Butts In Seats | Even <i>The Help</i> Falls To Hurricane Irene

Every Monday we all gather on the Internet or around the proverbial water cooler to discuss how much money such-and-such movie made over the weekend. What does that mean, though? If a movie grosses $500 million in three days, it’s plenty impressive, but how many people actually SAW it? That’s what “Butts in Seats” is all about. Using an average ticket price of $7.86 – the national average ticket price as of Q1 2011 – “Butt in Seats” gives you an idea of just how many people crammed their posteriors into theater seats over the course of the weekend. Note that all figures are rounded to the nearest hundred thousand.

No matter how you slice it, the past weekend was a lousy one for putting Butts into Seats. Hurricane Irene was a major factor here, deterring weekend moviegoers along the entire Eastern seaboard from doing anything outside their homes on Saturday and Sunday.

Everything put in a lower-than-expected performance, with the weekend's top movie The Help coming grossing just $14.3 million in ticket sales, or 1.8 million Butts in Seats. The Buena Vista romantic drama just finished its third week in release, and it continues to perform strongly, shedding less than 30 percent of its audience in comparison to last week and looking at a still-rising box office total of $96.6 million domestically (no worldwide release yet), which equates to roughly 12.3 million Butts in all.

Two of three weekend newcomers stepped up to knock Rise of the Planet of the Apes down from the No. 2 to the No. 4 spot. Colombiana trails behind The Help with $10.3 million in ticket sales, or 1.3 million Butts in Seats.

Behind that is Don't Be Afraid of the Dark, the Guillermo del Toro-produced horror flick adapted from a 1973 TV movie. The $8.7 million in ticket sales equates to roughly 1.1 million Butts. The weekend earnings for Rise of the Planet of the Apes is less than $50,000 below that of Dark, so the attendance numbers are pretty much the same.

The week's final new release, the Paul Rudd-starring comedy Our Idiot Brother sits behind the others in the No. 5 spot. It's the only new release to have earned more than its budgeted this past weekend, with the $6.6 million in ticket sales -- 800,000 Butts in Seats -- breezing past the movie's $5 million budget.

There's really no big takeaway this week. None of the weekend openers were in 3D and the exceedingly poor overall box office performance is largely the result of a hurricane. See you all next week!

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