Box Office: 'Apes' reigns again, but 'The Help' has solid debut [Updated]
After getting off to a strong start upon its opening, ticket sales for "Apes" dropped a moderate 50% this weekend to $27.5 million, according to an estimate from distributor 20th Century Fox, bringing the film's domestic total to $104.9 million. That was just enough to beat out "The Help," the only new movie that did solid business this weekend. The film, based on Kathryn Stockett's bestselling novel about race relations in 1960s Mississippi, collected $25.5 million over the weekend. "Final Destination 5," the latest installment in the popular horror franchise, grossed a decent $18.4 million, while the dark R-rated comedy "30 Minutes or Less" brought in a so-so $13 million. And though it was the least expensive to produce of any new film debuting this weekend, "Glee: The 3-D Concert Movie" also sold the least number of tickets -- an unimpressive $5.7 million.
"The Help," about a young white woman who writes a book about the struggles of a group of African American maids, opened on Wednesday in an effort to gain strong word of mouth before the crowded weekend. The move apparently paid off, as moviegoers who saw the film earlier last week loved it, giving it a perfect average grade of A+, according to market research firm CinemaScore. After the weekend, the movie's tally will stand at an estimated $35.4 million, a good start considering that DreamWorks SKG and Participant Media only spent about $25 million to produce it.
The picture, which is being distributed by Walt Disney Studios, did best with older women -- 60% of the audience was over 35 and 74% was female. The studios behind the film were hoping that it would resonate strongly with African Americans and in the South, as it takes place in Jackson, Miss. Indeed, the local theater in Jackson, the Malco Grandview 17, sold the second-highest number of tickets to the film of any theater in the country this weekend.
"The Help" is already off to a better start than two other movies aimed at female audiences that opened on the same weekend in past years and ended up doing robust business. Last summer's "Eat Pray Love,' starring Julia Roberts and also based on a bestselling novel, opened to $23.1 million and ultimately grossed $204.6 million worldwide, while 2009's "Julie & Julia," in which Meryl Streep played Julia Child, debuted to $20 million and finished with $129.5 million in global ticket sales.
The fifth "Final Destination" movie, about teenagers always trying to cheat death, fared far more poorly than the last entry in the horror series, "The Final Destination." The fourth film in the franchise opened to $27.4 million in 2009, fueled largely by 3-D ticket receipts. Audiences were willing to shell out a few extra dollars to see "Final Destination 5" in the pricier format as well, with 75% of this weekend's business coming from 3-D.
But it remains to be seen whether the movie -- which was produced by Warner Bros.' New Line Cinema label for around $40 million -- will be able to reach or surpass the $186.2 million global tally of "The Final Destination." The fifth movie, seen mostly by young males, did receive an average grade of B+ -- indicating that word of mouth on the picture may be decent.
Of all the R-rated comedies to hit theaters this summer, "30 Minutes or Less" had one of the lowest openings. The film's debut came in far below that of sleeper hits like "Bridesmaids" or "Horrible Bosses," but it should still fare decently given its modest budget. Media Rights Capital spent $28 million to make the movie, which Sony Pictures later acquired and is distributing worldwide.
The film, starring Jesse Eisenberg as a pizza delivery guy who is abducted, strapped with a bomb and told to rob a bank, was assigned an average grade of B by those who saw it. The film resonated most with young males, with 58% of the crowd male and 69% under the age of 25.
As far as concert films go, "Glee" had a particularly weak opening. The movie got off to an even worse start than "Jonas Brothers: The 3-D Concert Experience," a 2009 film that ended up with a disappointing $23.2 million in global ticket sales. And it didn't even come close to replicating the performance of "Never Say Never," a 3-D concert film about young pop star Justin Bieber that opened to $29.5 million in February and ultimately racked up a strong total of $98.4 million worldwide.
The self-proclaimed "Gleeks" who saw the film -- a 79% female crowd -- loved it, giving it an average grade of A. Unfortunately for 20th Century Fox, not enough of them showed up to buy tickets to the movie, which is only playing in 3-D theaters for two weeks. Still, the studio spent only about $9 million to produce the movie, which shows "Glee" cast members performing musical numbers from the Fox TV program during a recent concert tour.
[Updated, 12:59 p.m. Aug. 14: While "The Smurfs" is faring well domestically, the film about the blue cartoon characters is doing spectacular business overseas. This weekend, the movie's international tally eclipsed its domestic one, with the film raking in $60 million from 44 foreign markets. The film performed best in China, where it collected $12.5 million. In total, "The Smurfs" has now grossed $141.1 million overseas and $101.5 million in the U.S. and Canada.
Here are the top 10 movies at the domestic box office, with international grosses when available, according to studio estimates and Hollywood.com:
1. "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" (Fox/Dune/Ingenious): $27.5 million on its second weekend, down 50%. $40.2 million overseas in 40 foreign markets. Domestic total: $104.9 million. International total: $75.1 million.
2. "The Help" (Dreamworks/Participant/Disney): Opened on Wednesday, but grossed $25.5 million on its first weekend. Domestic total: $35.4 million.
3. "Final Destination 5" (Warner Bros.): Opened to $18.4 million.
4. "The Smurfs" (Sony): $13.5 million on its third weekend, down 35%. $60 million overseas in 44 foreign markets. Domestic total: $101.5 million. International total: $141.1 million.
5. "30 Minutes or Less" (MRC/Sony): Opened to $13 million.
6. "Cowboys & Aliens" (Universal/Relativity/Dreamworks): $7.6 million on its third weekend, down 52%. $7 million overseas in 14 foreign markets. Domestic total: $81.5 million. International total: $7 million.
7. "Captain America: The First Avenger" (Paramount/Marvel): $7.1 million on its fourth weekend, down 45%. $12.2 million overseas in 45 foreign markets. Domestic total: $156.9 million. International total: $128.3 million.
8. "Crazy, Stupid, Love" (Warner Bros.): $6.9 million on its third weekend, down 42%. Domestic total: $55.4 million.
9. "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows -- Part 2" (Warner Bros.): $6.9 million on its fifth weekend, down 45%. $30 million overseas in 61 foreign markets. Domestic total: $357 million. International total: $857.8 million.
10. "The Change-Up" (Universal/Relativity): $6.2 million on its second weekend, down 54%. Domestic total: $25.8 million.]
-- Amy Kaufman
Photos, from top: Emma Stone stars in "The Help." Credit: DreamWorks.
Aziz Ansari, left, and Jesse Eisenberg star in "30 Minutes or Less." Credit: Sony.