‘The Help’ has been without a doubt the summer’s most controversial film, but it seems that all the uproar has only helped to catapulted it to major box office success. In less than three weeks, the film based on Kathryn Stockett’s novel has grossed $100.8 million dollars in the U.S.
Staring Emma Stone, Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer, the film has beat out four new films in recent weeks to keep its number one slot for the past two weekends running. The film was bested by ‘Rise of Planet of the Apes’ when it debuted August 10th.
While there is no doubt that the buzz and major conversation around the film helped to keep it on the minds of potential movie goers, many claim that the film’s ability to appeal to both black and white audiences is the reason why it has done so well. In her analysis of the film’s audience, Pamela McClintock of The Hollywood Reporter writes:
Rare is the film whose top 10 grossing theaters include the Paradiso 16 in East Memphis, Tenn. — a residential and commercial area — and the Lincoln Square 13, smack-dab in the middle of New York City.
Why is this happening? Box-office observers say Help’s twin appeal owes to the popularity of Kathryn Stockett’s best-selling novel (a DreamWorks executive reports seeing groups of women at the ArcLight Sherman Oaks bringing the book to the movie) as well as the film’s Southern-themed story and large biracial cast. On Help’s first weekend in release, the top three theaters were in Memphis, Jackson, Miss. (where the story is set), and Dallas.
While it’s no secret that many critics including several black commentators and organizations claimed the film romanticized a period of horrendous racial discrimination and reduced the struggles of many to center around a privileged young white woman writer and a couple of black maids, the criticism does not seem to have kept audiences from flocking to see the film.
What about you Clutchettes and gents- have you see The Help? If not were you just not interested or did the controversy deter you? Let’s discuss!