Box Office: The Butler Repeats At #1 As Newcomers Mortal Instruments & World’s End Place #3 and #4


The Wet Bandits had a foolproof plan. The key word is “had.”

You could argue it was the best all-around release weekend of the year at the movies – depending on your love of Edgar Wright/Simon Pegg/Nick Frost and horror movies involving tough heroines – but in the eyes of the almighty dollar it was the holdovers that dominated at the box office. Lee Daniels’ The Butler repeated at #1 in its second weekend with $17 million. That’s an impressive tally, as the film only dropped 31% from its opening weekend. With more than $50 million in earnings after its first 10 days, the drama is well on its way to finish above $100 million and continue Oscar talk well into the fall.

The first new release to hit theaters last week was The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. It opened on Wednesday but only managed $4.7 million before the weekend rolled around. And the extra three days didn’t help its franchise potential all that much. Friday-Sunday estimates have it finishing with $9.3 million. Those aren’t endearing numbers for studio Screen Gems and its sixty million-dollar film. Unless it does well overseas or with the eventual home video release the possibility of the supposed sequel, The Mortal Instruments: City of Ashes, seems like wishful thinking at this point.

Sadly, Mortal Instruments did just enough to stay above its closest competitor, the third film in Edgar Wright’s Cornetto Trilogy. The World’s End only scored $8.9 million. That may seem like not a lot, but the opening is better than the three-day figures for either Shaun of the Dead or Hot Fuzz. It also had the best per-theater average of any other film in the top ten ($5,745 per at 1,549 theaters overall). It also got high marks critically, with an 81 average on Metacritic (as well as 91% on Rotten Tomatoes). With a $20 million budget and positive word-of-mouth (opening night reactions garnered a “B+” CinemaScore), the movie was destined to turn a profit with more than $15 million already accumulated from the UK.

The other newcomer to open wide on Friday was a film that’s been kicking around since 2011. That would be the home invasion horror film You’re Next. Despite good reviews (hey, 80% for a horror movie on RT is a very good average), You’re Next couldn’t carry over with weekend audiences opening with $7 million. It may be a case where the aggregate score came mostly from reviews written when it was shown at film festivals such as Toronto and Fantastic Fest. Or it could be that more audiences wanted to see The Butler or got around to seeing We’re the Millers in its third weekend.

And how about the restricted comedy We’re the Millers. This is one of those comedies in which I saw the trailer and figured it could do well numbers-wise. With its faux-family Vacation set-up, except going to Mexico to transport some pot vs. going to Wallyworld, Millers will look to finish August at $100 million. Even with a critical drubbing audiences seem to like the humor and Jennifer Aniston striptease.

Getting some major expansion this weekend was Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine. Sony Pictures Classics expanded the film to 1,283 theaters for the weekend and the result was $4.3 million overall. After five weeks its total is just south of $15 million ($14.7 million and counting). With Cate Blanchett getting raves for her performance, SPC will look to push it to the moon so that Oscar voters don’t forget about her and Woody Allen when it comes time to cast votes. In terms of surpassing other high-grossing indie releases, it will have to leap frog over The Way, Way Back ($18.2m), The Place Beyond the Pines ($21.4m) and Mud ($21.5m). $22 million should be no problem for Blue Jasmine. It’ll be interesting to see if it can get in the ballpark of Midnight in Paris, Allen’s best-performing release with $56 million in domestic earnings and $151 million overall.

Not that it matters in the scheme of things, but the movie that Blue Jasmine bettered was last week’s new opener Kick-Ass 2. Dropping from its fifth place to tenth place in the span of a week is bad. It’s audience went elsewhere as attendance dropped 68%. If that’s kicking-ass, well I’d hate to see the other guy.

On tap for the weekend we have the Wednesday release of Closed Circuit, starring Eric Bana and Rebecca Hall, plus Friday openings Getaway with Ethan Hawke and Selena Gomez, and the concert doc, One Direction: This Is Us. Anyone want to take any guesses at what will be #1 come the next box office report?

Weekend Box Office Top Ten Results for August 23 – August 25, 2013

1. Lee Daniels’ The Butler (The Weinstein Company) – $17 MILLION ($52.2m cume)

2. We’re the Millers (New Line Cinema) – $13.5 MILLION ($91.7m cume)

3. The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (Screen Gems) – $9.3 MILLION ($14m cume)

4. The World’s End (Focus Features) – $8.9 MILLION

5. Planes (Walt Disney Pictures) – $8.5 MILLION ($59.5m cume)

6. Elysium (Columbia Pictures) – $7.1 MILLION ($69m cume)

7. You’re Next (Lionsgate) – $7 MILLION

8. Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters (20th Century Fox) – $5.2 MILLION ($48.3m cume)

9. Blue Jasmine (Sony Pictures Classics) – $4.3 MILLION ($14.7m cume)

10. Kick-Ass 2 (Universal Pictures) – $4.3 MILLION ($22.4m cume)

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