Despite the presence of sultry Luc Besson trained assassins, spindly Guillermo del Toro demons and a hurricane, The Help once again held the top spot at the box office. The Tate Taylor film made $14.3 million in spite of the looming threat of Hurricane Irene and now has a cume of $96 million. With a $25 million production budget, The Help has become a solid midrange hit for Buena Vista. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides is Disney’s billion dollar monster but The Help is on of those rare films that does better than average business and also has had a critical reception that might lead to some gold statues at the end of the year. Whether you want to call it prestige lite or really clever summer counter programing, just don’t call it honest.
That’s not to say that Irene didn’t have a deleterious effect on the box office. This week’s totals are the weakest this year, outstripping even the dismal results of the February’s Super Bowl weekend. The Luc Besson (Taken) action thriller Colombiana probably suffered the most as it was the most mainstream of this week’s new releases and it barely made $10 million this week. Now, the Besson produced From Paris with Love also suffered a tepid box office reception and there were no destructive meteorological events around its release so you can’t say that his releases always strike gold but Colombiana has had the weakest opening for a Besson written film since 2005’s Unleashed. I’d say the blame for this could equally be split amongst TriStar for not hammering “from the people who brought you The Transporter and Taken” into the public consciousness and the 1,000 plus East Coast theaters going dark.
The Guillermo del Toro backed Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark also had a soft opening, taking in $8.6 million against a $25 million budget. Honestly, this film probably wouldn’t have done a ton better had the East Coast been open for business. It’s a prestige horror picture opening in the wrong month in an era when audiences have made it clear they prefer the barley competent digital compositions of Oren Peli over the neoclassic work of a craftsmen like del Toro. Still, at with its modest budget and a probable October-ish home media release, Dark won’t be a flop, just a minor disappointment.
And then Our Idiot Brother, the precocious indie (Zooey Deschanel has a major supporting role) starring Paul Rudd as a kind of sainted screw up debuted in fifth place with $6.5 million. Seeing as the Weinstein Company film only cost $6 million to produce, that number isn’t suicide inducing for anybody involved but given ubiquitous and expensive marketing for the film was and how meh the critical reception has been Bob and Harvey are probably regretting making this one a wide release. Rudd can sort of open a movie (his stuff usual debuts in the high teens) but with him looking all scraggly and fat, taking this wide instead giving it a more realistic major-cities-at-first-rollout was a mistake.
Surprising summer MVP Rise of the Planet of the Apes continues to perform above expectations and earned $8.6 million. That gives the Fox prequel a $271 million worldwide gross. That number places the film a bit lower down the summer movie totem pole gross wise, but given that the film only cost $93 million to produce, it might end being one of the more profitable major releases of the year. What strange summer we’ve had where super hyped tentpole film’s like Cowboys & Aliens and Green Lantern flamed out spectacularly but a silly prequel to a remake like this that had a cast led by James Franco becomes one of the bigger hits of the year.
As for the rest of the top ten: Spy Kids: All the Time in the World fell more than 50% from its debut last week but thanks to its foreign grosses has almost made back its budget. At this point it’s just depressing to see slap together kiddie fodder crap do well because it’ll only encourage Robert Rodriguez to make more of them and not slap together action movie junkie pap like Machete. The Smurfs made $4.8 million and has now made more than $300 million worldwide with an astounding $211 million in foreign grosses. I wouldn’t have guessed that all those dated pop culture references would have translated so well but there you go. Lions Gate’s Conan the Barbarian remake fell almost 70% from last week taking in $3.1 million for a two week total of $22 million against a $90 budget. Read Conan co-writer Sean Hood’s heartbreaking essayon the pains of being the creator of a high profile failure and enjoy the one good thing to come out of the film’s production. Non-starting Colin Farrell vehicle Fright Night made $3 million which pushes its cume to $14 million against a $30 million budget. Such is the lot of remakes of obscure cult movies. Finally, Crazy, Stupid Love eked out $2.9 million and has a worldwide total of just over $74 million which isn’t enough to make the $50 million film profitable.
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The top ten movies of August 26-28, 2011 were
1. The Help- $14.3M
2. Colombiana- $10.3M
3. Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark- $8.68M
4. Rise of the Planet of the Apes- $8.65M
5. Our Idiot Brother- $6.5M
6. Spy Kids: All the Time in the World- $5.7M
7. The Smurfs- $4.8M
8. Conan the Barbarian- $3.1M
9. Fright Night- $3M
10. Crazy, Stupid Love- $2.9M
(Data courtesy of Box Office Mojo)
Mario blogs regularly at A Polemic Killer Room.