Labor Day weekend is a pretty slow weekend for box office, hardly boffo at all, but one steady hit continued to perform despite the distraction of cookouts and beach going.
1) The Help — $19 million
Whoa! The Help needs no help, that is for darn sure. For the third week in a row, this goo-filled juggernaut has been raging in movie theaters, and the Labor Day weekend and the release of some new shitty movies could not quell the beast. Emma Stone is like officially a big ol' movie star now, right? And Viola Davis will be... what, given a fond squeeze on the shoulder and thanked for her service? OMG, it's just like in the book/movie! Emma Stone bounces off to glamor and riches, while Viola Davis nods her head beatifically and retreats back into the shadows and waits to be asked to serve once more. That's probably a pretty cynical read of everything here, I know, but it's going to rain all week and summer is over, so now is probably the time to be cynical. The Help sucks! Or it doesn't. Either way, it certainly rules.
2) The Debt — $12.5M
OK, so $12 million is a decent amount of people who saw this movie. So tell me: Who is Jessica Chastain? I mean, I know who she is, but, like, what's she like?? She's all anyone can talk about and yet she's like so mysterious or something! But now that you've had history class with her, you have to spill. She always seems so snooty every time I walk by her, but I've never talked to her and you have, so tell me! Is she nice? Do you like her? Where's she from? How old is she? It's so rare that a new girl becomes this popular so quick, so there must be something to her. I'm dying to find out! Tell meee! Or, I guess I could go see this for myself. Or The Help for that matter. But who has time for that.
3) Apollo 18 — $10.7M
When I was a younger person, but not that much younger, I developed in my head the rough outline of a sci-fi mystery movie about something that happened to Sputnik that people were just finding out about now — like an alien contact or something — and it would be all cool and mysterious and like "What happened all those years ago?" chills-causing. But then I realized the central problem. There is nothing cool, scary, or mysterious about the word Sputnik. Nope. The minute you say that word, the whole thing just falls apart. Much the same way that the makers of Apollo 18 should have realized that, no matter how creepy-cool their found-footage story was, the minute the audience thinks the phrase "moon monsters," it's just a big fat ol' Nope from there on out. There is little sillier than the phrase "moon monsters," and though I doubt they say it in the actual movie, it is indeed what the movie is about. So maybe they should have had their Sputnik moment with this one and realized it just wouldn't work. I'd suggest they move the action to Mars or something, but just ask Val Kilmer how well that story goes.
4) Shark Night 3D — $10.3M
So this wasn't exactly the Piranha 3D people were hoping for, numbers wise. Maybe it's because in the trailer, everything seems to happen during the day, so the whole movie seems like a lie. I guess Shark Day doesn't quite work, though. It sounds more like a Kelly Link story than a gory chompfest from the guy that directed Snakes On a Plane. Yes! This movie was directed by a guy named David R. Ellis, a former Hollywood stuntman and now the director of this, Snakes, The Final Destination, and Cellular, among other things. What a career! Would it surprise you at all to learn that a guy with that resume looks like this? I mean, that is someone who is just oozing California, isn't he. That's just a very Only In California life and look right there. Anyway, poor Sara Paxton and Dustin Milligan are gonna have to figure out a new way to pay the rent while they stare bitterly at costar Katherine McPhee and wonder where their Smash is. Where's their Smash??
5) Rise of the Planet of the Apes — $10.2M
You guys just cannot stop watching the apes. America has ape fever. Who ever knew that a disease would come from a monkey and sweep the nation like this? Oh, wait, everyone knew that. Everyone's known that. It's happened and will happen again. This is a tale as old as time, monkeys with their diseases and Americans with their love of monkeys (apes, whatever) and thus inevitable contracting of diseases. Rise of the Planet of the Apes knew that and it preyed on that and we're all suckers and jerks for giving into it once more. Curse you, Franco! Curse you and your successful social science experiments.