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Weekend Box Office: The Help Dominates Weak Conan, Fright Night Debuts

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By Chris Kavan - 08/21/11 at 08:36 PM CT

Despite having a lot of competition over the weekend, audiences were more supportive of holdovers as the summer movie season gave its last gasp.

The Help climbed from its second-place to debut to take the top spot at the box office with an estimated $20.4 million. Not surprisingly, it had to least drop of any film in the top 10, off just over 21% from last week. The $71.8 million total looks good, especially in comparison to recent chick-lit adaptations Julie & Julia and Eat, Pray, Love. If it continues to hold onto its audience, it should have no problem crossing the $100 million mark.

Dropping a spot was two-week champ Rise of the Planet of the Apes. The reboot of the franchise was off 41.4% but still took in $16.3 million. Apes now stands at $133.7 million and continues to outshine close competitors G.I. Joe Rise of the Cobra and X-Men: First Class.

While the top two films have something to smile about, the same can't be said for any of the newcomers. Leading the pack was the kid-friendly Spy Kids: All the Time in the World. The third-place $12 million opening is a series-low - taking in just over 1/3 of what the Spy Kids 3D: Game Over took in. Instead of catering to long-time fans who grew up with the series, the new film was aimed at the younger crowd - seeing as how 65% of its audience was under 12.

The Conan remake starring Jason Momoa couldn't muster up much strength. The fourth-place $10 million film joined Pathfinder as director Marcus Nispel's second action/fantasy dud. With 61% of grosses coming from 3D, things would have looked even more dire without the extra dimension helping it along.

Still, Conan at least can boast it wasn't the weakest remake of the weekend. That honor goes to the toothless Fright Night, which in sixth place, brought in just $7.9 (or $8.3 with midnight showings factored in) million even after a decent marketing push. As a comparison - it couldn't even match the opening of Vampires Suck from last year. Again, without the 61% 3D factored in, the film might have barely cracked the top 10.

The only other new film, One Day, was pretty much a non-factor. It landed in ninth-place with just $5.1 million landing on the low end for romantic dramas.

Rounding out the top five was The Smurfs, which took in an additional $8 million for a $117.7 million total. While Fright Night could overtake it once final numbers are announced, it's obvious that the little blue creatures have more bite than the vamps.

In a sign that it may be time to retire the franchise (I can only hope), Final Destination 5 took the biggest hit of the week, dropping over 57% of its audience and falling to seventh place with $7.7 million. The $32.3 million total is also trailing the other films in the series. While it might make back its $40 million budget, I doubt it will be by much.

Next week finds Paul Rudd being as laid back as possible in Our Idiot Brother, Zoe Saldana kicking butt in Colombiana and finally the release of the long-gestating horror film Don't Be Afraid of the Dark. We'll see if any of these new films can make an impact on the box office.


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