Weekend Report: 'The Help' Works It Over Labor Day

The Help stayed in charge for the third weekend in a row, remaining the saving grace of a moribund close to Summer 2011. Down only two percent from last weekend, the drama earned an estimated $14.2 million, lifting its total to $118.6 million in 26 days. For the four-day Labor Day weekend, distributor Walt Disney Pictures projected The Help at $18 million. The last movie to hold the top spot for three weekends was Inception.

Among the modest debuts, The Debt was the only remotely impressive one. Ranking second, the thriller collected an estimated $9.7 million on close to 1,900 screens at 1,826 locations, or nearly three-quarters of The American on the same weekend last year, and has tallied $11.6 million since its Wednesday debut. Distributor Focus Features noted that The Debt played mostly to folks over 30 years old, and that the audience was near evenly split between genders.

The dueling horror movies, Apollo 18 and Shark Night 3D, were just $60,000 apart in their estimates, but both were bloodless. Apollo nabbed $8.70 million at 3,328 nearly single-screen locations, while Shark packed $8.64 million on approximately 4,100 screens at 2,806 locations. Shark's run included around 2,500 3D locations, and they accounted for 86 percent of its business. Apollo had the weakest launch yet for a "found-footage" horror movie, while Shark's bite wasn't even as big as the diminutive Piranha 3D's $10.1 million from last summer. The demographics were 57 percent male and 56 percent under 25 years old for Apollo (according to distributor The Weinstein Company), and 52 percent female and 57 percent under 25 for Shark (according to Relativity Media).

Rise of the Planet of the Apes rounded out the Top Five, generating an estimated $7.8 million. The Apes reboot fell only 12 percent and has rallied $160 million in 31 days. Off 29 percent, Colombiana slipped to sixth with an estimated $7.4 million and has made $22 million in ten days.

Our Idiot Brother held up better (down 26 percent) than the other second-weekend holdovers, but the comedy was still insignificant with an estimated $5.2 million for a $15.4 million sum in ten days. Don't Be Afraid of the Dark fell further into oblivion, collapsing by 42 percent to an estimated $4.9 million for a $16.4 million tally in ten days.

Meanwhile, golf drama Seven Days in Utopia was a miss with an estimated $1.2 million at 561 locations in its debut, and the re-rollout of Cars 2 stalled. The Pixar sequel took in an estimated $1.1 million at 2,043 locations, compared to Toy Story 3's $1.9 million re-expansion on the same weekend last year. With $188.6 million in 73 days, Cars 2 will be the first Pixar movie since A Bug's Life not to reach $200 million, and it's also the company's least-attended movie yet by a wide margin.

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