Weekend Wrap Up: The Butler Serves Seconds

Yeah, it’s that time of year. Late summer and early autumn are not particularly good times for the box office, but one benefit of the dearth of large openers is that smaller, well-received pictures can show great legs and spend some time in the spotlight. That’s the main story this weekend, as two films that audiences quite like lead the charge as three openers all disappoint.

The Butler

For the second weekend in a row, Lee Daniels’ The Butler topped the charts, easing just 31% to $17 million. I figured The Butler could easily end up being one of those late August leggy films (similar to The Help) and lo and behold, it’s happened. The Forest Whitaker film was amassed $52.3 million so far. If it continues the good legs and has a strong Labor Day weekend, $100 million isn’t unthinkable.

Another film that’s displayed good legs (in spite of critics’ feelings), We’re the Millers fell a small 25% to $13.5 million. The comedy has a running gross of $91.7 million and could continue to play well for weeks. We could be looking at a $125 million dollar movie here. I didn’t think the movie looked terribly funny and I was even more skeptical after the bad reviews, but I may have to end up checking this one out anyway now.

It’s becoming increasingly clear the Twilight saga was a fluke, or maybe just a perfect storm, as The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones became yet another in the long line of young adult novel adaptations trying to tap into the Twilight crowd. On the plus side, The Mortal Instruments at least fared better than Beautiful Creatures. TMI:COB pulled in $9.3 million over the weekend proper and has grossed $14.1 million since its Wednesday debut. It doesn’t have too high of a budget at $60 million, but the studio may have had franchise hopes here, and those have already been dashed.

The World’s End finished in fourth, grossing $8.9 million. That’s a step up from both Shaun of the Dead ($3.3 million) and Hot Fuzz ($5.8 million), but it’s nothing spectacular. Worthy of note, though, is that TWE only opened in 1549 theatres, and it actually had the highest per-theatre average in the top ten. And given its good reviews, perhaps TWE can find some legs, though it will compete with We’re the Millers for comedy audiences.

In fifth, Planes dropped 36% to $8.6 million. $59.6 million in total for the horribly reviewed picture. Elysium followed in sixth, down 48%, and grossed $7.1 million. The Matt Damon film has a sum of $69.1 million. After several surprising horror movies, one finally makes more standard numbers for the genre; You’re Next made just $7.1 million. Percy Jackson was down 41%, grossed $5.2 million and raised its disappointing total to $48.3 million.

One of those independent movies about which I’d have never heard if I didn’t analyze the box office, Blue Jasmine, made $4.3 million for a running total of $14.8 million. And, finally, down in tenth, we have the disaster that is Kick-Ass 2. It crashed a horrible 68% from a debut that was disappointing as it was. Pulling in $4.3 million, KA2 has grossed just $22.4 million and probably won’t even crack $30 million. For the record, I thoroughly enjoyed this film and might even go see it a second time with a friend who was on vacation when it came out. If you liked the first one, I encourage you to at least give KA2 a shot.

Well, that’s where we stand heading into the Labor Day holiday weekend. As far as holiday-inflated weekends at the box office, Labor Day is fairly weak, but I dare not underestimate the potential power of One Direction, so we’ll just have to see what happens. I wouldn’t be terribly surprised to see The Butler have a really small decrease and stay on top for a third weekend. But, anyway, I’ll be back next weekend to report on all of it. Until we meet again.

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