Weekend Report: No Downgrade for Hurricane 'Help'

by Brandon Gray
The Help

August 29, 2011

The Help seemed relatively unfazed by Hurricane Irene over the weekend, while the three new nationwide releases Colombiana, Don't Be Afraid of the Dark and Our Idiot Brother were blown away. The drama packed $14.5 million, down just 27 percent from last weekend. That lifted its total to $96.8 million in 19 days, surpassing the final gross of Julie & Julia.

The weekend as a whole, though, was the second-slowest of the year so far. With around $93 million overall, it was ahead of only Super Bowl weekend (Feb. 4-6)'s $87.3 million. But business was poised to flounder, hurricane or no.

Colombiana was the most successful debut with $10.4 million on approximately 2,900 screens at 2,614 locations. On the bright side, it improved upon the $9.4 million first weekend 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 ($8.2 million), but it was otherwise tepid as late August action movies often are. Distributor Sony Pictures' exit polling indicated that 57 percent of the audience was female (unusual for the genre), while 65 percent was age 25 years and older.

Don't Be Afraid of the Dark disappointed big-time with $8.5 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 ($13.3 million). In fact, in the past three years, the sub-genre has seen only two worse starts (Case 39 and The Haunting of Molly Hartley). FilmDistrict reported females under 25 years old and Latino-populated markets as the movie's strongest contingents.

Our Idiot Brother stumbled into fifth place with $7 million at 2,555 single-screen locations. The opening was worse than The Switch's $8.7 million last August. Distributor The Weinstein Company's research showed that 55 percent of the audience was female and 70 percent was age 25 years and older.

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 weekend last year, Takers and The Last Exorcism, which respectively drew $20.5 million and $20.4 million. The major nationwide holdovers may be a good indicator of Irene's impact, and they were down 48.5 percent on average, compared to 47.4 percent last year. Not much difference.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes ranked third with $8.9 million, falling a bit harder than last weekend (45 percent versus 42 percent). Its total climbed to $148.7 million in 22 days, leaping past X-Men: First Class.

Last weekend's flops showed no traction. Spy Kids: All the Time in the World tumbled 48 percent to $6 million for a paltry $22 million sum in ten days. Conan the Barbarian crumbled 68 percent to $3.2 million, mustering just $16.7 million in ten days. Fright Night bled 60 percent to $3.1 million for an anemic $14.3 million tally in ten days.

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Last Weekend
'The Help' Reigns Over Gutless 'Conan,' 'Fright Night'

This Timeframe in Past Years:
2010 - 'Takers,' 'Last Exorcism' Possess Top Two Spots
2009 - 'Final Destination' Rips Into Top Spot
2008 - 'Tropic Thunder' Leads Quiet Summer Close
2007 - 'Halloween' Severs Labor Day Record
2006 - 'Illusionist' Impresses on Labor Day Weekend
2005 - 'Transporter 2' Drives to Labor Day Record

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