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Weekend Box Office: The Help Ascends to Number One, Spy Kids 4 Strongest Newbie

Thompson on Hollywood By Anthony D'Alessandro | Thompson on Hollywood August 21, 2011 at 4:51AM

As expected, robust holdover drama The Help kept all weekend newcomers at bay and claimed the number one spot. Of the newbies, family-friendly Spy Kids 4 fared best. Anthony D'Alessandro reports:Disney/DreamWorks' The Help bossed around three franchise reboots and an arthouse film for the top box office spot, earning $20.5 million in its second sesh and a respectable 21% dip. Clearly, many moviegoers have lost patience with summer carbon copies and are ready to embrace the autumn wave of smart adult fare coming down the pipe. Weinstein Co. four-quel Spy Kids: All the Time in the World came out ahead of the competition with $12 million because it was the only film geared toward families. Meanwhile, two R-rated 3-D films shot each other in the chest: Nu Image/Lionsgate's Conan the Barbarian forked $10 million and DreamWorks' Fright Night, handled by Disney, scared audiences out of the multiplex with $8.3 million. And Focus Features' One Day bucked sour reviews in top markets, grossing $5.1 million.
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Thompson on Hollywood

As expected, robust holdover drama The Help kept all weekend newcomers at bay and claimed the number one spot. Of the newbies, family-friendly Spy Kids 4 fared best. Anthony D'Alessandro reports:


Disney/DreamWorks' The Help bossed around three franchise reboots and an arthouse film for the top box office spot, earning $20.5 million in its second sesh and a respectable 21% dip. Clearly, many moviegoers have lost patience with summer carbon copies and are ready to embrace the autumn wave of smart adult fare coming down the pipe. Weinstein Co. four-quel Spy Kids: All the Time in the World came out ahead of the competition with $12 million because it was the only film geared toward families. Meanwhile, two R-rated 3-D films shot each other in the chest: Nu Image/Lionsgate's Conan the Barbarian forked $10 million and DreamWorks' Fright Night, handled by Disney, scared audiences out of the multiplex with $8.3 million. And Focus Features' One Day bucked sour reviews in top markets, grossing $5.1 million.
It made sense for the Weinstein Co./Dimension to stick to its mid-August playdate for Spy Kids 4, where the series has historically thrived. The kid flick pulled in 67% females and 65% kids under 12. Posting the lowest bow in the series, even lower than Spy Kids 2 ($16.7 million), it seems that Dimension wasn't expecting The Smurfs to make a dent in the market. Furthermore, it's been eight years since the last installment. But Weinstein distribution exec Erik Lomis has no regrets over the crowded release date: "We made sure we were the only wide release geared toward our demo." Optimism prevails heading into September as Spy Kids 4, armed with a B+ Cinemascore, is one of the only family films out there.

Advance projections for the weekend predicted Nu Image's Conan the Barbarian, distributed by Lionsgate had the edge over Spy Kids 4 to win the weekend. Aiming to emulate the success of it's '80s action homage The Expendables a year ago, Nu Image spent $90 million to jumpstart Conan; Lionsgate thought it was a good investment, snapping up U.S./U.K. rights for $25 million. While Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger have remained alive in peaks and valleys at the B.O., Conan hasn't. The film had a small cult following that hasn't been kept alive through the decades like Terminator; Conan wasn't a blockbuster back in 1982 either: it grossed $40 million. Lionsgate worked overtime promoting this film on social networks and earned 97% positive scores with its YouTube trailers. There was a reveal in the online game Age of Conan, which clicked 300K new subs in the last month. Folks were hooting and hollering at a Burbank midnight screening Thursday. It's an opulent, bloody epic with a beefcake guy (Jason Momoa) who does the role justice. The film deserved another release date away from the fray. "It's a missed opportunity," points out one rival studio exec.

Why place a horror film in the middle of a crowded weekend? It's the last chance to get any summer teenagers. Fright Night cost $30 million and Disney probably figured that if they came up short, they wouldn't lose their shirt. The film's failure to click stemmed from its inability to win over old fans; apparently Colin Farrell isn't someone teen girls fantasize about as a vampire (see Rob Pattinson or Alexander Skarsgard). Could he be too old?

One Day started out okay for Focus Features, hitting 72% females and 73% over 25. While lackluster reviews can spell death to many arthouse films, One Day played well to frequent female moviegoers, many of whom had already seen The Help. 73% of the crowd smooched it with either an A or a B Cinemascore, which should give it some legs.


The Top Ten Box Office Chart:


1. The Help (Disney/DreamWorks) $20.5 million down tkk% in its second weekend at 2,690 theaters. $tkk theater average. Domestic total: $71.8 million.
2. Rise of the Planet of the Apes (Fox) $16.3 million down 41% in its third weekend at 3,471 theaters. $4,696 theater average. Domestic total: $133.8 million.
3. Spy Kids: All the Time in the World (Weinstein) $12 million in its first weekend at 3,295 theaters. $3,648 theater average. Domestic total: $12 million.
4. Conan the Barbarian (Lionsgate/Nu Image) $10 million in its first weekend at 3,015 theaters. $3,317 theater average. Domestic total: $10 million.
5. Fright Night (Disney/DreamWorks) $8.3 million in its first weekend at 3,114 theaters. $ theater average. Domestic total: $8.3 million
6. Smurfs (Sony) $8 million down 42% in its fourth weekend at 3,057 theaters. $2,617 theater average. Domestic total: $117.7 million.
7. Final Destination 5 (Warner Bros./New Line) $7.7 million down 57% in its second weekend at 3,155 theaters. $2,442 theater average. Domestic total: $32.3 million.
8. 30 Minutes or Less (Sony) $6.3 million down 53% in its second weekend at 2,888 theaters. $2,181 theater average. Domestic total: $25.8 million.
9. One Day (Focus Features) $5.1 million in its first weekend at 1,719 theaters. $2979 theater average. Domestic total: $5.1 million.
10. Crazy, Stupid, Love (Warner Bros.) $4.95 million down 30% in its fourth weekend at 1,940 theaters. $2,552 theater average. Domestic total: $64.4 million.

This article is related to: Box Office, Genres, Headliners, Marketing, Summer, Sequel, Remake, Drama, Books, Colin Farrell


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.