LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The hard-working maids of "The Help" beat three new releases to win the North American box office on a weekend dampened by Hurricane Irene, according to studio estimates released on Sunday.
"The Help," an inspirational film about black housekeepers in Civil Rights-era Mississippi, hung on to the No. 1 spot for the second straight weekend with $14.3 million in U.S. and Canadian ticket sales, distributor Walt Disney Co said.
Action movie "Columbiana" finished second with $10.3 million while horror flick "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark" took third place with $8.7 million.
Box-office sales were pressured by Hurricane Irene, which forced the closure of theaters in big markets such as New York and kept moviegoers at home along a broad stretch of the East Coast.
TriStar Pictures, a unit of Sony Corp, released "Columbiana." "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark" was distributed by FilmDistrict.
(Reporting by Lisa Richwine; Editing by Bill Trott)