LOS ANGELES - The Butler polished off the competition at the box office last weekend, scoring its second consecutive win.
In its second weekend in theaters, the civil-rights drama starring Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey saw its ticket sales fall only 31 percent, to $16.5 million, according to an estimate from distributor the Weinstein Co. After 10 days in release, the picture has collected $51.7 million in the United States and Canada.
Things were a bit messier for the weekend’s three debuts - The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, The World’s End and You’re Next - none of which posted particularly impressive openings.
In fact, the weekend’s runner-up was the R-rated comedy We’re the Millers. The $37 million movie starring Jason Sudeikis and Jennifer Aniston has proved to be a sleeper hit, raking in about $91.3 million in 19 days.
As for Mortal Instruments, which distributor Columbia Pictures had hoped would become the next big teen fantasy franchise, it fizzled with young audiences. The $60 million production, based on Cassandra Clare’s best-selling novel, opened Aug. 21 in an effort to spread positive word of mouth before the crowded weekend. But the movie ended up grossing just $9.3 million between Friday and Sunday, giving it a lackluster five-day tally of $14 million.
On paper, it seemed that Mortal Instruments had the potential to become a hit: Clare’s five-book series about a teenage girl who discovers she is part of a breed of demon hunters has sold 24 million copies worldwide. Instead, the movie is the latest post-Twilight release based on a young-adult novel to misfire, following this year’s Beautiful Creatures and The Host.
The World’s End launched with $8.7 million - not a huge opening but a respectable one given the British comedy’s $20 million budget. The film also debuted in more than 1,000 fewer theaters than the weekend’s other two new movies.
The third entry in a trilogy from Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, the picture performed better than its predecessors. In 2004, Shaun of the Dead launched with only $3.3 million, while 2007’s Hot Fuzz started with $5.8 million. Neither film was hugely popular in the U.S., but Hot Fuzz went on to gross $80.6 million worldwide.
The World’s End, which follows friends competing in a pub crawl before the apocalypse, is likely to fare far better abroad. The movie, which has yet to open in most foreign markets, debuted last month in four countries overseas - including Britain - and has collected about $16 million.
In America, the movie, directed by Wright and starring Pegg and Frost, had the best reviews of any of the weekend’s new releases, and audiences somewhat enjoyed it. Those who saw the film - a young male crowd, 71 percent of whom were under age 35 - assigned the film an average B-plus grade.
You’re Next, another low-budget production, also failed to catch on with a broad audience, starting with about $7 million. Because of the success of inexpensive scary movies such as The Purge and The Conjuring in recent months, many thought You’re Next had the potential to exceed industry expectations.
The picture, about murderers who don masks and invade a family reunion with axes in hand, was acquired at the Canadian festival by Lionsgate.
The studio declined to comment on the film’s opening.
MovieStyle, Pages 34 on 08/30/2013
Print Headline: No. 1? The Butler did it. Again