The downtrodden housemaids of 'The Help' cleaned up at the box office. In its second weekend, the film swept away all competition, including last week's winner, 'Rise of the Planet of the Apes,' and four new wide releases - 'Spy Kids: All the Time in the World,' 'Conan the Barbarian,' 'Fright Night' and 'One Day.'
After last weekend's unexpectedly strong opening, 'The Help' added 156 screens this weekend (for a total of 2,690). As a result, the period dramedy drew an estimated $20.5 million, just 21 percent off last weekend's total. Despite the controversy the film has engendered over its depiction of a fraught moment in the Civil Rights era, 'The Help' continues to benefit from excellent word-of-mouth. It's been beating 'Apes' all week, so its victory this weekend was no surprise. In 12 days of release, it's earned $71.8 million, and it should remain a box-office stalwart for the rest of the summer.
'Apes,' too, managed to hold off all newcomers. After two weeks on top, it slipped to second place with an estimated $16.3 million. That's a 41 percent decline from a week ago, which is modest for a movie in its third weekend that's facing competition from at least two new movies for the same audience. To date, 'Apes' has earned $133.7 million.