On a weekend when the big box office monster was predicted to be Hurricane Irene, it was the housemaids of 'The Help' who, once again, cleaned up after the mess was over. For the second week in a row, 'The Help' was No. 1, with an estimated $14.3 million, fending off newcomers 'Colombiana,' 'Don't Be Afraid of the Dark' and 'Our Idiot Brother.'
While Irene's damper affect on moviegoing throughout the East Coast was expected to throw box office predictions to the wind, Sunday's projections suggest that the storm didn't have as much impact as feared. Totals for most of the top films came in about $1 to $2 million lower than mid-week predictors had guessed. Still, no one was surprised by 'The Help''s repeat victory. After three weeks in theaters, it's still playing on more screens than any of the newcomers, and its strong word-of-mouth ensured that it declined only 28 percent from last weekend. To date, the period dramedy has earned $96.6 million.