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There’s no slowing down DreamWorks and Participant Media’s The Help, which is poised to become the first film this year to come in No. 1 for three consecutive weekends. The pic easily won the Friday race, grossing an estimated $3.6 million and putting the late-summer box office hit on course to earn a better-than-expected $17 million for the four-day weekend.
The Help, with a cume of $108 million through Friday, will hit $120 million by Monday.
The Debt, from Focus Features and Miramax, also is overperforming. Opening on Wednesday, the Helen Mirren thriller grossed an estimated $2.6 million on Friday for a stellar three-day total of $4.5 million—ahead of the $4 million grossed by The Constant Gardener, another Focus Labor Day release, in its first three days. (Focus has pioneered using the summer-end holiday for adult fare.)
The Debt now has a strong shot at placing an unexpected No. 2 for the four-day weekend with a gross of $12 million—even though it is playing in far fewer theaters than its competitors, or 1,826 locations. That puts its six-day debut at roughly $14 million, outapacing predictions. Constant Gardener, which turned into a sleeper hit, earned $12 million in its first six days.
Found-footage sci fi thriller Apollo 18, from the Weinstein Co., and Shark Night, distributed by Relativity, were in a dead heat on Friday, each grossing an estimated $2.8 million from 3,328 theaters and 2,086 theaters, respectively. Neither film seemed to particularly please audiences: Apollo 18 received a dismal D CinemaScore, while Shark Night drew a C.
While Shark Night and Apollo 18 paced slightly ahead of The Debt of Friday, they are predicted to begin falling behind, since adult-themed films pick up traffic on Saturday.
Shark Night and Apollo 18 are expected to come in around $10 million, if not lower, for the four days. Heading into the weekend, tracking showed Apollo 18 grossing $11 million to $14 million for the four-day weekend, while Shark Night—which didn’t show the same level of heat as Apollo 18–was expected to earn $7 million to $8 million.
Apollo 18 only cost $5 million to produce, so the Weinstein Co. isn’t financially at risk; however, it’s the third weekend in a row that the company has seen one of its film underperform.
As expected, Apollo 18– produced by Timur Bekmambetov and Ron Schmidt—appealed heavily to males, who made up 59% of the audience, while 64% of those buying tickets were over the age of 25.
Apollo 18 is impressive for coming together in less than a year; Dimension and Bekmambetov introduced the project to foreign buyers at last November’s American Film Market.
Director David Ellis’ Shark Night, fully financed and produced by Incentive Filmed Entertainment and Sierra/Affinity, is relying on younger moviegoers. Exit polling showed that 57% of Friday night’s audience was under the age of 25, while 53% of the audience was male.
Relativity, which is releasing Shark Night, put up all marketing costs, while Sierra/Affinity covered much of the pic’s production budget (just under $30 million after tax rebates) through foreign presales. The movie begins its international rollout this weekend when opening in Russia.
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