Los Angeles - The Help remains Hollywood's top draw with $14.3m on a slow late-summer weekend whose business has come in even more sluggish as many East Coast theatres closed to ride out the storm there.
Irene was downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm on Sunday, but the weekend already was a lost cause for many cinemas in its path.
Late August often is a dumping ground for movies with slim commercial prospects, and Irene cut even further into receipts for the weekend's three new wide releases.
Zoe Saldana's action tale Colombiana opened in second-place with $10.3m. Guy Pearce and Katie Holmes' horror story Don't Be Afraid of the Dark debuted in third with $8.7m. Paul Rudd's comedy Our Idiot Brother premiered at No 5 with $6.6m.