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Box Office Report: 'The Help' Gains on 'Planet of the Apes;' 'Glee' Sings Off Key

James Franco - Rise of the Planet of the Apes - 2011

Elsewhere at the domestic box office, 'Final Destination 5' and R-rated action comedy '30 Minutes or Less' off to soft start.

The Friday box office turned into an unexpectedly close race between holdover Rise of the Planet of the Apes and new entry The Help, with Rise of the Apes only holding a narrow lead.

Preliminary estimates showed 20th Century Fox's Rise of the Apes grossing $7.8 million, while DreamWorks and Participant Media's The Help earned $7 million to $7.5 mllion.

Most box observers are still betting on Rise of the Apes to win the weekend, but if The Help--based on Kathryn Stockett's best-selling novel about Southern white women and their maids--continues to overperform, the outcome could change.

As it stands now, Rise of the Apes is predicted to earn $25.5 million for the weekend, while The Help is expected to gross between $20 million and $22 million. Disney, which is distributing the movie, is being conservative in its estimate, and sticking to $20 million.

Even at $20 million, that would put the The Help's five-day debut (the pic opened on Wednesday) at a stellar $30 million, better than expected and reflecting strong word of mouth. Directed by Tate Taylor, the movie received a rare A+ CinemaScore and is playing especially well both in African-American communities and upscale cinemas, including the ArcLight in Los Angeles.

Three other new films entered the market on Friday to mixed results--Warner Bros./New Line's Final Destination 5, Sony and Media Rights Capital's R-rated action comedy 30 Minutes or Less and Fox's Glee: The 3D Concert Movie.

Final Destination 5, released in 3D, looked to gross $7.3 million on Friday, putting the pic on track to earn $18 million for the weekend, slightly less than expected. The pic received a B+ CinemaScore, with males making up 54% of the audience.

Ruben Fleischer's 30 Minutes or Less and Glee: The Movie both came in lower than expected, grossing an estimated $4.5 million and $3 million, respectively, at the Friday box office.

Earning a B CinemaScore, 30 Minutes or Less is now projected to open to $13 million, verus the $15 million to $17 million that Sony and MRC were hoping for. Males made up a full 60% of the audience.

Glee, which is only playing in 3D locations, may only gross $7.5 million for the weekend, the poorest showing among the recent crop of concert pics. The good news: The concert pic, appealing heavily to younger girls, received an A CinemaScore.