The box office needed some help this past weekend. For that matter, so did The Help, which fell to second place after holding on to the top position three weeks in a row. It is a measure of how poorly the box office behaved as a whole -- it produced the lowest total of the year -- that The Help was able to nab No. 2 with only about $8.7 million. Warner Bros.' disaster flick Contagion took over the lead with an estimated $23.1 million, about what forecasters said it would earn. But Lionsgate's Warrior , despite terrific reviews, opened with only $5.6 million, below predictions. And Sony's Adam Sandler-produced comedy Bucky Larson Born to Be a Star was born to be a flop, as it earned a measly $1.5 million and failed even to make the top ten. Think that was bad? The horror flick Creature took in just $331,000. BoxOfficeMojo.com observed that it was the worst opening ever for a movie playing at 1,500 locations or more, with per-screen attendance averaging just six persons. Actually, only Contagion, The Help, and Bucky Larson earned more than $5 million, with all of the top ten films together garnering just $61.9 million. The comparable weekend a year ago also achieved the nadir-of-the-year prize, with an almost identical $61.8 million.

The top ten films for the weekend, according to studio estimates compiled by Box Office Mojo 1. Contagion , $23.1 million; 2. The Help, $8.7 million; 3. Warrior, $5.6 million; 4. The Debt , $4.9 million; 5. Colombiana, $4 million; 6. Rise of the Planet Of The Apes, $3.8 million; 7. Shark Night 3D , $3.5 million; 8. Apollo 18, $2.9 million; 9. Our Idiot Brother , $2.7 million; 10. Spy Kids All the Time in the World , $2.5 million.

12/09/2011