NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Dreamworks Pictures'The Help emerged as the No. 1 movie in the U.S. over the weekend, taking in an estimated $20.5 million, according to studio estimates published by

The drama about Southern black maids, which was distributed by

Walt Disney

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, debuted last weekend, when it was second to

Rise of the Planet of the Apes


Revenue for

The Help

was down only 21% from its opening weekend, a much smaller drop than the norm,

The Associated Press


"It is a rare feat to see a film not open at No. 1 and then become No. 1," said Dave Hollis, head of distribution for Disney, according to the


. "To me, it's a testament of it being a great film, as well as the viral nature of the word of mouth about it."

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prequel, distributed by

New Corp.'s

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20th Century Fox

, fell to the No. 2 spot this weekend with $16.3 million, according to estimates from

. It had been the No. 1 movie the previous two weekends.


The Weinstein Co.'s

Spy Kids: All the Time in the World

came in No. 3 with $12.0 million on its opening weekend, according to

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This article was written by a staff member of TheStreet.