Weinstein’s ‘Butler’ Tops Box Office for Second Weekend

Photographer: Anne Marie Fox/TWC Publicity/The Weinstein Company via Bloomberg

Forest Whitaker as Cecil Gaines in "Lee Daniel's The Butler." The film is playing across the U.S. Close

Forest Whitaker as Cecil Gaines in "Lee Daniel's The Butler." The film is playing across the U.S.

Photographer: Anne Marie Fox/TWC Publicity/The Weinstein Company via Bloomberg

Forest Whitaker as Cecil Gaines in "Lee Daniel's The Butler." The film is playing across the U.S.

“Lee Daniels’ The Butler” took in $17 million in U.S. and Canadian theaters, leading the box office a second weekend in the absence of a big-budget release.

“The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones,” a fantasy teen movie, had sales of $9.3 million in its debut to place third for Sony Corp. (6758)’s Screen Gems unit, researcher Hollywood.com Box-Office said yesterday in a statement.

“The Butler,” starring Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey, generated $52.3 million in domestic ticket sales since its release on Aug. 16, helped by favorable reviews of Whitaker’s performance as Cecil Gaines, based on the real-life White House servant Eugene Allen, and for Winfrey, who plays his wife. The movie’s $24.6 million debut marked the biggest opening weekend for distributor Weinstein Co. since “Django Unchained” in December.

“The Butler” is “benefiting from a lack of competition because the big summer movies pretty much are played out, so now the calendar is wide open for some more niche titles to try and find an audience,” Paul Sweeney, an analyst with Bloomberg Industries, said in a telephone interview. “I think it’ll play well for the next couple of weeks.”

The movie cost about $30 million to produce, according to researcher Box Office Mojo. It recounts the story of Allen, who served presidents from Eisenhower to Reagan and whose life is used to frame turning points in American history, including the civil rights movement.

‘Mortal Instruments’

“We’re the Millers,” starring Jason Sudeikis and Jennifer Aniston, collected $13.5 million to place second in its third week. The comedy, made for $37 million, has become a hit for Time Warner Inc. (TWX)’s Warner Bros. with a $91.7 million total at the domestic box office.

“The Mortal Instruments,” released by Sony Corp. in the U.S., was made for $60 million and was projected to take in $10.5 million by Boxoffice.com. Based on the Cassandra Clare novels, it stars Lily Collins as a teenager who discovers she is part of a secret order of half-angel warriors locked in an ancient battle to protect the world from demons.

“The Mortal Instruments” is “excessively busy and occasionally cheesy,” wrote New York Times critic Jeannette Catsoulis. “The bustling plot sacrifices clarity for density, and emotional resonance for flirty one-liners.”

“The World’s End,” from Universal Pictures’s Focus Features unit, came in fourth in its debut with $8.9 million in receipts. What begins as a sentimental pub crawl for five middle-age mates from the British suburbs turns into a sci-fi comedy featuring outer-space body-snatchers.

‘You’re Next’

The British movie, starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost and directed by Edgar Wright, is the third installment from the trio, after 2004’s zombie comedy “Shaun of the Dead” and 2007’s action caper “Hot Fuzz.”

Made for $20 million, “The World’s End” was projected to generate $8.5 million by Boxoffice.com.

“You’re Next,” a horror flick from Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. (LGF) and the weekend’s third new release, collected $7.05 million in seventh place. The picture, about a group of masked murderers who invade a family reunion wielding axes, was projected to take $9 million by Boxoffice.com.

Weekend revenue for the top 12 films rose 11 percent to $91.6 million from the year-earlier period, Hollywood.com said. Attendance year to date is down 3 percent, while revenue has risen less than 1 percent.

The following table has U.S. movie box-office figures provided by studios to Hollywood.com Box-Office. The amounts are based on gross ticket sales on Aug. 23 and Aug. 24, and based on estimates for yesterday.

                       Rev.            Avg./   Pct.   Total
Movie                 (mln)  Theaters  Theater Chg.   (mln)  Wks
1 THE BUTLER           $17.0   3,110   $5,472   -31   $52.3   2
2 WE’RE THE MILLERS     13.5   3,445    3,919   -25    91.7   3
3 MORTAL INSTRUMENTS     9.3   3,118    2,983   --     14.1   1
4 THE WORLD’S END        8.9   1,549    5,773   --      8.9   1
5 PLANES                 8.6   3,378    2,536   -36    59.6   3
6 ELYSIUM                7.1   2,913    2,437   -48    69.1   3
7 YOU’RE NEXT            7.05  2,437    2,893   --      7.1   1
8 PERCY JACKSON          5.2   2,730    1,905   -41    48.3   3
9 BLUE JASMINE           4.3   1,283    3,352    88    14.8   5
10 KICK-ASS 2            4.27  2,945    1,450   -68    22.4   2
11 2 GUNS                3.4   1,841    1,840   -42    65.4   4
12 JOBS                  3.0   2,381    1,260   -55    12.1   2

Top 12 Films Grosses:

   This Week     Year Ago      Pct.
     (mln)         (mln)       Chg.
     $91.6         $82.8         11

Year-to-date Revenue:

     2013          2012
      YTD           YTD        Pct.
     (mln)         (mln)       Chg.
    $7,457.8      $7,412.8      0.6

Year-to-date Attendance:        -3%

Source: Hollywood.com Box-Office

To contact the reporter on this story: Ben Livesey in San Francisco at blivesey@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Kevin Miller at kmiller@bloomberg.net

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