Friday Report: 'Help' Rules as New Movies Flop

by Brandon Gray
The Help

August 20, 2011

On Friday, it was a box-office bloodbath for Conan the Barbarian and Fright Night among others. Between the weak new releases and a strong hold, The Help climbed to the top spot, while Rise of the Planet of the Apes took second.

The Help eased 24 percent Friday-to-Friday to an estimated $5.8 million, lifting its total to $57.1 million in ten days. It marked the first time since early January that a movie has risen to No. 1 after previously debuting lower. The last instance was True Grit, but the more thematically comparable The Blind Side also did it. The Help has dusted Julie & Julia and Eat Pray Love, the past female-driven August book adaptations that inspired its release, by a wide margin.

It was business as usual for Rise of the Planet of the Apes, which extended its lead over most past comparable titles, including X-Men: First Class and G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, and continued to hold much better than Planet of the Apes (2001). Rise dipped 43 percent to an estimated $4.65 million, growing its sum to $122.1 million in 15 days.

Spy Kids: All the Time in the World was the top-grossing new release, but it mustered just $4 million on approximately 4,400 screens at 3,295 locations. It's the worst-performing Spy Kids movie by far, grossing less than a third of the last one, Spy Kids 3D: Game Over (and trailed even further in attendance). It even fell short of Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore from last summer. Spy Kids 4's run included 3D presentations at nearly 1,350 locations, and they accounted for 46 percent of the gross.

Conan the Barbarian went the way of past August fantasy/ancient action movies and flopped hard. Joining the ranks of Kull the Conqueror and The Last Legion and earning less interest than even The 13th Warrior, Conan reaped an estimated $3.7 million on around 4,500 screens at 3,015 locations. It's a far cry from the 1982 Conan, let alone The Beastmaster. The Conan remake's director, Marcus Nispel, was also responsible for the similar dud Pathfinder. With roughly 2,100 locations, 3D was 62 percent of Conan's take.

Fellow 1980s redux Fright Night was even less attractive than Conan, and, while it didn't carry the same blockbuster burden as Conan, it was backed by a more aggressive marketing campaign. Fright Night drew an estimated $3.05 million (including Thursday night previews) on close to 4,600 screens at 3,114 locations, which was low even by the modest standards of unromantic vampire movies. It was worse than Priest and Vampires Suck from the same weekend last year and grossed a fraction of its Disturbia inspiration. It was more comparable to such failures as Jennifer's Body and The Hitcher remake. Included in Fright Night's run were 3D presentations at 2,220 locations, and they made up 64 percent of the gross.

Meanwhile, One Day was largely ignored with an estimated $1.86 million debut at 1,719 single-screen locations, ranking ninth, and Final Destination 5 saved no face, tumbling 67 percent just like its predecessor and grossing an estimated $2.4 million for an anemic $27.1 million eight-day tally.

Related Stories:
Forecast: 'Conan' and Company Unlikely to Slay Audiences
Ad Fidelity: 'Conan the Barbarian'
Ad Fidelity: 'Fright Night'

Related Charts:
Grosses for Friday, August 19, 2011
Showdown: 'Apes' Vs. Comps

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