Long Weekend Openers No Help For Box Office
By John Hamann
September 4, 2011
As expected, the box office is even uglier over this long weekend compared to last weekend's shortened Hurricane Irene session. With no appetite to release decent fare this weekend, the studios are giving the shiv to exhibitors, as all the openers this weekend fail to earn $10 million over three days. It didn't help that two of the new films were of the same genre (poorly made horror), embargoed against critics, and both targeted at the same demographic (idiots). The openers were Apollo 18, about a moon landing gone wrong, and the retread Shark Night 3D, which would allow moviegoers to pay even more to see a very bad film. There was small nugget of goodness called The Debt, but most moviegoers just passed it over. What does it all mean? The Help repeats. Again.
Our number one film of the weekend is The Help, which was number two over its first weekend, and then number one over its next three. The Disney flick earned another $14.2 million this weekend and dropped a tiny 2% compared to last weekend's hurricane-influenced session (I won't say weather-influenced, as weather doesn't hurt box office. However, hurricanes are a different story, especially when they affect most of the Atlantic seaboard). There were a lot of factors influencing The Help's gross and hold this weekend. First off, the Labor Day weekend reared its head, allowing filmgoers to see a movie later on Sunday night, thus affecting the weekend multiplier (weekend gross divided by Friday gross). Over its second frame, The Help had a weekend multiplier of 3.43. The next weekend – which co-starred Hurricane Irene, it dropped to 3.3, due to some theatres on the East Coast being shut down for a portion of the weekend. With Sunday acting more like a Saturday, the weekend multiplier came in at 3.9, and is the reason for the higher hold.
The Help has used the late summer to its advantage, dropping 23%, 27% and now 2%. Tropic Thunder was the last film to do the three-peat over two weekends in August and the last over Labor Day, but it had a much bumpier ride. The Ben Stiller comedy opened to $25.8 million; dropped 37% in weekend two against The House Bunny and Death Race, but still managed to fit on top. It then faced off against Babylon AD over Labor Day and came out victorious, despite a 30% drop and a $11.5 million three-day gross.
Despite softer competition, The Help has had to work harder, as it had Irene to deal with, as well as living in the shadow of Rise of the Planet of the Apes, which beat it over The Help's first weekend. This weekend, though, The Help manages to double the gross of Rise of the Apes, which should show you its staying power. Let's also not forget that the The Help cost Disney only $25 million to make, and now has a rousing total of $118.6 million. If it can keep the percentage drops low, it could make $150 million before it's all said and done.