1. Headline
  1. Headline
Image: The Help
Dale Robinette  /  Dreamworks
Minny Jackson (Octavia Spencer, left) shares a laugh with her best friend Aibileen Clark (Viola Davis), in "The Help."
updated 9/5/2011 12:00:36 PM ET 2011-09-05T16:00:36

"The Help" stayed on the job over Labor Day, finishing as the No. 1 film for the third-straight weekend.

The acclaimed drama about Southern black maids speaking out during the civil-rights movement took in $19 million over the long holiday weekend, according to studio estimates Monday.

That raised the film's domestic total to $123.4 million. "The Help" also has begun rolling out overseas, pulling in $1.7 million in its first international market, Australia.

A DreamWorks Pictures release distributed by Disney, "The Help" has been a triumph amid a rush of late-summer duds that ended Hollywood's busiest season. Another batch of new movies this weekend packed in modest to small crowds.

  1. More Entertainment stories
    1. Autistic ballerina dances her way into hearts

      In a popular YouTube video, the beaming little ballerina dances an entire four-minute routine seemingly perfectly, matchin...

    2. Every on-screen drink in 'Mad Men' in 5 minutes
    3. See the 'Dancing' stars' most memorable moves
    4. Emmy's biggest snubs? Cranston, Hamm, more
    5. 'Toy Story' toys burn up in prank on mom

"'The Help' is literally in a league of its own at the end of a summer movie season where the competition was virtually non-existent," said Paul Dergarabedian, box-office analyst for Hollywood.com. "It's a really good movie that happened to land in the perfect spot at the perfect time. They are really just reaping the benefit of the worst dog days of August that we have seen in years."

Best among the newcomers was Focus Features' Holocaust-revenge thriller "The Debt" at No. 2 with $12.6 million from Friday to Monday. "The Debt" stars Helen Mirren and features "The Help" co-star Jessica Chastain.

The Weinstein Co. sci-fi horror tale "Apollo 18" opened at No. 3 with $10.7 million. Another fright flick, Relativity Media's "Shark Night 3D," debuted at No. 4 with $10.3 million.

Weekend box office

A handful of other movies opened in narrower release well outside the weekend's top 10, including Visio Entertainment's golf drama "Seven Days in Utopia," which stars Robert Duvall and Lucas Black and pulled in a modest $1.6 million.

Pantelion Films' action comedy "Saving Private Perez" debuted with $830,000, while Samuel Goldwyn Films' sex comedy "A Good Old Fashioned Orgy" opened with just $153,000.

While holdover films almost always have big drops in revenue in subsequent weekends, "The Help" did the same business this past Friday to Sunday as it did a week earlier.

Starring Viola Davis, Emma Stone and Octavia Spencer, "The Help" has followed the path of the book on which it is based, which became a literary phenomenon through word-of-mouth among readers.

The film began solidly with a No. 2 opening, then rose to its three-week reign at No. 1 as fans talked it up to friends.

Story: 'The Help' is too glib about its thorny issues

"The Help" gave Hollywood a slight boost over Labor Day weekend a year ago. Overall domestic revenues for the four days came in at $139 million, up 5 percent from the same weekend last year, when "The American" opened at No. 1 with $16.7 million, according to Hollywood.com.

Domestic receipts from the first weekend in May through Labor Day finished at about $4.38 billion, up a fraction from summer 2010 revenues, Hollywood.com estimates.

Story: 'The Debt' offers new take on Nazi-hunter genre

But factoring in this year's higher ticket prices, actual movie attendance was down slightly, the fourth-straight summer that admissions have dropped.

Overseas, the family smash "The Smurfs" continued to dominate, pulling in $23.3 million to pad its international total to $295.8 million and its worldwide haul to about $430 million. "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" ran second internationally with $19.4 million, lifting its overseas take to $186.5 million and its worldwide total to about $350 million.

Story: 'Apollo 18': Blair Witch in space, in a good way

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video: Watch 'The Help' trailer

Photos: September movies

loading photos...
  1. 'Apollo 18'

    Stars: Lloyd Owen, Warren Christie

    Director: Gonzalo López-Gallego

    Scheduled release date: Sept. 2

    Think there wasn't an "Apollo 18" lunar mission? Think again. Decades-old found footage from the supposed secret expedition reveals the reason the U.S. has never returned to the moon. Hint: Didja see "Alien"? (The Weinstein Company) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. 'The Debt'

    Stars: Helen Mirren, Sam Worthington and Tom Wilkinson

    Director: John Madden

    Scheduled release date: Sept. 2

    "The Debt" begins in 1997, as shocking news reaches retired Mossad secret agents Rachel (Mirren) and Stefan (Wilkinson) about their former colleague David. The group supposedly tracked down a Nazi war criminal in 1966 -- or did they? (Miramax Films) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. 'Shark Night 3D'

    Stars: Sara Paxton, Dustin Milligan and Alyssa Diaz

    Director: David R. Ellis

    Scheduled release date: Sept. 2

    The title, "Sharl Night 3D," says it all. But sharks in a freshwater lake? Hollywood will do anything to get the blood, bikinis and severed limbs flying in 3-D. (Relativity Media) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. 'A Good Old Fashioned Orgy'

    Stars: Jason Sudeikis, Leslie Bibb and Tyler Labine

    Directors: Alex Gregory, Peter Huyck

    Scheduled release date: Sept. 2

    In "A Good Old Fashioned Orgy," Jason Sudeikis and pals have partied for years at his dad's beach house. But when dad (Don Johnson) announces he's selling the place, his son decides it's time for the ultimate party. (Samuel Goldwyn Films) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. 'Contagion'

    Stars: Matt Damon, Kate Winslet and Jude Law

    Director: Steven Soderbergh

    Scheduled release date: Sept. 9

    Have your face masks ready -- you'll want one after seeing "Contagion." The action thriller follows people trying to survive a lethal virus. Big stars abound, and it sure looks like from promos that things don't go well for Gwyneth Paltrow. (Warner Bros) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. 'Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star'

    Stars: Nick Swardson, Don Johnson and Christina Ricci

    Director: Tom Brady

    Scheduled release date: Sept. 9

    "Bucky Larson" is a kid from the Midwest who moves out to Hollywood in order to follow in his parents footsteps -- which for him, means becoming a porn star. (Columbia Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. 'Warrior'

    Stars: Tom Hardy, Nick Nolte and Joel Edgerton

    Director: Gavin O'Connor

    Scheduled release date: Sept. 9

    In "Warrior," two estranged brothers face the fight of a lifetime. Nick Nolte plays their alcoholic dad, who trains one to eventually land in the ring against the other in a mixed martial-arts tournament. (Chuck Zlotnick) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. 'Straw Dogs'

    Stars: James Marsden, Kate Bosworth and Alexander Skarsgard

    Director: Rod Lurie

    Scheduled release date: Sept. 16

    "Straw Dogs" is a remake of the 1971 Dustin Hoffman thriller, infamous for its controversial rape scene. L.A. screenwriter David Sumner relocates with his wife to her hometown in the deep South. There, while tensions build between them, a brewing conflict with locals becomes a threat to them both. (Screen Gems) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. 'I Don't Know How She Does It'

    Stars: Sarah Jessica Parker, Pierce Brosnan and Kelsey Grammer

    Director: Douglas McGrath

    Scheduled release date: Sept. 16

    "I Don't Know How She Does It" is a comedy centered on the life of Kate Reddy (Parker), a finance executive who is the breadwinner for her husband and two kids. Based on the best-selling novel. (The Weinstein Company) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. 'Drive'

    Stars: Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan and Bryan Cranston

    Director: Nicolas Winding Refn

    Scheduled release date: Sept. 16

    In "Drive," Gosling plays a Hollywood stunt performer who moonlights as a wheelman. After a heist goes wrong, he discovers that a contract has been put on his life. (Richard Foreman Jr Smpsp / FilmDistrict) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. 'Moneyball'

    Stars: Brad Pitt, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Robin Wright and Jonah Hill

    Director: Bennett Miller

    Scheduled release date: Sept. 23

    Brad Pitt stars as Oakland A's manager Billy Beane in "Moneyball," based on Michael Lewis' book. The focus is on Beane's attempt to create a competitive team despite Oakland's unfavorable financial situation. (Columbia Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. 'Abduction'

    Stars: Taylor Lautner, Lily Collins and Alfred Molina

    Director: John Singleton

    Scheduled release date: Sept. 23

    In "Abduction," Taylor Lautner plays a young man who sets out to uncover the truth about his life after finding his baby photo on a missing persons website. (Lionsgate) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. 'Dolphin Tale'

    Stars: Morgan Freeman, Ashley Judd and Harry Connick Jr.

    Director: Charles Martin Smith

    Scheduled release date: Sept. 23

    IThe 3-D film "Dolphin Tale" is is inspired by the true story of a bottlenose dolphin named Winter who lost her tail in a crab trap. Her human friends work frantically to create a prosthetic so she can still swim. (Warner Bros.) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. 'Dream House'

    Stars: Daniel Craig, Rachel Weisz and Naomi Watts

    Director: Jim Sheridan

    Scheduled release date: Sept. 30

    The beautiful home in "Dream House" is more of a nightmare. Soon after moving in, a family learns that a mother and her children were brutally murdered there. (Universal Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. '50/50'

    Stars: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen and Anna Kendrick

    Director: Jonathan Levine

    Scheduled release date: Sept. 30

    "50/50" is a comedic account of a 27-year-old man's cancer diagnosis, and his subsequent struggle to beat the disease. (Summit Entertainment) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. 'Killer Elite'

    Stars: Jason Statham, Clive Owen and Robert De Niro

    Director: Gary McKendry

    Scheduled release date: Sept. 30

    Action film "Killer Elite" focuses on a retired member of Britain's Elite Special Air Service (Jason Statham) who is forced into action when his mentor (Robert De Niro) is taken hostage. His mission: kill three assassins dispatched by their cunning leader (Clive Owen). (Open Road Films) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. 'What's Your Number?'

    Stars: Anna Faris, Chris Pratt and Chris Evans

    Director: Mark Mylod

    Scheduled release date: Sept. 30

    "What's Your Number?" refers to the number of men a woman has slept with. Anna Faris plays Ally, a woman whose number is 20, as she looks back at those men wondering if any of them are her true love. (20th Century Fox) Back to slideshow navigation
  1. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  2. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  3. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  4. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

More on TODAY.com

  1. TODAY

    video Duchess Kate climbs into fighter jet — wearing a dress and heels!

    4/19/2014 3:42:12 PM +00:00 2014-04-19T15:42:12
  1. TODAY

    video Young heroes: Twins fight off carjacker

    4/19/2014 2:47:18 PM +00:00 2014-04-19T14:47:18
  1. Dylan Dreyer / TODAY

    The gang is back together! Prove you’re a big fan of Weekend TODAY

    4/19/2014 11:14:33 AM +00:00 2014-04-19T11:14:33
  1. Jacek Turczyk / EPA file

    Busted! 81 percent of parents steal Easter candy from their kids

    4/19/2014 3:12:08 PM +00:00 2014-04-19T15:12:08