In a crowded field that featured four new movies, last week’s winner, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, managed to keep its top spot on the box-office chain by recruiting $27.5 million. Fox’s sci-fi action film dropped 50 percent in its second weekend. That’s a decent hold, as most summer action flicks decline 55 to 60 percent. Apes will cross the $100 million mark today and has already surpassed its relatively modest $90 million production budget. As a result, it’s looking likely that we’ll be seeing more of Caesar the chimpanzee (and less of the human race) in the future.
Not far behind was The Help, which surprised the industry with a substantial $25.5 million. Disney released the PG-13 drama on Wednesday in an attempt to build buzz heading into the weekend. That strategy seems to have paid off. The Help, based on Kathryn Stockett’s bestselling novel and starring Viola Davis, Emma Stone, Octavia Spencer, and Bryce Dallas Howard, grossed a combined $9.9 million on Wednesday and Thursday — boosting its five-day total to $35.4 million. It also garnered a rare A+ rating from CinemaScore audiences, which means the film should be benefiting from exceptional word of mouth. Adult women were the driving force behind the $25 million movie’s success this weekend. According to Disney, 74 percent of the audience was female and 60 percent was over the age of 35.
The Help may have won the weekend had it not been released early, but I doubt Disney is regretting its decision. Even without its additional revenue from Wednesday and Thursday, the movie opened stronger than both Eat Pray Love ($23.1 million) and Julie & Julia ($20 million) — two prior August releases that were also big hits with female moviegoers. If The Help‘s word of mouth is as flattering as CinemaScore says it is, the picture could very well become a $100 million smash.
Third place went to Warner Bros.’ Final Destination 5 with $18.4 million. That’s a considerable drop from the last Destination movie, 2009′s The Final Destination, which debuted to $27.4 million. Still, Final Destination 5 cost only $40 million to produce and received a fairly good B+ grade from CinemaScore viewers. One thing worth noting is that 75 percent of the film’s opening came from 3-D theaters, indicating that audiences will still pay for 3-D when they believe the movie warrants the extra dimension. Apparently Death is even more frightening while wearing glasses.
Sony’s dark comedy 30 Minutes or Less debuted in fifth with a middling $13 million. Ever since The Hangover Part II was released in late May, every new R-rated comedy has opened to a smaller amount than the one before it. 30 Minutes or Less continued the trend by falling short of last week’s The Change-Up, which mustered $13.5 million. Perhaps American audiences are starting to tire of raunchy comedies. CinemaScore audiences handed 30 Minutes or Less, which stars Jesse Eisenberg and Aziz Ansari, a merely okay B rating. The $28 million movie particularly appealed to young men, with 58 percent of its audience male and 69 percent under the age of 25.
And in 11th place was the week’s fourth new release, Glee: The 3D Concert Movie, which earned a paltry $5.7 million. The Fox movie was extremely front-loaded, falling 37 percent from Friday to Saturday. Those who paid to see the New Directions on the big screen were mostly young women. According to CinemaScore, 82 percent of the audience was female, and 66 percent was too young to rent a car. However, the Gleeks liked what they saw, as CinemaScore graders gave it a solid A rating. The PG movie, which cost just $8.5 million to produce, is currently playing in only 3-D theaters during its exclusive two-week run.
Among holdovers, The Smurfs declined a mere 35 percent for $13.5 million. Like Apes, the movie should cross $100 million today. Check back next week as Hollywood unleashes four more new films: the action remake Conan the Barbarian, the horror remake Fright Night, the romance One Day, and the olfactory assault Spy Kids: All the Time in the World.
1. Rise of the Planet of the Apes — $27.5 mil
2. The Help — $25.5 mil
3. Final Destination 5 — $18.4 mil
4. The Smurfs — $13.5 mil
5. 30 Minutes or Less — $13.0 mil