Box Office Update: 'The Help' Launches to a Strong $5.5 Million

Dale Robinette/Dreamworks

The big-screen adaptation of Kathryn Stockett's novel surpassed "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" to top the Wednesday box office and scores a rare A+ CinemaScore.

Tate Taylor's female-fueled The Help got off to an impressive start at the Wednesday box office, grossing $5.5 million and earning a rare A+ CinemaScore.

The movie topped the box office, besting Rise of the Planet of the Apes, which grossed $4.9 million for the day.

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Fans of Kathryn Stockett's novel turned out in force to se the DreamWorks and Disney film, 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.

It's still too early to say how much The Help will open to over the course of its five-day debut. Disney is sticking to its conservative estimate of $20 million, although other box office observers say the film could easily open north of $25 million based on the strength of Wednesday's performance. The final outcome depends upon how front loaded the pic is.

The Help is only the second movie of the year to receive an A+ CinemaSocre after TriStar/Film District's Soul Surfer. Films earning the top score enjoy strong multiples, such as Soul Surfer, which opened to $10.6 million and grossed $43.9 million domestically. Disney's Tangled and the Weinstein Co.'s Oscar winner The King's Speech were the only 2010 releases to receive an A+ CinemaScore. Past winners of the top grade include The Blind Side and Titanic (the top grossing film of all time).

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The Help is benefiting from appealing to female moviegoers otherwise turned off by Hollywood's big summer blockbusters, with women making up 83% of Wednesday's audience. Roughly 78% were over the age of 25.

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. That film opened to $20 million.


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.

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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 also stars Jessica Chastain, Ahna O'Reilly, Allison Janney and Sissy Spacek.

Tate, a childhood friend of Stockett's, makes his feature directorial debut with The Help.