The Help debuted Wednesday and led the box office with a solid $5.5 million. Disney and DreamWorks’ $25 million drama, based on Kathryn Stockett’s bestselling novel and starring Viola Davis, Emma Stone, Octavia Spencer, and Bryce Dallas Howard, was released on Wednesday to help build buzz heading into the weekend. That strategy should work out well, as The Help has received a rare “A+” grade from CinemaScore audiences, indicating that the PG-13 movie should benefit from excellent word of mouth.
On average, only two movies per year garner an “A+” rating from CinemaScore, a market-research firm that surveys moviegoers on a picture’s opening day. Since 2004, just 15 films have scored an “A+” grade. They are, in chronological order: The Passion of the Christ, Ray, The Incredibles, The Polar Express, Diary of a Mad Black Woman, Cinderella Man, Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Akeelah and the Bee, Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married?, Up, The Blind Side, Tangled, Soul Surfer, and now The Help.
CinemaScore ratings, however, sometimes have to be taken with a grain of salt. After all, the moviegoers who rush out to see a new film on its opening day are likely predisposed to enjoy that particular film. It’s probably safe to assume that many of the CinemaScore graders for The Help were already big fans of the novel, and it’ll be interesting to see whether their enthusiasm spreads to those unfamiliar with the book.
Regardless, The Help has started its theatrical journey strongly and has the potential to become a real late-summer hit. Check back later today for EW’s weekend box-office predictions.