By John Young
Updated August 13, 2011 at 06:37 PM EDT

In spite of four new movies opening this weekend, Caesar and his IQ-boosted buddies held onto their throne as Rise of the Planet of the Apes topped the box office on Friday with $8.1 million, according to early estimates.

That means Fox’s $90 million sci-fi action film is on pace for a second-weekend tally of about $26 million, which would represent a large but respectable drop of 53 percent. (Most summer action films fall somewhere between 55 and 60 percent.) On Sunday, Apes should climb past the $100 million mark.

This weekend’s true success story, however, is Disney’s The Help, which finished second on Friday with $7.6 million. That result points to a strong $23 million opening weekend. Add in the combined $9.9 million the PG-13 drama made on Wednesday and Thursday, and The Help‘s five-day total rises to about $33 million. The adaptation of Kathryn Stockett’s bestselling novel, which DreamWorks and Participant Media co-financed for $25 million, earned a rare A+ rating from CinemaScore audiences, indicating enthusiastic word of mouth.

Critics weren’t quite as impressed, but The Help still received generally positive reviews. According to CinemaScore, adult women fueled the movie, as 83 percent of the audience was female and 78 percent was at least 25 years old. That same demographic has previously made hits out of such August releases as Eat Pray Love and Julie & Julia, and The Help should follow suit as it marches toward $100 million.

In third was the new 3-D horror flick Final Destination 5, which pulled in $7.3 million on Friday and should finish the weekend with $19 million. That’ll be a significant step down from 2009’s The Final Destination, which opened to $27.4 million. However, Final Destination 5 cost only $40 million to produce, and should be able to count on some lively results overseas.

The R-rated comedy 30 Minutes or Less opened in fourth place with a somewhat disappointing $4.9 million on Friday. The summer’s first five R-rated comedies — Bridesmaids, The Hangover Part II, Bad Teacher, Horrible Bosses, and Friends with Benefits — debuted to an average of $38 million. Since then, The Change-Up could only muster $13.5 million last weekend, and 30 Minutes or Less looks headed for around the same amount.

The week’s fourth and final new release was Fox’s Glee: The 3D Concert Movie. Proving that Gleeks are no Beliebers, the concert pic collected only $2.7 million on Friday. Although Brittany’s calculations still point to a $700 million opening, the PG film is actually on track for just $7 million this weekend.

By comparison, Justin Bieber: Never Say Never debuted to $29.5 million earlier this year. Check back here on Sunday for the complete box office report.

1. Rise of the Planet of the Apes — $8.1 mil

2. The Help — $7.6 mil

3. Final Destination 5 — $7.3 mil

4. 30 Minutes or Less — $4.9 mil

5. The Smurfs — $3.8 mil

6. Glee: The 3D Concert Movie — $2.7 mil

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