Weekend Receipts: The Help Takes a Holiday
As if there was any doubt, we officially have a phenomenon on our hands: The Help has held fast for its third consecutive week at the top of the box-office charts, vanquishing a trio of new competitors and further burnishing its credentials for the rapidly approaching awards season. This is getting serious. Your four-day holiday Weekend Receipts are here.
1. The Help
Gross: $19,000,000 ($123,391,000)
Screens: 2,843 (PSA: $6,683)
Weeks: 4 (change: +30.7%)
So I'm on the phone with my grandmother the other day, and she exults in having made an ever-rarer trip to the "picture show." I say, "Oh, yeah? What did you see?" She says, "The Help." I say, "What did you think?" She practically beams over the line, 3,000 miles away, "It was so good. What a good movie!" And then she proceeded to spoil a couple plot elements for me, apparently the only person in America who hasn't yet had a look at Tate Taylor's late-summer smash. The point, however, is that when you can coax the grandma demo to the theater and deliver on the hype and then make the want to go home and want to tell their grandkids, then you are a bona fide phenomenon. As if there was any doubt, but still. At least now I know what we'll (still) be talking about come Christmas.
2. The Debt
Gross: $12,551,000 ($14,453,000)
Screens: 1,826 (PSA: $6,873)
Observers have referred to this one as a surprise or an overachiever, but come on: Just because it got trapped in post-Miramax limbo didn't mean that it was irretrievably doomed. In fact, it had the resourceful and savvy team at Focus Features to get it over the early-September hump -- something they know a thing or two about after strong openings in 2005 for The Constant Gardener and last year for The American. All you need is a little bit of intrigue, the promise of sophistication, and a star (in this case Helen Mirren) to slap on the poster, and whammo. Sleeperooni City. Thwarting the wider-release Apollo 18 and Shark Night 3D on a fraction of the screens was a little unexpected, to be sure, but I choose to be encouraged rather than vexed by this development. You should, too.
3. Apollo 18
Gross: $10,700,000 (new)
Screens: 3,328 (PSA: $3,215)
Whatever. The Weinsteins kicked this can as far down the road as it could go before finally just throwing it in the trash. If they don't care, why would we?
4. Shark Night 3D
Gross: $10,300,000 (new)
Screens: 2,806 (PSA: $3,671)
Speaking of the Weinsteins, who went ahead with a Piranha 3D sequel even after last year's unremarkable opening, this four-day tally -- for a PG-13 film, no less -- can't reassure them for their water-terror follow-up to come.
5. Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Gross: $10,250,000 ($162,475,000)
Screens: 3,193 (PSA: $3,210)
So we need to talk about Andy Serkis, who has now had featured and/or lead roles in five movies combining for a total worldwide gross of over $4 billion -- the Lord of the Rings trilogy, King Kong and now Rise of the Planet of the Apes, which will likely exceed $400 million alone. This fall brings The Adventures of Tintin, and next fall brings the first of two Hobbit films. Serkis is more than having a moment; he's a secret, stabilizing weapon in a field of wildly inconclusive creative and commercial results. Shouldn't Hollywood at least consider him for an Oscar, just as a gesture of appreciation for being the one guy with a clue how to make performance-capture work for audiences and the bottom line alike?
[Numbers via Box Office Guru]