Despite Controversy, The Help Has Earned $100 Million (So Far)

Summer hits are usually action-packed fantasy adventures with superheroes, and with releases like Harry Potter, Transformers and Fast Five, this year was no exception. But The Help has made over $100 million in box office grosses — in less than three weeks.

The $100 million sum is a mere fraction of what The Deathly Hallows and The Hangover II have made. But The Help is a drama, standing out in a summer of comedies and action flicks.

The Hollywood Reporter notes that like The Blind Side, The Help is an "atypical" blockbuster. Also like The Blind Side, The Help's biracial cast could be part of its success — the film appeals to both black and white audiences.

But The Help has been plagued by controversy: The movie is based on the 2009 best-selling novel, written by Kathryn Stockett, and features a fictional character, a black maid named Aibileen Clark. Kathryn Stockett's brother, Robert Stockett III, has employed a nanny — who is black — for years. Her name? Ablene Cooper. She calls the portrayal of Aibileen "embarrassing," and has filed a lawsuit against the author.

And some black people are not interested in The Help inasmuch as a contemporary white writer and director are telling the stories of black women in the 1960s. As Jamilah Lemieux wrote in April:

…If I was to be interested in such a story, I would like to hear "the help" tell it herself. Spare me the fantasy reinvention of a middle-class white woman.

Still, The Help remains an interesting success story: It's a movie driven by a book, driven by women (the opening night audience was 74% female) and featuring some fantastic black actresses in its cast. Which is cool. (I'm still not going to see it, though.)

'The Help' Crosses $100 Million Mark [The Hollywood Reporter]
'The Help' Audience: Just Who Exactly is Going to See It? [The Hollywood Reporter]
The Help [Box Office Mojo]

Earlier: I Don't Need Kathryn Stockett's "Help"
The Help: Entertaining And/Or Troubling
Viola Davis On The Backlash To Playing A Maid