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Box Office Report: 'The Help' Off to a Strong Start in Midweek Bow

Dale Robinette/DreamWorks

UPDATED: The femme-driven pic, based on Kathryn Stockett's runaway bestseller, is on course to gross a pleasing $5 million on its first day in theaters; the movie leads all sales on Fandango for second day in a row.

Tate Taylor's big-screen adaptation of The Help is off to an impressive start at the domestic box office, with early estimates suggesting a $5 million gross for the day.

PHOTOS: 'The Help's' Retro, Southern Style

DreamWorks and Disney decided to open the movie midweek to build buzz going into the weekend.

The move appears to be paying off, with fans of Kathryn Stockett's novel turning out in force, along with moviegoers simply curious about the film's storyline and large female cast, led by Emma Stone, Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer and Bryce Dallas Howard.

STORY: 'The Help's' Emma Stone: What Critics Say of Her Performance

As a way of comparison, The Help is keeping up so far with Julie & Julia, another femme-fueled film that opened last August. But because Julie & Julia opened on a Friday, it had the advantage of stronger nighttime traffic and grossed $6.4 million for the day.

Rival studios were impressed by the business The Help was doing. "That's a terrific number," one executive at another studio said.

Set in the early 1960s in Jackson, Miss., The Help explores the complicated relationships between white women and their maids, and what happens when a young white journalist exposes how the maids are treated.

FILM REVIEW: 'The Help'

DreamWorks and Participant Media co-financed the $25 million the movie, which was produced by Chris Columbus and Mike Barnathan's 1492 Pictures. The film is already drawing awards buzz for its performances.

The Help is projected to gross $20 million over the course of its five-day debut.

A survey of 1,000 moviegoers by online ticketing service Fandango found that 77% of those interested in seeing The Help had read the book, while 95% reported that the film's surprising comic relief makes them more interested in seeing the film. And nearly 70% said they were looking forward to seeing a summer movie with substance.