Updated: The Help Takes the Labor Day Weekend Box Office Crown

The Help disposed of newcomers Apollo 18, Shark Night 3D and The Debt to easily claim to top spot through the four-day Labor Day holiday weekend at the North American box office. The win marks three consecutive weekends The Help has looked down on the competition.

From Friday through Monday, The Help earned an estimated $19 million domestically according to distributor Disney. Despite a low screen count and opening early on Wednesday, The Debt rode positive word of mouth to $12.6 million and second place. Apollo 18 took third with $10.7 million, while Shark Night 3D brought up the rear with $10.3 million.

Original article (September 4, 2011): The 2011 Summer Movie Season came to an official close with a very weak top ten at the box office over the Labor Day weekend. Once again, Disney/Dreamworks’ sleeper hit The Help topped the North American box office while another group of newcomers failed to make any sort of impact. Overall the box office gross of the top ten was about level with last year’s Labor Day top ten when the George Clooney drama The American led the pack.

For the third week in a row, The Help kept the crowds coming in at a steady clip. The film barely dropped at all from last weekend’s total, 2.3% to be precise, as it brought in another $14.2 million from 2,843 theaters. After four weeks, the Southern drama has made $118.6 million and shouldn’t have too much trouble zipping past the $150 million mark by the end of September. Where it goes from there is entirely dependent on continued word-of-mouth from viewers.

Of the three new debuts, Focus Features’ The Debt made the biggest impact. The John Madden-directed espionage film, which stars Helen Mirren, Jessica Chastain and Tom Wilkinson, opened last Wednesday and has earned an estimated $11.6 million from 1,826 screens. The film earned a positive 77% approval rating from the nation’s critics on Rotten Tomatoes. Much like The Help, the audience for The Debt consisted of adults over 25 years of age.

The often-delayed science fiction horror film Apollo 18 was finally dumped out onto the market by distributor The Weinstein Company. Befitting a film that is all but abandoned by the studio producing it, Apollo 18 crashed and burned right out of the gate with a dire $8.8 million from 3,328 theaters. Reviews across the board were negative with the film eeking out a 22% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

The third and final debut of the holiday weekend was the number four movie in the country, Relativity’s B (as in bad) movie wannabe Shark Night 3D. The critically maligned horror flick’s saving grace was that of the 2,806 theaters showing the movie 2,500 were 3D presentations. Still, even with that surcharge inflating the box office, the numbers were hardly worth cheering about. In its first three days, Shark Night 3D has chomped its way to a weak $8.6 million.

Fox’s sci-fi prequel Rise of the Planet of the Apes held its ground again to stay in the top five for a fifth weekend. Easing a slight 12% the film added $7.8 million to its coffers, which now stands at approximately $160 million. Apes is now looking to end its run near the $180 million mark.

Two films that underperformed last weekend wound up making the most of the holiday weekend and exhibited marginally small drops. Sony’s action flick Columbiana dropped only 28% from its opening weekend totals to bring in an estimated $7.4 million in its sophomore round. After ten days, the film has earned $22 million and could finish its run with approximately $35 million in the bank.

In seventh place was the Weinstein Company’s comedy Our Idiot Brother, which eased only 26% from its debut round to earn an estimated $5.1 million to bring its two-week total to the $15.1 million mark. The Paul Rudd comedy should call it a day with roughly $25 million in ticket sales.

The remainder of the top ten were leftovers. Eighth place went to Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark with $4.9 million. After ten days, the movie has earned $16 million and may wind up with $25 million in sales. Ninth place went to Spy Kids: All the Time In The World with $4.6 million. After three weeks, the Robert Rodriguez misfire has earned $29 million to date and should finish its run with approximately $37 million. And rounding out the top ten with $4 million in leftover sales was Sony’s The Smurfs. To date, the comedy has earned approximately $131 million.

The top ten grossing films of the summer were:

1) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II $375 million

2) Transformers: Dark Of the Moon $350 million

3) The Hangover Part II $256 million

4) Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides $240 million

5) Cars 2 $188 million

6) Thor $181 million

7) Captain America: The First Avenger $171 million

8) Bridesmaids $167 million

9) Kung Fu Panda 2 $163 million

10) Rise of the Planet of the Apes $160 million

Stephen Soderbergh brings his latest Contagion to theaters next weekend, which should be the film to finally oust The Help from the top. Also debuting next weekend are Warrior with Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton, and the comedy Bucky Larson: Born to be a Star.

– Shawn Fitzgerald

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