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.
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.