This will make a straight month of new horror releases, with this final weekend doubling up with a goofy teen creature feature and a Paranormal Activity-clone that takes place in space. I’m not sure either of them can best The Help.

Apollo 18 has done all the viral leaks and creepy trailers that a film like this is supposed to do, but it’s not been something that I’ve detected a tremendous amount of buzz surrounding. Movies like Paranormal Activity are cheap and thus their success invites imitation, but there are so many uncontrollable components that go into that kind of success that it’s never going to work. That said, the advantage remains that these films are cheap (Apollo 18 supposedly cost a mere 5 million, which even with P&A primes it for success) so the model will be lucrative even without any given example becoming a cultural phenomenon. Apollo 18 didn’t screen for critics, which usually means everything and nothing at all. Were it no for horror fatigue and the stink of August still in the air I might give it the benefit of the doubt for number 1, but I think The Help gets one more go around.

Shark Night 3D… no boobs and gore to draw that crowd, but too silly to draw a more refined audience… where does that leave it? More than likely trailing behind, as Apollo 18 is also a PG-13 film that has the trendier edge to it. 3D might boost the film a touch, but ultimately it’s a good thing you don’t really have to reboot the concept of sharks, as this franchise doesn’t get a DD.

The Debt and Apes are both in a rough place as The Debt is ultimately a small battered spy flick that shuffled around for awhile, and despite the recognizable names has little drawing power. It’s the best alternative for the adults that have already seen The Help though so I’m giving it the benefit of the doubt over Apes, which really should be waning into the bottom 5 at this point. The Apes rose past $150 and nobody can take that away from them, so it’s off into the forest with them among all the poor small releases from last week.

We’ll break it down on Monday. The fun part.

The Help ….. $14,000,000
Apollo 18 ….. $13,500,000
Shark Night 3D …. $10,000,000
The Debt ….. $9,500,000
Rise of the Apes ….. $9,000,000

The thread in which you talk about this stuff.