey movies.

  • Mya

    With so many racists, bigots, maggots, pedophiles, cowards, and other lowlifes prowling EW at all hours of the night, and seven days a week, it’s so heartwarming to see that America is not a reflection of the biased, mean spirited individuals that you see weighing in on this and other entertainment sites.

    • Tarc

      Welcome to America, Mya. And be careful of throwing stones…

  • Mya

    America loves THE HELP!

  • bobbyv

    The Help was terrific..but I see what John means about the cinematic scores…Polar Express, Passion of Christ, that surfer film, and those horrible Tyler Perry movies all got an a+!!?? Well from the attendence at a Dallas indie theater, this movie is one of the rare fims with a very racially mixed cast that is appealing to a diverse group..the audience was racially, genderally, and culturally mixed …so I think it’s score is a little more valid.

  • CJ

    There were so many great performances in this movie. I think Bryce Dallas Howard should get an oscar nom too. She is the villain so I doubt that will happen, but she blew me away with her performance in a very difficult part to play.

    • Ale

      I can appreciate great wriintg when I read it. This is truly great wriintg. You make valid and interesting points that you have presented in a unique way. This is an excellent high quality article.

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