*Viola Davis’ “The Help” got off to an impressive start at the Wednesday box office, grossing at least $5 million in its first day and earning a rare A+ CinemaScore from folks who came out to see it, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
DreamWorks and Disney decided to open the movie midweek to build buzz going into the weekend. And the move appears to be paying off, with fans of Kathryn Stockett’s novel turning out in force.
It’s still too early to say how much The Help will open to over the course of its five-day debut. Disney has estimated a total of $20 by Monday, although other box office observers say the film could easily open north of $25 million based on Wednesday’s performance.
Meanwhile, “The Help” is only the second movie of the year to receive an A+ CinemaSocre after TriStar/Film District’s “Soul Surfer.’ According to the “Hollywood Reporter,” films earning the top score enjoy strong multiples, such as “Soul Surfer,” which opened to $10.6 million and grossed $43.9 million domestically. Disney’s “Tangled” and Disney/Pixar’s “Toy Story 3,” both released in 2010, also received A+ CinemaScores and enjoyed similar multiples.
“The Help” is benefiting from appealing to female moviegoers otherwise turned off by Hollywood’s big summer blockbusters, with women making up 83% of Wednesday’s audience. Roughly 78% were over the age of 25.
Set in the early 1960s in Jackson, Miss., “The Help” explores the complicated relationships between white women and their maids, and what happens when a young white journalist exposes how the maids are treated.
DreamWorks and Participant Media co-financed the $25 million the movie, which was directed by Tate Taylor and produced by Chris Columbus and Mike Barnathan’s 1492 Pictures. The film is already drawing awards buzz for its performances.
A survey of 1,000 moviegoers by online ticketing service Fandango found that 77% of those interested in seeing “The Help” had read the book, while 95% reported that the film’s surprising comic relief makes them more interested in seeing the film. And nearly 70% said they were looking forward to seeing a summer movie with substance.