NEW YORK (AP) — Lee Daniels' The Butler served up a second helping at the US box office, topping the weekend with $17 million according to studio estimates yesterday.
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, last weekend opened with $24.6 million for the Weinstein Co.
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 cinemas, The World's End did its business in less than half the cinemas 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.
"This is a film that you wouldn't want to open in June or July," said Dergarabedian. "The release date that the Weinstein Co picked absolutely paid off for them."