So Nice They See It (at Least) Twice

Dale Robinette/DreamWorks II

Call them The Helpers. They're the throng of moviegoers -- most of them women -- who have seen "The Help" more than once.

As it completed its eighth weekend, Help was playing in virtually the same number of theaters in which it opened, about 2,500. That's almost unheard of for a 2-month-old movie and suggests a healthy dose of repeat business. With a domestic take of $160 million, the film is close to becoming the top-grossing female ensemble movie of all time. And the DreamWorks/Participant Media production is about to pass Bridesmaids -- yes, it's been a good year for female-oriented movies -- to become the No. 10 movie at the 2011 domestic box office and the only nonfranchise film in the year's top 10. Studios don't do exit polling after opening weekend, so there's no statistical breakdown of who exactly comprises its current audience. But common sense (and plenty of anecdotal evidence) says a substantial number of women have seen Help more than once, just as they fueled the success of Titanic in 1997-98. A poll conducted on the movie's Facebook page supports that: 2,127 people said they've seen the movie once; 653, two times; 157, three times; 23, four times; and 39, four times. One fan even boasted she'd seen it eight or nine times. In other words, 29 percent of poll respondents saw it more than once. "The Help fans seem to want to bask in the company of characters they love and a message of hope and courage that inspires them," says DreamWorks co-chairman Stacey Snider. "In general, I think that recent movies have focused on transporting the audience visually through spectacular visual effects. The Help transports the audience by immersing it in a human experience." The Facebook poll also offers a hint about the coming awards season. Asked to pick a favorite character, the fans' most popular choice is Minnie, played by Octavia Spencer, who has to be considered a strong contender in the supporting actress category.

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