Box Office Preview: 'The Help' Eyes No. 1

 DreamWorks Studios

Vampires, kids with scratch-and-sniff cards and barbarians in 3D invade the domestic box office this weekend as a slew of films enter a crowded marketplace in a late summer melee.

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Surprisingly, odds are on The Help to beat them all and come in No. 1 in its second weekend of play after opening to No. 2 last weekend--an unusual feat also accomplished by sleeper hit The Blind Side. The Help has come in No. 1 every day this week.

The four new entries also will have to compete with holdover Rise of the Planet of the Apes, particularly Lionsgate and Nu Image/Millennium’s big-budget Conan the Barbarian and DreamWorks’ Colin Farrell-Anton Yelchin remake Fright Night, which will vie with Apes for male attention.

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The other two new titles are Robert Rodriguez’s Spy Kids: All the Time in the World in 4D, from Weinstein Co./Dimension, and Focus Features’ Anne Hathaway-Jim Sturgess romantic drama One Day, based on the best-selling British novel by David Nicholls.

From DreamWorks and Participant Media, The Help is projected to gross roughly $18 million for the weekend (its cume through Wednesday was $47.8 million).

The Help is likely to take some females away from One Day, produced by Focus and Random House.

FILM REVIEW: One Day

One Day is opening in a modest 1,719 theaters, and will be pleased with a weekend gross of anything over $6 million, since the Focus and Random House-produced film cost under $20 million to make and was financed through foreign presales. Focus and Universal kept distribution rights in the U.K., where the book has a huge following and the movie opens Aug. 24.

The cross-promotion between the film and the book has propelled One Day—about two friends who met every year for a romantic tryst—to No. 3 on The New York Times bestseller list.

FILM REVIEW: Fright Night

Women also are showing interest in DreamWorks’ Colin Farrell-Anton Yelchin remake Fright Night, about a vampire that moves in next door to a teenager. The pic—drawing the best reviews of any of the new films-also stars Toni Collette.

But tracking has been sluggish for Craig Gillespie’s Fright Night. Projections show the film grossing in the $12 million to $13 million range for the weekend, slightly behind Conan the Barbarian, which also has been tracking softer than expected.

FILM REVIEW: Conan the Barbarian

The big difference: Fright Night cost under $20 million to produce, while Conan cost north of $70 million. Avi Lerner’s Millennium Films fully financed Conan, which opens nearly 30 years after Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Conan the Barbarian played in theaters.

Fright Night, a remake of the 1985 campy classic, director Marcus Nispel’s Conan the Barbarian and Spy Kids: All the Time in the World are all being released in 3D, meaning a deluge (Fright Night launches at 9 p.m. on Thursday night in 1,700 to 1,800 3D theaters across the country).

The fourth installment in the Spy Kids franchise is resurrecting a long-ago cinema trick: Aroma-scope, whereby a number flashes on the screen, and moviegoers scratch the corresponding number on the card they are given.

In 2003, Spy Kids 3D: Game Over successfully ushered in the modern-day 3D movement, opening to a stellar $33.4 million. All the Time In the World is bringing its own trick to the table, but is expected to gross far less. Part of the reason is that kids are already beginning to go back to school (Spy Kids: Game Over opened in July).

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Family tracking is notoriously hard to read, but box office observers believe All the Time in the World could gross anywhere in the $10 million to $15 million range. The Weinstein would be pleased with $10 million or more.

Sony’s surprise hit Smurfs is a ding for Spy Kids, with Smurfs predicted to earn as much as $9 million this weekend, its fourth outing.

Rise of the Apes, which came in No. 1 the past two weekends, and could come in No. 2 this weekend, ahead of the four new films. Through Wednesday, the pic’s domestic cume was $115 million; Smurfs has earned $108.2 million domestically.

 

 

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