Weekend Box Office (August 23 - 25, 2013)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND The historical drama The Butler easily won a second term as commander-in-chief of the North American box office beating out three new releases that each opened in the single-digit millions. Forest Whitaker's White House saga declined by only 33% in its sophomore session to $16.5M, according to final studio figures, pushing the ten-day total to an impressive $51.8M putting it on track to break the $100M mark and become one of the top five grossing films ever for its distributor.

The Weinstein Co. release held up almost as well as The Help from two years ago which dipped by only 23% in its second frame to $20M. That film, which also held the number one spot over these same two weekends in 2011, opened on a Wednesday and banked a larger $71.3M in the 12 days ending with its second weekend. It suffered no decline over the Labor Day frame so Butler is likely to post another strong result next weekend which is a session when moviegoers catch up on films they've been hearing about, but haven't seen yet. Strong word-of-mouth, positive reviews, and weak competition have been helping Butler and should continue to assist the hit film in the weeks to come.

Posting the smallest decline of any film in the top ten was the sleeper hit comedy We're the Millers which grossed $13M dipping only 27% in its third weekend. Warner Bros. has taken in a solid $91.3M to date and should have its fifth $100M+ grosser of the summer before Labor Day.

The critically-panned young adult fantasy adventure The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones stumbled on opening weekend debuting to $9.3M over the weekend from a very wide release in 3,118 locations for a weak $2,995 average. The PG-13 film based on the popular novel collected a disappointing total of $14.1M over the five days since its Wednesday launch.

Sony's effects-heavy release played primarily to its target of young women and teen girls. Studio research showed that 68% of the crowd was female and 46% was under 21. The CinemaScore grade was a moderate B+. Films slotted into the final two weeks of August are generally turkeys that studios don't believe will perform in the first place so a large opening weekend was never expected.

The British comedy The World's End debuted in fourth place with $8.8M from 1,551 theaters for a respectable $5,667 average which was tops among all wide releases this weekend. The Focus title got a wider release than director Edgar Wright's last film Hot Fuzz which bowed to $5.8M from 825 locations for a stronger $7,089 average. Both films, along with cult hit Shaun of the Dead, star Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. Reviews were stellar for End and given the crowded marketplace and end-of-summer slowdown, the opening was commendable. The R-rated film earned a decent B+ grade from CinemaScore and played 58% male and 71% under 35.

Off 36% in fifth place was Disney's animated film Planes with $8.6M for a sum to date of $59.6M. Among late summer kidpics, it should end up ahead of The Smurfs 2 and about even with Turbo.

The new horror film You're Next was next with a sixth place opening grossing $7M. Lionsgate averaged a soft $2,881 from 2,437 locations. Reviews were very positive for a fright flick, but audiences were not sold on it. Those that did open their wallets gave it a B- grade from CinemaScore indicating the usual path ahead for the genre.

The sci-fi actioner Elysium followed with $6.9M, down 49%, for a $68.9M cume. Overseas business is solid for the Sony title with an additional $70M taken in to date.

The fantasy sequel Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters dropped 40% to $5.3M lifting Fox's total to $48.4M. Universal's own late-summer sequel Kick-Ass 2 fell apart in its second weekend tumbling 67% to $4.4M. The super hero pic has banked just $22.5M and may end with about $30M, or more than a third below the $48.1M of its 2010 predecessor.

Grossing $4M was Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine which expanded aggressively from 229 to 1,283 locations putting it into the top ten for the first time. The Sony Classics release averaged a lukewarm $3,096 but has collected a solid $14.5M to date. With a long holiday weekend coming up plus moviegoing shifting to adult fare in September, the acclaimed pic is well-positioned to remain a factor in the coming weeks.

The Weinstein Co. generated only moderate results from its Wong Kar Wai film The Grandmaster which had attached a "Martin Scorsese presents" credit to boost interest. The stylish martial arts epic platformed in New York and Los Angeles to $132,617 from just seven theaters for a decent $18,945 average. It was not a stellar enough result to expect a strong expansion in the weeks to come. Reviews were generally positive. Grandmaster goes nationwide into several hundred theaters this Friday and will face three more new wide releases cramming into theaters.

Elsewhere below the top ten, the animated smash Despicable Me 2 crossed double milestones over the weekend by surpassing both the $350M domestic and $800M worldwide marks. Universal's global cume is now a towering $805.8M making it the seventh highest-grossing animated film of all-time. The studio also stated that the Gru sequel was its most profitable film ever. Of course to verify that, studios need to start reporting honest cost figures (including marketing spends) and not just revenue figures. The monster flick Pacific Rim inched closer to the century club raising its cume to $99.2M and may break $100M shortly after Labor Day.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $83.8M which was up 10% from last year when The Expendables 2 remained at number one with $13.4M; and up 21% from 2011 when The Help stayed in the top spot with $14.5M in its third weekend.

Compared to projections, The Mortal Instruments and You're Next both opened below my respective forecasts of $11M and $13M while The World's End debuted very close to my $8M prediction.

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Watch the trailer for Thor: The Dark World.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Getaway, One Direction: This Is Us, and Closed Circuit all open.

# Title Aug 23 - 25 Aug 16 - 18 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 The Butler $ 16,503,812 $ 24,637,312 -33.0 3,110 2 $ 5,307 $ 51,760,625 Weinstein Co.
2 We're the Millers 13,047,119 17,964,164 -27.4 3,445 3 3,787 91,287,318 Warner Bros.
3 The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones 9,336,957 3,118 1 2,995 14,088,359 Sony
4 The World's End 8,790,237 1,551 1 5,667 8,790,237 Focus
5 Planes 8,575,214 13,388,534 -36.0 3,378 3 2,539 59,599,909 Disney
6 You're Next 7,020,196 2,437 1 2,881 7,020,196 Lionsgate
7 Elysium 6,926,280 13,686,832 -49.4 2,913 3 2,378 68,880,218 Sony
8 Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters 5,274,716 8,753,723 -39.7 2,730 3 1,932 48,421,169 Fox
9 Kick-Ass 2 4,373,310 13,332,955 -67.2 2,945 2 1,485 22,526,445 Universal
10 Blue Jasmine 3,972,687 2,291,183 73.4 1,283 5 3,096 14,471,489 Sony Classics
11 2 Guns 3,359,825 5,806,850 -42.1 1,841 4 1,825 65,353,995 Universal
12 Jobs 2,866,014 6,713,900 -57.3 2,381 2 1,204 12,009,301 Open Road
13 The Smurfs 2 2,764,252 4,769,626 -42.0 1,852 4 1,493 62,580,370 Sony
14 Despicable Me 2 2,600,715 3,908,735 -33.5 1,402 8 1,855 350,701,135 Universal
15 The Wolverine 2,483,787 4,518,631 -45.0 1,449 5 1,714 125,079,463 Fox
16 The Conjuring 2,058,284 3,885,296 -47.0 1,355 6 1,519 131,668,992 Warner Bros.
17 Paranoia 1,313,251 3,528,376 -62.8 2,459 2 534 6,250,293 Relativity
18 Grown Ups 2 900,617 1,708,266 -47.3 620 7 1,453 128,945,248 Sony
19 Turbo 643,442 1,078,888 -40.4 470 6 1,369 78,785,445 Fox
20 The Spectacular Now 619,234 413,358 49.8 154 4 4,021 1,904,412 A24
Top 5 $ 56,253,339 $ 83,009,797 -32.2
Top 10 83,820,528 113,572,527 -26.2
Top 20 103,429,949 133,198,793 -22.3
Top 20 vs. 2012 103,429,949 91,645,829 12.9

Last Updated: August 27, 2013 at 9:15AM ET

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