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LOS ANGELES-The historical drama “The Help,” which deals with the plight of African American maids in the 50s and 60s had a very strong first weekend at the box office, earning $25 million, almost beating the summer blockbuster “Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes,” which made $27 million. Entertainment Weekly reports:

Not far behind was The Help, which surprised the industry with a substantial $25.5 million. Disney released the PG-13 drama on Wednesday in an attempt to build buzz heading into the weekend. That strategy seems to have paid off. The Help, based on Kathryn Stockett’s bestselling novel and starring Viola Davis, Emma Stone, Octavia Spencer, and Bryce Dallas Howard, grossed a combined $9.9 million on Wednesday and Thursday — boosting its five-day total to $35.4 million. It also garnered a rare A+ rating from CinemaScore audiences, which means the film should be benefiting from exceptional word of mouth. Adult women were the driving force behind the $25 million movie’s success this weekend. According to Disney, 74 percent of the audience was female and 60 percent was over the age of 35.

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