The Help Remains on Top as Irene Slams Box Office

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.

It was another bad weekend at the box office but at least this weekend, the studios have a good excuse as Hurricane Irene crashed onto the Eastern seaboard, forcing many chains to close their theaters over the weekend. New York City, one of the top markets, shut its transit system down at noon on Saturday, but got the worst of the storm overnight and there’s a chance theaters will be opening for business later today.

Even with the threat of storms on the East Coast and three more new movies, DreamWorks’ The Help held up with more business from strong word-of-mouth, staying on top with $14.3 million (down 28% from last week) and a total of $96.6 million, which should allow it to become the 22nd movie of 2011 to cross the $100 million by Tuesday.

The top new movie of the weekend also featured a woman in the lead as Zoe Saldana’s Colombiana (Sony/TriStar Pictures) brought in $10.3 million over the weekend in 2,614 theaters for second place.

Third place went to the Guillermo del Toro-produced horror flick Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark (FilmDistrict), starring Katie Holmes and Guy Pearce, with $8.7 million. That put it just $39,000 ahead of the 20th Century Fox action prequel Rise of the Planet of the Apes, which has grossed $148.5 million since opening at the beginning of August.

A pick-up from this year’s Sundance Film Festival, Jesse Peretz’s Our Idiot Brother (The Weinstein Company) starred Paul Rudd and an ensemble cast including Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel, Emily Mortimer and Steve Coogan, but it only made $6.6 million in its opening weekend for fifth place. The production costs are rumored to be only $5 million, which gives it a good chance of making back its money, although that doesn’t count the money spent on marketing by the Weinstein Company.

Robert Rodriguez’s Spy Kids: All the Time in the World (Dimension Films) dropped three spots to sixth place with $5.7 million and $21.7 million total, while Sony Pictures’ The Smurfs took seventh place with $4.8 million and $126 million total.

Last week’s retro remakes, Conan the Barbarian (Lionsgate) and Fright Night (DreamWorks), both took nasty tumbles as they ended up in eighth and ninth place with roughly $3 million each.

The Top 10 grossed an estimated $68 million, down 25% from the same weekend last year when Takers (Screen Gems) and The Last Exorcism (Lionsgate) topped the box office with over $20 million each.

Even though the top two movies of the weekend both featured women, two new limited releases by first-time women directors featuring female leads both did poor business as
Maryam Keshavarz’s Circumstance (Roadside Attractions) brought in roughly $43 thousand in 7 theaters and Vera Farmiga’s Higher Ground (Sony Pictures Classics) made only $22 thousand in 3 theaters.

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

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