But this weekend's numbers were more of a shot in the dark. Some theaters did not report their weekend grosses, and it was uncertain how many cinemas might remain closed Sunday or how big an audience might turn up in the wake of the storm.
"I think everybody is trying to lean toward conservative estimates," said Rory Bruer, head of distribution at Sony, who said "Colombiana" managed to beat the studio's projections of an $8 million opening weekend despite the weather.
Overall business plunged, with domestic revenues totaling $88 million, down 23 percent from the same weekend last year, when "Takers" led with $20.5 million, according to box-office tracker Hollywood.com.
"It's not like this was destined to be a blockbuster weekend, anyway," said Hollywood.com analyst Paul Dergarabedian. "But going to the movies is not a top priority when you're concerned about severe weather."
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Hollywood.com. Where available, latest international numbers also are included. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.
1. "The Help," $14.3 million.
2. "Colombiana," $10.3 million.
3. "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark," $8.7 million.
4. "Rise of the Planet of the Apes," $8.65 million ($22.1 million international).
5. "Our Idiot Brother," $6.6 million.
6. "Spy Kids: All the Time in the World," $5.7 million.
7. "The Smurfs," $4.8 million.
8. "Conan the Barbarian," $3.1 million.
9. "Fright Night," $3 million.
10. "Crazy, Stupid, Love," $2.9 million.
Universal and Focus are owned by NBC Universal, a unit of Comcast Corp.; Sony, Columbia, Sony Screen Gems and Sony Pictures Classics are units of Sony Corp.; Paramount is owned by Viacom Inc.; Disney, Pixar and Marvel are owned by The Walt Disney Co.; Miramax is owned by Filmyard Holdings LLC; 20th Century Fox and Fox Searchlight are owned by News Corp.; Warner Bros. and New Line are units of Time Warner Inc.; MGM is owned by a group of former creditors including Highland Capital, Anchorage Advisors and Carl Icahn; Lionsgate is owned by Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.; IFC is owned by Rainbow Media Holdings, a subsidiary of Cablevision Systems Corp.; Rogue is owned by Relativity Media LLC.