While four new movies are being rolled out nationwide today, The Help could take the top spot at the box office this weekend, despite being number two when it opened last weekend. The film, based on Kathryn Stockett’s best-selling novel by the same name, has come in at number one in the box office every day this week, but was inched out of the top spot last weekend by Rise of the Planet of the Apes in its second weekend, which will likely be competition for this weekend’s newbies as well.
Vying for same male audience that helped Apes bring in $115 million as of Wednesday are the big-budget remake Conan the Barbarian, being released by Lionsgate and Nu Image/Millenium, and DreamWorks’ remake Fright Night, starring Colin Farrell and Anton Yelchin. Fright Night is the most popular of the films opening this weekend among critics, but hasn’t been tracking well, and expects to draw $12 million to $13 million this weekend. Conan is tracking only slightly better, but cost considerably more to make. While Fright Night cost under $20 million to produce, Conan cost over $70 million.
The other two films being released this weekend will appeal to decidedly different audiences. The first is Spy Kids: All the Time in the World in 4D, from Weinstein Co./Dimension. If you haven’t heard of any of the previous Spy Kids films and the title didn’t tip you off, the film’s target audience is significantly younger than that of the R-rated Conan and Fright Night. But don’t let the title fool you — Spy Kids will be released in 3D, not in 4D, as will Conan and Fright Night. And throwing another gimmick into the mix, Spy Kids 4D tickets will come with an Aroma-scope, which has scratch-and-sniff numbers on a card that correspond to numbers that will flash on the screen at different points in the movie. The film is projected to pull in $10 million to $15 million this weekend.
Posing the only real threat to The Help in terms of audience appeal will be One Day, a Focus Features romantic drama starring Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess, based on the best-selling novel by David Nicholls. But with a strong lead-in and positive word of mouth, it shouldn’t be too great a task for The Help to outperform One Day, which is only opening in 1,719 theaters. The Focus and Random House-produced film could count itself successful if it were to gross anything over $6 million this weekend, as it only cost $20 million to make. It will likely do better in the U.K., where the story is based and where the book has been decidedly more popular, when it is released August 24. Still, U.S. sales could surprise, as the book has been pushed up to number 3 on The New York Times bestseller list in recent weeks, ahead of the film’s release.