The Help Rises to Top of Lackluster Box Office

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The ComingSoon.net Box Office Report has been updated with studio estimates for the weekend. Click here for the full box office estimates of the top 12 films and then check back on Monday for the final figures based on actual box office.

As hard as we try not to believe in the “Dog Day of Summer,” the absolutely dreadful showing for the four new movies opening in wide release–three of them in higher-priced 3D theaters!–pretty much confirms that the last couple of weekends of August continue to be the worst time to release a new movie.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that how poorly those four movies fared allowed last week’s top 2 movies to remain on top and for DreamWorks’ adaptation of Kathryn Stockett’s bestseller The Help to take advantage of word-of-mouth to move into first place. With an ensemble cast including Emma Stone, Viola Davis and Bryce Dallas Howard, the Tate Taylor adaption brought in $20.5 million in its second weekend, down just 21% from its opening weekend take. It has grossed $71.8 million so far and with a production budget of $25 million, it’s well into profit now.

Dropping to second place, the 20th Century Fox action prequel Rise of the Planet of the Apes, starring James Franco and Andy Serkis, added another $16.3 million (down 41%) to bring its total to $133.7 million after just three weekends.

Opening in nearly 3,300 theaters, Robert Rodriguez’s fourth installment of his family franchise, Spy Kids: All the Time in the World (Weinstein Company), starring Jessica Alba, Joel McHale and Jeremy Piven, made just $12 million over the weekend, an average of $3,650 per site. That’s a fairly disappointing showing for a franchise that can claim two $100 million plus predecessors.

It still didn’t fare nearly as badly as remake king Marcus (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Friday the 13th) Nispel’s attempt to revive Conan the Barbarian (Lionsgate), this time with Jason Momoa, Stephen Lang, Ron Perlman, Rachel Nichols and former Rodriguez gal pal Rose McGowan. Also opening in 3,000 theaters, it brought in an estimated $10 million for fourth place. The difference is that the movie cost a reported $90 million, which is nearly three times the cost of its competition.

After a month in theaters, Sony Pictures’ hit family film The Smurfs took fifth place with $8 million and $117.7 million total domestically. It also added another $35.3 million overseas bringing its worldwide total to $329 million with $211 million coming from international. Sony have already greenlit a sequel and it’s on the fast track for release in August 2013.

Opening on Thursday with $400 thousand made from 9pm screenings, the 3D horror remake Fright Night (DreamWorks), starring Anton Yelchin and Colin Farrell, did a disappointing $7.9 million over the weekend for sixth place despite having the best reviews of the four new movies.

Last week’s other new movies took a tumble as Final Destination 5 (New Line/WB) took seventh place with $7.7 million (down 57%) and $32.3 million total, and Ruben Fleischer’s action-comedy 30 Minutes or Less (Sony) dropped to eighth place with $6.3 million and $25.7 million total.

Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess starred in the Lone Scherfig-directed adaptation of David Nicholls’ bestselling novel One Day (Focus Features), but the starpower didn’t help it do more than $5.1 million in 1,719 theaters for ninth place.

The Top 10 grossed roughly $98 million, down 8% from the same weekend last year when five new movies opened in wide release including the spoof comedy Vampires Suck (20th Century Fox) but none of them were able to defeat Sly Stallone’s The Expendables (Lionsgate) for first place with just $17 million.

Settling down to 11th place, the year’s highest-grossing movie Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 (Warner Bros.) brought its total to $366 million with another $4.4 million over the weekend.

Click here for the full box office results of the top 12 films.