Box Office Preview: ‘Help’ will labor to stay put

LOS ANGELES (AP) ? Disney’s “The Help” will be on the job this long Labor Day weekend, trying to fend off all newcomers with about $14 million in domestic receipts as the record-breaking summer movie season comes to a close.

An unstoppable late-summer force since its debut Aug. 10, “The Help” crossed the $100 million mark this past Tuesday as new fans continue to discover the audience-pleasing film.

But if “The Help” wants to advance to a third weekend at No.1, it will have to take one small step for mankind over the Weinstein Co.’s “Apollo 18,” which could blast off in the mid-teens. The film attempts to explain why we never went back to the moon after a “secret” final mission.

Relativity’s “Shark Night 3-D,” the last three-dimensional release of the summer, should take a modest bite out of the box office with a four-day gross in the low teens.

Having already opened on Wednesday with about $1 million, “The Debt” from Focus Features is the third wide-release newcomer this weekend. A decidedly more sophisticated summer release aimed at older audiences, the spy thriller should hunt down about $8 million through Monday.

Rounding out the top five, Sony’s stylish “Colombiana” has been a solid mid-week performer bolstered by strong word-of-mouth and should finish with about $7 million by Monday night.

But Fox’s “Rise of The Planet of the Apes” could also break into the top 5 on its fifth weekend out as it continues its unexpectedly strong success, with a domestic gross of more than $150 million so far.

The summer movie season will end Monday night with Hollywood taking in a record $4.38 billion in domestic receipts, according to projections by, up 0.7 percent from last summer. But factoring in this year’s higher ticket prices, actual attendance will be down 1.4 percent.


Paul Dergarabedian is president of the Box Office Division of and a box office analyst for The Associated Press.