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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.
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.
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.
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