Apes likely to swing higher than The Help

Four new films are opening in theaters this weekend, but it’s unlikely any of them will be able to end the box office reign of “Planet of the Apes.” The movie’s new competitors include literary adaptation “The Help,” the only film with a shot at beating {{more}} “Apes,” horror sequel “Final Destination 5,” R-rated comedy “30 Minutes or Less” and “Glee: The 3-D Concert Movie,” based on the popular TV show.

“Apes,” a prequel to the 1968 classic that explores how simians overtook the planet, was the No. 1 film with audiences last weekend, raking in a solid $54.8 million domestically. In the days following its debut, the movie has performed well at the box office, grossing $18.2 million from Monday through Wednesday. That indicates that word of mouth is strong for the film, which moviegoers last weekend assigned an average grade of A-, according to market research firm CinemaScore. Fox is hoping that the film’s ticket sales will fall less than 50% this weekend, meaning the movie could collect close to $30 million.

The only film that has a chance of rising above “Apes,” according to pre-release surveys of moviegoers, is “The Help,” an adaptation of Kathryn Stockett’s bestselling novel about civil rights in the 1960s. In an attempt to build positive buzz before the crowded weekend, the movie opened on Wednesday and sold a strong $5.5 million of tickets. It should take in another $25 million from Friday through Sunday, putting its total by the end of the weekend at more than $30 million.

People who saw “The Help,” which features an ensemble cast led by Viola Davis and Emma Stone, on Wednesday gave it a perfect score of A+, echoing largely positive reviews. Older females who were fans of the book have so far made up the largest segment of the audience for the film, which was financed by DreamWorks SKG and Participant Media for about $25 million and is being distributed by Walt Disney Studios.

The studios are hoping “The Help” will resonate particularly well with African Americans and in the South, as it takes place in Mississippi. On Wednesday, the picture did especially strong business in Jackson, Miss., Dallas and Chicago.

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