‘The Help’ Rises to No. 1 Film With $20 Million in Sales

The civil rights-era drama “The Help” rose to No. 1 in its second weekend in U.S. and Canadian theaters, taking in $20 million for Walt Disney Co. (DIS) and Steven Spielberg’s DreamWorks Studios SKG.

The film, about the tension between black maids and their white employers in 1960s Mississippi, displaced “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” Hollywood.com Box-Office said yesterday in an e-mailed statement. The film from News Corp. (NWSA) slipped to second after two weeks in first place.

“The Help,” based on the Kathryn Stockett novel, has generated $71.3 million since it opened on Aug. 10. The film is the third from Disney to reach first place in box-office sales this year, following “Cars 2” and “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.” Disney is distributing the film for DreamWorks Studios.

“‘The Help’ is the perfect example of a word-of-mouth film, where success is built upon people telling their friends about it and social networking about it,” said Paul Dergarabedian, president of the box-office division of Hollywood.com.

“The Help” stars Emma Stone as an aspiring journalist who writes about the experiences of black maids in racially segregated Mississippi. The film explores relations between middle-class white women and the blacks who work in their homes.

‘Spy Kids’

Octavia Spencer and Viola Davis co-star as the black women who cope with mixed emotions caring for their employers’ white children while enduring insults from the mothers.

“Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” the prequel to the 1968 classic, had $16.1 million in receipts. The movie revives the franchise that began with the original film about a world where apes dominate humans. Six previous movies have generated $691.3 million in domestic ticket sales, according to Box Office Mojo, an industry tracker.

The film stars James Franco and has taken in $133.6 million in the U.S. and Canada since it opened Aug. 5.

Weinstein Co.’s “Spy Kids: All the Time in the World,” one of four movies opening this past weekend, finished third with $11.6 million. The movie is the fourth in the series of children’s movies by “Sin City” director Robert Rodriguez.

In the latest film, distributed by Dimension Films, Jessica Alba stars as a retired spy who juggles motherhood and marriage after being called back to service. The children join the action after learning about their stepmother’s past. Danny Trejo co- stars as Uncle Machete.

‘Conan’

Two other films making their debuts rounded out the top five.

“Conan The Barbarian,” a remake of the 1982 film that launched Arnold Schwarzenegger’s film career, finished fourth with $10 million. The film follows the warrior, inspired by the character created by Robert E. Howards, as he seeks to avenge the massacre of his village. His mission grows into a quest to battle a supernatural evil.

“Fright Night,” a remake of the 1985 motion picture, was fifth with sales of $8.1 million. In the film a teenager, played by Anton Yelchin, is convinced that a new neighbor portrayed by Colin Farrell is a vampire.

The romantic drama “One Day” also opened this past weekend with $5.1 million to finish ninth. In the film, Anne Hathaway plays a working-class British woman who falls for a wealthy charmer played by Jim Sturgess. The movie is from Focus Features, part of Comcast Corp. (CMCSA)’s Universal Pictures.

Weekend revenue for the top 12 films fell 3.5 percent to $106.4 million from a year earlier, Hollywood.com said. Domestic box-office sales this year have declined 4.1 percent to $7.13 billion, while attendance is down 5.1 percent.

The amounts below are based on actual ticket sales for Aug. 19 through today.

                      Rev.             Avg./    Pct.   Total
Movie                (mln) Theaters  Theater    Chg.   (mln) Wks
================================================================
 1 THE HELP          $20.0   2,690   $7,442    -23    $71.3    2
 2 PLANET OF APES     16.1   3,471    4,644    -42    133.6    3
 3 SPY KIDS 4         11.6   3,295    3,534     --     11.6    1
 4 CONAN BARBARIAN    10.0   3,015    3,324     --     10.0    1
 5 FRIGHT NIGHT        8.1   3,114    2,606     --      8.1    1
 6 THE SMURFS          7.8   3,057    2,552    -43    117.5    4
 7 FINAL DESTINATION 5 7.7   3,155    2,442    -57     32.3    2
 8 30 MINUTES OR LESS  6.4   2,888    2,217    -52     25.9    2
 9 ONE DAY             5.1   1,721    2,952     --      5.1    1
10 CRAZY,STUPID,LOVE   4.8   1,940    2,473    -32     64.3    4
11 HARRY POTTER        4.5   1,738    2,596    -38    366.0    6
12 COWBOYS & ALIENS    4.2   2,213    1,905    -46     89.5    4


Top 12 Films Grosses

   This Week     Year Ago      Pct.
     (mln)         (mln)       Chg.
===================================
    $106.4        $110.3      -3.5


Year-to-date Revenue

     2011          2010
      YTD           YTD        Pct.
     (mln)         (mln)       Chg.
===================================
    $7,130        $7,435      -4.1


Year-to-date Attendance:     -5.1%

To contact the reporters on this story: Michael White in Los Angeles at mwhite8@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Palazzo at apalazzo@bloomberg.net

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