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Box Office Report: Labor Day Off to a Ho-Hum Start; 'The Help' Stays at No. 1

The Help
Dreamworks

"Apollo 18" now looking to come in No. 2, followed by "Shark Night 3D" and "The Debt."

Stranded astronauts and ferocious sharks are no match for The Help, which is now likely to win the Labor Day weekend box office race, besting new entries Apollo 18 and Shark Night 3D.

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Early Friday returns indicate that The Help will gross around $14 million for the four-day holiday weekend. By Monday, the female-fueled drama will have jumped $120 million mark--exceeding even the most optimistic expectations. DreamWorks and Participant Media produced and co-financed the $25 million movie.

From the Weinstein Co./Dimension Films, the micro-budgeted Apollo 18 is performing on the low end of expectations -- based on Friday numbers -- and is now projected to make $11 million for the four-days (tracking had put the pic in the $11 million to $14 million range).

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Apollo 18—costing just $5 million to produce--was produced by Timur Bekmambetov and Ron Schmidt, and directed by Gonzalo Lopez-Gallego. The project is impressive for coming together in less than a year; the Weinstein Co. and Bekmambetov teamed up last fall to announce the movie to foreign buyers at the American Film Market.

Horror pic Shark Night 3D should come in No. 3 for the weekend with a gross of $8 million to $9 million, although it could find itself in a close race with Focus Features’ Helen Mirren adult thriller The Debt, which is playing in far fewer theaters.

FILM REVIEW: Apollo 18

Shark Night 3D, from Incentive Filmed Entertainment and Sierra/Affinity, is performing in line with pre-weekend tracking. Directed by David R. Ellis (The Final Destination), Shark Night cost under $30 million to make Louisiana tax rebates. Relativity Media, which is releasing the film, put up all marketing costs in the U.S. (E1 Entertainment is releasing the pic in Canada).

The Debt opened Wednesday and grossed a stellar $1.9 million in its first two days of play, in line with Focus’ 2005 adult hit The Constant Gardener, which also opened on the Wednesday before Labor Day weekend. The Debt is expected to gross $8 million or more for the four-day weekend itself, and could even match the $12 million five-day debut of Constant Gardener.

Labor Day is never a big movie-going weekend, and this year could prove to be no different.