April 23, 2014

“The Help” earns A+ from early audiences


By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: Tate Taylor’s adaptation of Kathryn Stockett’s “The Help” opened around the country on Wednesday night and scored two major victories.

First, the Civil Rights drama pocketed an estimated $5.5 million in grosses, establishing itself as a box-office contender (which is crucial to the film’s pending Oscar campaign).

Second — and perhaps more important to Taylor, Stockett and their cast — the films is playing like gangbusters with its fan base, many of whom read the book and came to the theater hoping “The Help” lived up to the hype.

THR reports that the drama, which stars Emma Stone as a fledgling journalist penning a novel from the perspective of Mississippi maids, earned an impressive A+ score from audience members through CinemaScore. As the trade points out, only “Soul Surfer” earned as high a grade, though that film was supported by loyal Christian groups who embraced the movie’s empowering message.

“The Help,” meanwhile, is being fuelled by book-club members who likely will continue to flock to theaters all weekend. Disney is guessing “The Help” will open in the $20 million range. I think they are being conservative. The movie’s going to open big … and we’ll be reading about it all during the lengthy Oscar season.

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About Sean O'Connell

Sean O'Connell is a nationally recognized film critic. His reviews have been published in print ('The Washington Post,' 'USA Today') and online (AMC FilmCritic.com, MSN's Citysearch) since 1996. He's a weekly contributor to several national radio programs. He is a longstanding member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA), the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS), and the Southeastern Film Critics View all articles by Sean O'Connell Association (SEFCA).

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