“Lee Daniels’ The Butler” No. 1 for 2nd Weekend in a Row with $17 Million in Box Office

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According to variety.com, three new wide releases, led by Sony-Screen Gems’ Y/A adaptation The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, with an estimated $14.1 million in five days,  were no match for Lee Daniels’ The Butler, which only fell 31% in its second weekend, for a projected $17 million through Sunday. The Weinstein Co.-distributed movie has earned north of $52 million so far.

The holdover success of Lee Daniels’ The Butler can be largely attributed to its broadening audience: Last weekend, the film earned 76% of its gross from audiences over 35, while in its second weekend, that share shrunk to 63%. Moreover, African-Americans contributed a weighty 39% of the film’s opening; just 33% of its total this weekend came from black viewers.  The film’s playability mirrors the stronghold that The Help had on the box office this time two years ago.

Focus Features’ apocalyptic-themed spoof comedy The World’s End debuted with a solid $8.9 million from only 1,549 theaters. By comparison, City of Bones, which opened at more than twice that many locations, grossed a modest $9.3 million. Sony launched the teen girl-targeted film midweek hoping to attract teens still on summer break.  “I certainly think there is room for growth,” said Sony distribution prexy Rory Bruer. “(The film) was up 20% Friday-to-Saturday, which you normally wouldn’t expect from a teen girl film.”

Also opening this weekend, Lionsgate’s horror pic You’re Next grossed a meager $7.1 million in three days.  “We had a strategy to go after that core,” said Focus distribution head Jack Foley. “(The opening) speaks to that strategy of attacking the hipster groups in certain core theaters.”

Mortal Instruments skewed 68% female, with 46% of its opening crowd under 21. The franchise starter, which was produced and financed by Constantin Films for $60 million, scored a decent ‘B+’ CinemaScore.

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson

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