Box office report: 'The Help' withstands Hurricane Irene to win slow weekend with $14.3 mil


Image Credit: Dale Robinette

In what may be the lowest grossing weekend of the year, The Help finished in first place for the second week in a row with $14.3 million, according to studio estimates. The PG-13 drama dropped only 28 percent — a particularly impressive hold considering that this weekend also marked the debut of Hurricane Irene, which was downgraded to a tropical storm as it made its way through New York City and New England. The Help, which cost $25 million to produce and has so far earned $96.6 million, should cross the $100 million mark by Wednesday.

But while The Help managed to withstand Mother Nature, the overall market took a beating. According to the box office reporting service Rentrak, as many as 1,000 theaters closed at some point during the weekend due to Irene. AMC Theatres, for instance, shut down all of its theaters in New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C.

“Our key large urban East Coast markets were really killed and many theaters closed or were dead even if they remained open,” said FilmDistrict exec Bob Berney in a statement, whose studio released the horror flick Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark. “The E-Walk on 42nd Street in Manhattan gross was $20,800 on Friday and $0 on Saturday.” The weekend box office was down an estimated 23 percent from last year, and is running neck and neck with Super Bowl weekend (Feb. 4-6) as the slowest of the year. (It’s too early to say which weekend will claim the dubious title.)

The new action movie Colombiana took second place with $10.3 million. Starring Avatar‘s Zoe Saldana as a revenge-seeking assassin, the PG-13 film skewed female (57 percent of the audience) and older (65 percent was 25 and up). Colombiana fell a bit short of such recent assassin pictures as Hanna ($12.4 million), The Mechanic ($11.4 million), and Machete ($11.4 million). But audiences enjoyed the TriStar release, with CinemaScore moviegoers handing the film a solid “A-” grade.

That wasn’t the case for FilmDistrict’s Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, which debuted in third place with $8.7 million but received a harsh “C-” rating from CinemaScore participants. At least the movie opened stronger than last week’s horror-remake clunker Fright Night ($7.7 million). Dark, a remake of the 1973 made-for-TV film of the same name, was co-written and produced by Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth) and starred Katie Holmes and Guy Pearce. According to CinemaScore, the R-rated movie attracted a crowd that was 52 percent under the age of 25.

The week’s third new release, the R-rated comedy Our Idiot Brother, mustered only $6.6 million — enough for fifth place. Luckily the film, which stars Paul Rudd as the naive brother of Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel, and Emily Mortimer, wasn’t an expensive undertaking. Brother cost $5 million to produce, and the Weinstein Company, which picked up the movie at Sundance for $6 million, has already covered its acquisition costs through foreign-market presales. According to the studio, 70 percent of the film’s audience was at least 25 years old. And CinemaScore graders weren’t too amused, giving Brother a tepid “C+” rating.

Among holdovers, Rise of the Planet of the Apes continued its admirably slow decline, falling a mild 46 percent for $8.7 million and pushing its cumulative tally to $148.5 million. It practically tied Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark for third place — we’ll know which movie finished on top by Monday. Check back next weekend for even more horror fare with Apollo 18 and Shark Night 3D, plus the long-delayed thriller remake The Debt, which opens on Wednesday.

1. The Help — $14.3 mil
2. Colombiana — $10.3 mil
3. Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark — $8.69 mil
4. Rise of the Planet of the Apes — $8.65 mil
5. Our Idiot Brother — $6.6 mil

Comments (93 total) Add your comment
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  • LOL

    America loves crap.

    • Yeah, it’s pretty much lost its power dude.

      Although your statement never made any sense anyway.

      • LOL

        Speaking truth doesn’t always make you popular. I don’t say it for any feeling of power or some such nonsense. I say it because it must be said, my fellow Americans need my tough love. I applauded them when they made a marvelous film like Fast Five number one, and will again if they choose substance over style again. If they stop going to these dreadful movies, Hollywood will have no choice but to make more entertaining and thought provoking films like Fast Five. America, it’s up to you.

      • daisy

        LOL, we get that you like fast five, but guess what. it isnt playing anymore. You expect everyone on the planet to watch only one move forever? Your are a fruit loop. I think you need serious medication… mostly because Fast Five was a stupid movie only enjoyed by crazy people and Vin Diesel fans … oh wait, same thing.

      • LOL

        *sigh* No daisy, I don’t expect people to go see a movie that isn’t playing. Read this slowly so you will understand. If there are no good films out, just don’t go to one, stay home and spend time with your family, rent a good film, read a book. If people didn’t go to see these insipid movies, Hollywood would have no choice but to make more quality films like Fast Five. Even one of EW’s own critics recognized the brilliance of Fast Five and correctly called it a “pitch perfect” film. Fast Five was like a master’s class in filmmaking. Now, I don’t expect every movie to be as good, films like Fast Five only come around once or twice a generation, but even half as good would be fantastic. America, if there aren’t any good films out, stay home, Hollywood will get the message.

      • dipshat

        I have a cooler name than LOL.

      • amendli2az

        For seeking Interr-acial Love , i think i have the best choice
        –HoTβlαckwhitе. СòM –it’s where to- me-et bla-ck, whit-e, gorgeous, bea-utiful for rom-ance and- enduring relation-ship-s ! – it’s the best place for s”eeking int’erracial lo-ve.which gives you a chance to make your life better and open opportunities for you to me-et the at’tractive s’ingles and treat you like a king or Queen. Maybe you wanna check it out or tell your frie-nds.

        I hope that I can stop saying it soon, I would love to be able to praise America. But that’s up to them.

    • Anti-LOL

      LOL is crap. You are the only thing more repetitive than constant Hollywood sequels, more crass than the worst Hollywood low brow humour, and more predictable than the most formulaic Hollywood plot. If you think you are adding anything useful to the EW debates you are sorely mistaken. Please stop your useless comments.

      • LOL

        I wish I didn’t have to say it, but it is my duty to speak truth to power. I was delighted when a film like Fast Five was number one, I hoped that America was finally embracing quality, thought provoking films. They then proceeded to reward mediocrity. I hope that I can stop saying it soon, I would love to be able to praise America. But that’s up to them.

      • Sarah

        Yes, LOL, because a movie about cars that is the fifth entry in the franchise is the best movie in the world. I would understand if you were comparing everything at the box office to like Gone With the Wind or Psycho; but no, you are comparing to some stupid Vin Deisel movie.

      • LOL

        Sarah, I have never said Fast Five is the best film in the world. It is certainly the best film of this century, and perhaps of the last 50 years, but there are films that are as good or better out there, I don’t deny that. It is not even the central point, I don’t expect movies to live up such, as an EW critic put it, a “pitch perfect” film. But there should be some standards, I merely mention Fast Five because it is a recent example, which proves Hollywood is capable of better if they really try. Hopefully a day will come when I can praise America for its taste, I look forward to that day.

      • LOL Loves Crap

        LOL thinks Fast FIve is the best film of this century…LOL

      • Regina George

        Um, hello, idiots, he’s being sarcastic. We love you LOL!

      • MesoSoup

        Just ignore LOL – i always do

      • Micks

        I don’t know, I think he means it. I mean, would anybody really stick with a joke this long?

    • Michael

      I’m onto you, LOL. You’re game is just to get people’s goat. You merely post your little “America loves crap” adage, appearing to be making some profound comment on 21st century culture, but really, you’re simply out there to irritate EW readers. And you’re not even some Fast Five lover, as many may believe, you just picked that film out of the proverbial hat as an arbitrary choice to reference and re-reference time and time again, as the only movie that’s good or worth seeing, but really, (as any authentic movie critic or movie lover will tell you, the entire Fast and Furious series is pure popcorn garbage), but that’s not even the point. The point is that you are garbage. You have taken it upon yourself to be that irritating mosquito that feasts on everyone’s flesh, causing an unending annoyance, and for the most part, it has worked. So bravo. But please, for the love of God, now that you have accomplished your mission, and all that bravado is out in the open, GO AWAY, and NEVER post another word on this website. Not because you’ve gotten under my skin, (I don’t give a crap about you), but simply because your act is transparent, and frankly I and everyone else is so incredibly sick of it.

      • Manny


    • STFU

      I’m confused. Fast Five wasn’t a good enough movie to deserve all the praise you give it yet, it wasn’t bad enough to deserve such sarcasm. I found it to be a fun but forgettable action flick, nothing more. Have you seen anything else? Just curious

    • LOL Loves Crap

      LOL loves Falling Skies….LOL

    • mac

      LOL is my role model!!!! Don’t give up the fight brother.

    • Shashank

      Good to see that the smarter segment of EW has stopped taking LOL seriously

      • Socorro

        I don’t dislike facservine as long as there is a reason why it’s there.When Shinji sees Rei naked in her appartment in 1.11, the scene shows the audience she lacks emotions. It is completely opposite of what happens when he sees Asuka naked in 2.22, that scene demonstrates to the audience that Asuka is nothing but emotions.The scene with Asuka in the experimental plugsuit was the only thing about 2.22 I disliked. It was completely unnecessary, and I felt it’s sole purpose was for selling merchandise.

    • A16

      Hate to tell you, LOL, but the number one movie overseas was THE SMURFS followed by RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES and FINAL DESTINATION 5 (APES and FD5 were both fun while APES was a great movie). So you’re claim that “America loves crap” is pure crap. The #1 movie in America is a movie that’s being called a 4 star film and one of the best of the summer (I haven’t seen it yet, so I personally can’t comment), while the #1 movie overseas is THE SMURF?!?! Grow the hell up.

      • LOL

        I am not concerned with what is number one overseas. As an American, I want my country to have higher standards.

    • kyle

      You’re more played out than Gaga and her outfits.

      • m

        oh, snap!

      • LOL

        And who or what is “Gaga?” Some more crap America loves no doubt.

  • Dominic

    Can anyone tell me if Our Idiot Brother is funny and worth seeing?

    • Justin

      I saw it today. I think it’s funny and worth seeing. The movie has a good flow the entire time.

    • kyle

      its not as good as Little Miss Sunshine but its still very funny.

    • Asha

      It was worth seeing! It wasn’t incredibly laugh out loud funny but it was a nice flick. Definitely worth a trip!

      • Dominic

        Okay, thanks guys!

    • A16

      I saw it a couple weeks back. It’s not very good. There was no flow to it and the editing was awful. I’ve been a Paul Rudd fan since seeing CLUELESS in the theaters and have loved pretty much everything he’s done since. The cast is great, but the movie is a total miss. The jokes fall flat and it’s not a very funny movie. That’s my opinion, but you might like it.

  • Mcfly

    What the hell does Hurricane Irene have to do with the box office? Most of the country wasn’t even effected by it. You think only people on the northeast coast go to movies?

    • Jack

      You’re an idiot

      • Mcfly

        Beyond the East Coast there is a thing called the rest of the USA. They go to movies too even when you all are getting an overly hyped rainstorm.

    • Mike

      No, but the East Coast from NC past NY were shut down for parts of the weekend, which would affect box office, since millions of people who might have otherwise gone to the movies didn’t.

      • Mcfly

        Millions? Really? Millions? You know this how?

      • Tess

        They estimated some 65 million people were in the path of the storm…surely some portion however small would have preferred to go to a movie this weekend to being holed up in a shelter or hunkered down in their homes praying the rain will stop before it gets in their house or takes down trees and power lines around them. So yeah, Mike’s statement was a fair assessment.

    • watcher

      McFly…the East Coast comprises a substantial share of the market: Boston, NY, Philly, and DC alone have more movie screens than all of the midwest. So yes, the Hurricane has a lot to do with the box office, considering the entire east coast was on lock down this entire weekend.

      • Mcfly

        Is that right. You know for a fact about the amount of movie theatres in those cities compared to the midwest? Really? Are you making this crap up out of the air? East Coast wussbags.

    • Sprague

      I thoroughly enjoyed Colombiana, it reminded me at times of The Professional and Taken; it had a more developed storyline than Banlieu 13 but like Taken it has tons of action to go with the story. The sharks were like vintage Bond.

    • Amy

      The majority of the east coast was at least partly affected by the hurricane. It comprises a pretty large portion of the country, so it would be reasonable to expect lower movie attendance. But I doubt it had a huge impact, especially since by the time it reached the more northern states, it had somewhat died down.

    • Julie

      Like it or not, the east coast is more densely populated than any other part of the country except California. It’s just a fact.

  • me

    Who shives a git?

  • outside agitator

    I live out west and had no desire to see any movie released this weekend. what a diaperload. the previews for Katie Holmes’ movie looked preposterous. Paul Rudd has been playing the same role for almost 20 years. (maybe he was a different character in Halloween 8) and a chick with guns flick makes me go narcoleptic.

  • Robert

    Boston, New York, Washington D.C., Baltimore, all of Florida…No the hurricane did not affect most of the country, but it affected a very large percentage of major cities and ask the production companies what the loss of an entire coast of business does for their bottom line.

  • Del Taco

    box office heats up next weekend with Shark Night 3D : prediciton :$ 85 million by this time next week. I have psychic powers. Bet the ranch. Thank me later. and LOL can set the record for having posted “America Loves Crap” 200 times in a row.

    • Joe

      People have been camped out in front of theaters nationwide for Shark Night 3D for weeks.

      I fully expect box office records to be shattered. Shark Night 4D (in Aromascope) will be greenlit by Saturday.

    • Manny

      I heard it’s even better than Fast 5! Undoubtedly, those two masterpieces will be duelling it out come Academy Awards time. Vin Diesel’s lock as Best Actor could be jeopardized by one of the sharks.

      • Thi

        Here is a comment from Kevin T. Doyle (non-member)Am tnryig to locate current owner of my Tartan 34C Midwatch Hull No. 215 Last known location was @ your LYC and owners were Carol Cassidy & Jack Waddell. I was the owner for the first 23/years & have much info on its journey & many pictures etc to share with the current owners e.g. an orig copy of the christening invitation for 125 people @ Plymouth Rock, Plymouth, Massachusetts. Also, pictures of the construction phase at Tartan Marine, Grand River, OH. Many of these items should accompany the vessel.Sincerely, Kevin T. Doyle (781) 826 3712 (Owner: Select Grahics)Kevin T. Doyle (Orig owner of VIXEN )0

    • Ha

      I love the end of that trailer when the VoiceOver guy says ‘Shark Night 3D!!! Also in 2D’. Cracks me up every time.

  • fbdbpw

    Dont be afraid of the dark was absolutely horrible the script was lazy and the film didnt event try to be scary not to mention the horrible ending

    • Gerry

      It had so much promise too. Loved the atmosphere. But I hate the horror movie trope of having the characters making stupid, stupid decisions and this movie suffered from that.

  • Book-Brain

    GO APES!

  • purewitz

    This proves it. American will pat money to watch crap. Conan The Barbarian and Rise of the Planet of the Apes are both ten times better than this waste of time and money. The Help seem so fake and not genuine at all.

    • daisy

      whereas Conan seems totally genuine. Moron

  • tipsy

    Gremlins 3 aka that Katie Holmes horror get R rating to fool people into thinking it`s actually scary. Lol. This gotta be the first horror movie with the body count of 1 that got that rating. And, yes, it`s a total Gremlins rip off. And, no, Katie Holmes is no star no matter what all those magazines forcing her private life on us want you to believe.

  • Aj

    This is The Help’s third weekend at number 1. EW is weird for not knowing that.

    • Radzinsky

      Nope. It’s the second weekend.

    • Dave

      Nope, only the second weekend at #1. It’s debut weekend, it came in at #2.

      • Aj

        You’re right. Sorry, EW.

  • Joe

    Wow, Conan and Fright Night just fell off the face of the Earth.

    Haven’t seen Conan, but I know why Fright Night failed: they made the lead a douche, Evil Ed’s name made no sense in this version, they had a magician who not once performed a magic trick (this might have helped against fighting vampires), and the lead girl’s name was Imogen Poots. Poots! No way was your movie going to be successful when the lead gal’s got a silly name like that.

  • kyle

    Fright Night deserves better so does Idiot Brother which looked really funny

    • kyle

      I meant to say it was really funny

    • Amy

      I agree. I haven’t seen My Idiot Brother, but I saw Fright Night and it was so much more enjoyable than it had any right to be. I think a large part of that was the cast, which made the otherwise campy movie feel more grounded.

  • scytherius

    A decently made BORING movie that is fluffy in a decidedly non-fluffy time. But, well, that’s America I suppose.

    • schooner

      fluffy? It is about the deep seeded racism in the south, which still exists today. yeah, real fluff piece.

      • Pittner

        schooner = Idiot

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