Weekend Box Office: THE HELP Tops Slower Receipts For August 19-21 Weekend

In a slower Summer weekend than expected, THE HELP topped the pack with about $20.5 million in receipts. The slower weekend was something of a surprise considering that many quality films that should have a bigger appeal are playing right now. THE HELP actually slipped more than 21% from last week’s gross, yet managed to stay ahead of the pack which was a pretty good omen of how weak of a weekend this box office overall take was. Several factors including some last minute vacations before school starts as well as the bad economy may be to blame for the dismal results.

RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES slid more than 41% in box office gross receipts, yet claimed second place on the charts this weekend, with a $16.3 million take. However, SPY KIDS: ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD had a weak opening at just $12 million. However, with just a $27 million budget, Disney probably hopes to make as much as they can marketing some lower budgeted films through the theaters and DVD/BluRay sales as an economy move. Disney might be a little skittish to invest big money in risky films and possibly lose millions on the deals.

But, perhaps the biggest disappointing opening was the terrible #4 and $10 million performance by the 2011 remake of CONAN THE BARBARIAN. The film has gotten generally bad reviews for forsaking quality acting and dialog for the sake of the 3D effects. Further, lacking a strong on-screen presence such as Arnold Schwarzenegger only relegates this film to the junk-heap. For the $90 million spent producing this film, the mere $10 million gross take is absolutely horrible.

THE SMURFS grabbed #5 with an $8 million weekend. In it’s fourth weekend out there, the film has already took in $117 million, which is slightly better than it’s $110 million budget. At this rate, the film should eventually be a money maker with future 2nd run box office and DVD/BluRay sales. A SMURFS 2 might well follow now.

The public really wasn’t in a horror show type mood, yet the very good remake of FRIGHT NIGHT drew a few to theaters at #6 and a $7.9 million dollar weekend compared to it’s $30 million budget, meaning that the film has some slow work to be profitable over the weeks and capture enough future DVD/BluRay sales to even break even or make money. For a horror show with very good critical reviews, the slow weekend gross must be a real disappointment to the producers.

But, the biggest box office horror disappointment so far has to be the lukewarm critically rated FINAL DESTINATION 5 which has only taken in just $32.3 million in two weeks time compared to the big $40 million budget for the latest installment in the franchise, where the budgets have steadily climbed as the films began to grow in popularity. The last installment in the series took in $186 million worldwide on a $43 million investment. Unless the final figures really improve for this latest film, then this may indeed really be THE FINAL DESTINATION for the series, where the producers may think that this genre is all played out and now suffering from audience fatigue. At just #7 and a lowly $7.7 million gross this franchise may be nearing it’s last stop for it’s second weekend since release.

At #8 was 30 MINUTES OR LESS, with a $6.3 million gross. And with a $25 million budget and a $28 million take so far, this project will be seen as eventually narrowly profitable for the producers.

ONE DAY, the #9 rated box office gross film, might be in some financial trouble. It only took in just $5.1 million against $15 million budget, meaning that it might be hard to sell enough DVDs etc. to finally show a profit here. It’s sad when producers invest so much money in entertainment and only lose money. That hardly encourages big risks or new projects.

CRAZY, STUPID, LOVE rounded out the top ten with $4.9 million gross. Costing $50 million to produce, this film has made more than $64 million in it’s fourth week out there making it a money maker for the producers.

But, just beyond the top ten films this weekend are some important film industry stories. At #11 is the latest HARRY POTTER installment , which has taken in $365.9 in it’s $250 million dollar budget it shared when it was shot with HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PT. 1. This series is pure spun gold, and has to be sad to the producers that it’s ending. Some film franchises make money. Lots of money!

At #12 is the flip side of making good box office money. The poorly critically reviewed COWBOYS & ALIENS had just about a $4.2 weekend in it’s fourth weekend since release. With a huge $163 million dollar budget and just a lousy gross of about $89.5 million, this film could rate as one of the biggest box office bombs this Summer. Of the current films, only the new CONAN looks to be a worse investment for the producers.

At #13, but hardly unlucky, is CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER, which may have only taken in $4.1 in it’s fifth week since release. But, that’s fine. On a $140 million investment the film has brought back $164.7 in gross box office receipts. All told, this film will make money for the producers with a big afterlife in DVDs and BluRay yet to follow in the future.

If anything, this past weekend’s box office gross receipts paint a gloomy picture for the movie industry of a weak economy, fickle audiences and late Summer vacations all contributing to a slower foot traffic and lower grossing late Summer box office weekend. That’s hardly a faith inspiring weekend for producers and investors to lay down massive chunks of money on risky projects. If weak box office trends continue or the economy nosedives into another recession, then you can expect much lower budget movies to be made as producers seek to limit their risks.

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