Friday Report: 'Help' Holds Off Hurricane, Newcomers
On Friday, The Help seemed unfazed by Hurricane Irene's approach and the three new nationwide releases Colombiana, Don't Be Afraid of the Dark and Our Idiot Brother. The drama packed an estimated $4.4 million, down just 25 percent from last Friday, lifting its total to $86.7 million in 17 days. The weekend as a whole, though, is poised to be one of the slowest of the year, hurricane or no.

Colombiana was the strongest debut with an estimated $3.75 million on approximately 2,900 screens at 2,614 locations. On the bright side, it improved on the $3.24 million first day of Zoe Saldana's last action turn in the ensemble The Losers as well as producer Luc Besson's last action movie, From Paris with Love ($2.95 million), but it was tepid otherwise.

Don't Be Afraid of the Dark disappointed with an estimated $3.63 million at 2,760 nearly single-screen locations. That was a low debut gross for a supernatural horror movie, and trailed distributor FilmDistrict's previous release Insidious ($4.78 million). In fact, in the past three years, the sub-genre has only seen two worse starts (Case 39 and The Haunting of Molly Hartley).

Our Idiot Brother stumbled into fifth place with an estimated $2.37 million at 2,555 single-screen locations. The opening was worse than The Switch's $2.7 million last August.

Even without a hurricane on the East Coast to contend with, this crop of new releases was always going to be modest at best, though Irene has given Hollywood a convenient excuse. These movies paled compared to the ones on the same Friday last year, The Last Exorcism and Takers, which respectively drew $9.4 million and $7.5 million.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes ranked fourth with an estimated $2.6 million, seeing a similar Friday-to-Friday drop as last week (44 percent). Its total climbed to $142.4 million in 22 days.

Last weekend's flops showed no traction. Spy Kids: All the Time in the World tumbled 60 percent to an estimated $1.6 million for a paltry $17.6 million sum in eight days. Fright Night bled 64 percent to an estimated $971,000 for an anemic $12.2 million tally in eight days. Conan the Barbarian crumbled 75 percent to an estimated $930,000, mustering just $14.4 million in eight days.

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Related Chart:

• Grosses for Friday, August 26, 2011