The Norman Transcript

Nation/World

August 26, 2013

‘The Butler’ on top in box office

NEW YORK — “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” served up a second helping at the box office, topping the weekend with $17 million, according to studio estimates Sunday.

That was enough to lead all films on a late August weekend known as a dumping ground for studios following their summer blockbusters and before the start of the fall movie-going season. Daniels’ historical drama about a long-serving White House butler, starring Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey, opened with $24.6 million.

Three new releases failed to catch on. The teen fantasy “Mortal Instruments: City of Bones,” adapted from the popular young adult book series, opened tepidly in third with $9.3 million on the weekend and $14 million since opening Wednesday. With franchise hopes, Sony Screen Gems has already started production on a sequel, again starring Lily Collins as a New York teenager who discovers she has mystical powers.

Edgar Wright’s pub-crawl-gone-wrong comedy “The World’s End” opened with $8.9 million for Focus Features. That was a better start for “The World’s End,” which stars Simon Pegg, than Wright’s last film, 2007’s “Hot Fuzz.” It opened with $5.8 million. Playing in 1,549 theaters, “The World’s End” did its business in less than half the theaters of “The Butler” or “Mortal Instruments.”

Despite good reviews, Lionsgate’s home-invasion horror flick “You’re Next” opened weakly with $7.1 million.

With a cumulative total of $52.3 million, “The Butler” is headed for a domestic haul of $100 million. It has followed the release pattern of another movie about race and domestic service: the 2011 drama “The Help,” also released in August. The Weinstein Co. hopes that “The Butler” will similarly lead to Oscar nominations.

Paul Dergarabedian, analyst for box-office tracker Hollywood.com, attributed the success of “The Butler” particularly to the marketing power of Winfrey and a savvy choice of a release date with little competition.

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