Weekend Box Office (August 26 - 28, 2011)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND The North American box office slumped to its second lowest point of the year thanks to the lack of a breakout new hit plus a devastating hurricane wiping out plenty of business on the east coast. With tens of millions of people forced to stay home and many theaters shutting down for a day or two, moviegoing took a major hit across a large part of the country. But with films trying to pick up Saturday's lost business on Sunday, and the weather event hitting at a time when the marketplace is generally weak anyway, the overall impact was not incredibly severe.

Topping the chart for a second straight weekend was the sleeper hit The Help which slipped only 27% to $14.5M, according to final studio figures. After 19 days of release, the Disney release has collected a sturdy $96.8M and will break through the $100M mark this week. The Viola Davis starrer averaged $5,233 which was impressive for the third weekend of a non-tentpole film.

The weak marketplace saw consumers spend just $87.7M on the Top 20 films. Only the Super Bowl frame in early February was worse this year with $82M. Box office prospects over the next couple of weeks also look grim with few films hitting theaters that are truly exciting ticket buyers.

The revenge thriller Colombiana led the new releases with an opening weekend score of $10.4M. The Sony release about an assassin hunting down her parents' killers averaged $3,982 from 2,614 locations which was respectable for a late summer film with a hurricane eating into east coast business. Starring Zoe Saldana and produced by Luc Besson, Columbiana did not fare too well with critics, but did connect moderately well with adult women. Studio research showed that 57% of the audience for the PG-13 pic was female and 65% was 25 or older.

Fox's sci-fi prequel Rise of the Planet of the Apes ranked third with $8.9M, down 45% in its fourth frame. The action hit now stands at $148.7M on its way to $170M+.

The horror film Don't Be Afraid of the Dark attracted a soft debut in fourth with $8.5M. Averaging a lackluster $3,089 per site from 2,760 theaters, the R-rated remake suffered from stiff competition being the third fright film in as many weeks to hit the multiplexes. FilmDistrict marketed the thriller as being from producer Guillermo del Toro who has a fan following of his own, but overall interest was not too strong.

The Paul Rudd comedy Our Idiot Brother debuted poorly in fifth place with $7M from 2,555 locations for a wimpy $2,744 average. The summer's latest R-rated comedy earned decent reviews for The Weinstein Co. (which acquired the hot pic at this year's Sundance Film Festival) but lacked the must-see buzz that so many other raunchy comedies earlier this summer had. Often times films work at more specialized events like Sundance or Comic Con, but fail to make much of a mark during a commercial release across 50 states.

A pair of 3D kidpics followed. In its second weekend, Spy Kids: All the Time in the World fell 48% to $6M for The Weinstein Co. With $22M in ten days, the PG-rated fourquel should finish with around $35M making it the lowest-grossing installment by far. Faring much better with families, The Smurfs slipped only 39% to $4.8M giving Sony a hefty $125.9M to date. The Smurfette pic has been the dominant choice for kids in the second half of summer.

The 3D remake Conan the Barbarian collapsed by 68% in its second weekend to $3.2M for a weak $16.7M sum in ten days. The big-budget actioner looks to end its weak run with only $20-23M. Fellow sophomore 80s redo Fright Night also fell sharply tumbling 60% to $3.1M for a dull $14.3M total. Look for the 3D Disney release to finish up with only $20M. Rounding out the top ten was the hit divorce comedy Crazy, Stupid, Love with $3.1M, off 35%, for a $69.7M cume. The Warner Bros. film may reach $80M.

The top ten films grossed $69.5M which was down 20% from last year when Takers opened with $20.5M; and down 34% from 2009 when The Final Destination debuted on top with $27.4M.

Compared to projections, Columbiana opened very close to my $11M forecast while Don't Be Afraid of the Dark debuted close to my $10M prediction. Our Idiot Brother bowed near to my $8M projection and The Help was very close to my $15M forecast.

Get earlier box office updates and analysis by following BoxOfficeGuru.com on Twitter. For a review of Captain America visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when \Shark Night 3D, The Debt, and Apollo 18 all open.

Marketplace - Shop for DVDs, electronics, books, and posters at discounted prices:

# Title Aug 26 - 28 Aug 19 - 21 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 The Help $ 14,536,118 $ 20,018,659 -27.4 2,778 3 $ 5,233 $ 96,833,423 Disney
2 Colombiana 10,408,176 2,614 1 3,982 10,408,176 Sony
3 Rise of the Planet of the Apes 8,867,741 16,119,502 -45.0 3,346 4 2,650 148,674,018 Fox
4 Don't Be Afraid of the Dark 8,525,728 2,760 1 3,089 8,525,728 FilmDistrict
5 Our Idiot Brother 7,011,631 2,555 1 2,744 7,011,631 Weinstein Co.
6 Spy Kids: All the Time in the World 6,007,180 11,644,672 -48.4 3,305 2 1,818 21,990,229 Weinstein Co.
7 The Smurfs 4,754,766 7,802,377 -39.1 2,861 5 1,662 125,948,234 Sony
8 Conan the Barbarian 3,185,094 10,021,215 -68.2 3,015 2 1,056 16,660,669 Lionsgate
9 Crazy, Stupid, Love 3,108,178 4,797,364 -35.2 1,577 5 1,971 69,732,502 Warner Bros.
10 Fright Night 3,103,227 7,714,388 -59.8 3,114 2 997 14,281,778 Disney
11 30 Minutes or Less 2,687,165 6,402,602 -58.0 2,071 3 1,298 31,789,438 Sony
12 Harry Potter / Deathy Hallows Part 2 2,564,370 4,511,411 -43.2 1,328 7 1,931 370,805,062 Warner Bros.
13 Final Destination 5 2,555,039 7,703,466 -66.8 2,085 3 1,225 37,914,984 Warner Bros.
14 One Day 2,516,061 5,079,566 -50.5 1,725 2 1,459 9,789,523 Focus
15 Cowboys & Aliens 2,377,475 4,215,780 -43.6 1,559 5 1,525 93,523,950 Universal
16 Captain America 2,248,438 4,115,529 -45.4 1,424 6 1,579 168,770,306 Paramount
17 The Change-Up 1,202,440 2,824,945 -57.4 904 4 1,330 34,495,575 Universal
18 Midnight in Paris 743,594 552,103 34.7 652 15 1,140 51,643,081 Sony Classics
19 Transformers: Dark of the Moon 640,253 606,276 5.6 518 9 1,236 349,457,208 Paramount
20 Horrible Bosses 639,246 1,279,350 -50.0 465 8 1,375 113,815,151 Warner Bros.
Top 5 $ 49,349,394 $ 65,606,425 -24.8
Top 10 69,507,839 97,303,811 -28.6
Top 20 87,681,920 118,517,522 -26.0
Top 20 vs. 2010 87,681,920 108,651,482 -19.3

Last Updated: August 29, 2011 at 4:50PM ET

Watch Gitesh Pandya's weekly box office preview on CNN International airing live each Thursday at 7:40pm ET.