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‘The Help’ Passes $100M Domestically

The DreamWorks picture, which has spent the past two weekends leading the box office, passes key North American benchmark

DreamWorks' “The Help” helped itself to the $100 million mark at the domestic box office, the studio announced Wednesday.

The $25 million period drama starring Emma Stone has been one of the summer's surprise breakout hits, winning the domestic box office during its second and third weekends of release.

“We went from opening not No. 1 to being No. 1, which is unusual in itself,” Dave Hollis, Disney’s executive VP of distribution, told TheWrap. Disney handles distribution for DreamWorks.

Three weeks into its run, "The Help" is actually adding locations: It opened with 2,534 theaters in the U.S. and Canada, expanded by 156 in its second week, by another 88 in its third and is going up by some 65 more this weekend, Hollis said.

And as time goes on, the demographics of its audience are changing.

Hollis said that during the first weekend, the movie played well in urban, heartland and upscale theaters, but skewed older and female.

In the weeks since, it has expanded its reach and is now drawing old and young, male and female, Hollis said.

“We hope that what we’ve seen to date is something that can continue into the end of summer and into fall,” he said. “We’ve been fortunate to have what I can only describe as the movie to see in recent weeks.”

The movie opens in its first international territory, Australia, this weekend.

"The Help" is the story of friendship among African American maids in 1963, and offers an unsparing look at the way their employers treat them.

In a written statement, writer-director Tate Taylor said, "We never imagined this film, which began its journey inspired by the enthusiasm of a small group of Mississippi friends, would ever even get made. Now to have it seen and embraced by so many people is just beyond our wildest dreams."