Despite the appearance of three new films at the box office this week, it looks as though last week’s historical drama, Lee Daniel’s The Butler, will rule the box office for a second straight weekend, making $4.8 million on Friday and putting it on track for over $15 million by the end of the weekend.
The Weinstein Co. released The Butler, which stars Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey, is set to exceed $50 million for the entire run by the end of the weekend, ensuring profits to the film’s thirty-seven producers. The film will become Lee Daniel’s most profitable film to date, beating out his acclaimed 2009 film Precious, which made $47.6 million.
Lee Daniel’s The Butler made $24.6 million at the box office last weekend during its opening, meaning that this week’s take would represent only a 40 percent drop from weekend-to-weekend. Aside from the film’s high marks from critics and positive word of mouth among movie-goers, the film is already garnering the kind of Oscar buzz that can give a film legs as it moves into the second weekend and beyond.
The most surprising film at the box office this week — though not nearly as surprising if you’ve paid close attention to the box office recently — is the sleeper hit We’re the Millers, which was able to grab the number two spot on Friday. The R-rated comedy, now in its third weekend, is projected to earn about $13 million by Sunday, which would place it at number two at the domestic box office.
The New Line released comedy, starring Jennifer Aniston and Jason Sudeikis, has been a huge success for parent company Time Warner (NYSE:TWX), with a box office total to date of $82 million on a budget of only $37 million.
Of the new entries this weekend, Focus Feature’s (NASDAQ:CMCSA) The World’s End, directed by Edgar Wright and starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, looks to take third place at the weekend box office — an impressive feat considering the film only opened in 1,549 theaters. The sci-fi comedy made $3.5 million on Friday, putting it on track for a projected $9 to $10 million weekend.
The World’s End is the third film in what Wright and Pegg have dubbed the “Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy” — the first two being Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. The film follows a group of friends as they reunite for an epic bar crawl in their hometown only to discover that the town has been taken over by aliens. The film scored a B-plus CinemaScore.
Mortal Instruments: City of Bones looks likely to take fourth place, which would represent a huge disappointment for U.S. distributer Sony (NYSE:SNE). Despite opening in over twice as many theaters as The World’s End — 3,118 versus 1,549 – Mortal Instruments made an estimated $3.1 million on Friday putting it on course to make about $13.5 through the weekend due to its release on Wednesday — the only film this week to make a move before the weekend.
Mortal Instruments is based on Cassandra Clare’s popular supernatural young-adult book series of the same name about a demon-hunting teen, played by Lily Collins. While the film is disappointing for Sony, which had hoped to launch a franchise from the series in the same vein as Twilight, the company doesn’t have much financial liability as it is only distributing the film, while Germany’s Constantin Films fully financed and produced the film. Despite the film’s start, both Sony and Constantin Films both expect the film to receive good returns internationally. The series is already in pre-production on a sequel.
The third brand new film at the weekend box office, Lions Gate’s (NYSE:LGF) horror film You’re Next, opened with $3 million on Friday and placed fifth at the domestic box office. The film is expected to make about $8 million for the weekend, which would be slightly disappointing given recent tracking that suggested it might place above both Mortal Instruments and The World’s End. The film received a B-minus CinemaScore.
The other film impressing at the box office is Woody Allen’s critically acclaimed Blue Jasmine, coming from Sony Picture Classics. The film expanded into 1,200 theaters this week, making it the widest release of Allen’s career. The film made an estimated $1.2 million on Friday, pushing the film’s total to nearly $12 million. While the projections only put in on track for tenth place at the box office, the numbers are considered a huge success given the number of theaters showing the film and the usual box office numbers for Allen’s films.
Going down the rest of the top ten on Friday gross, we have Disney’s (NYSE:DIS) Planes with $2.3 million, Universal’s Elysium with $2 million, Fox’s (NASDAQ:FOXA) Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters with $1.4 million, Universal’s Kick-Ass 2 with $1.3 million, and Blue Jasmine.