By Sarah Sluis
This Labor Day weekend was so quiet, it had the lowest audience attendance in fifteen years, something that doesn't make exhibitors or studios happy. With little competition, The Help coasted right into first place with another $14.6 million, .5% more than the previous weekend. Including Labor Day, the light Southern drama racked up $19 million and currently has $123 million in the pot thanks to its strong holding power.
The Debt, which gave adults the high-quality fare that's been lacking at the summer box office, rightly landed in second place with a $12.5 million four-day total. Sound reviews and support from adult audiences should make the movie a popular choice in subsequent weeks. Last year, Focus released The American over Labor Day weekend, earning $16 million, so The Debt fell short of the benchmark set by that adult thriller.
With two exploitation-style horror movies battling it out over the weekend, neither one shone. Apollo 18, a "found footage" scary sci-fi movie set on the moon, landed at third with a $10.7 million four-daytotal. Shark Night 3D closely followed, with a $10.3 million weekend total. Even with added revenues from 3D screens, the movie still couldn't best Apollo 18.
On the specialty front, two pictures that attracted non-indie audiences shone. Seven Days in Utopia, a faith-based sports movie, averaged $2,900 per screen on 561 screens for a $1.9 million total. Saving Private Perez, an adventure/comedy that sends a Mexican drug lord on a mission to find his brother in Iraq, grabbed the Spanish-speaking audience with $5,000 per screen at 161 locations for an $830,000 total.
Audiences weren't so eager to join in on A Good Old-Fashioned Orgy, which flopped with $825 per screen on 143 screens. IFC's Love Crime, a French-language combination of Working Girl and Single White Female, fared better, with $10,500 per screen at five locations.
This Friday, director Steven Soderbergh's epidemic drama Contagion will open, joined by porn star comedy Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star and the fight movie Warrior.