Weekend Box Office (August 30 - September 2, 2013)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND Moviegoers ended their summer by spreading dollars across a wide variety of films helping the North American box office deliver a record-breaking Labor Day holiday frame. An astonishing 26 different films grossed more than $1M over the Friday-to-Monday weekend with two of them making a legitimate claim to the number one spot. Traditionally, the holiday is judged by the four-day period which saw the popular White House drama The Butler spend its third consecutive term in the top position. However over the three-day Friday-to-Sunday period, the rapidly-eroding boy band doc One Direction: This Is Us was the leader. Regardless, the box office broke the old Labor Day weekend record set back in 2007 as the Top 20 grossed over $143M across four days.

The durable White House drama The Butler was once again the most popular draw in its third term with word-of-mouth continuing to take the film out to new audiences. The Weinstein Co. hit took in $20.2M over four days, according to final studio figures, upping the cume to a robust $79.5M. The Friday-to-Sunday portion dipped by only 10%. Look for a final tally of about $120M making it the surprise winner of this year's big race between White House flicks beating out big-budget action pics Olympus Has Fallen ($98.9M) and White House Down ($72.4M). Butler is the first film of 2013 to spend three weeks at number one. The last movie to threepeat was The Hobbit in December.

Teen girls with short attention spans drove the boy band concert pic One Direction: This Is Us into the number two spot over the long holiday weekend, while also taking number one over the Friday-to-Sunday portion. The Sony release debuted to $18.5M over the Friday-to-Monday long weekend and averaged a decent $6,754 from 2,735 theaters helped in part by higher 3D ticket prices. Over the three-day span, its $15.8M edged out Butler's $14.9M.

The zero-patience fan base came out upfront as sales were extremely frontloaded. Friday saw an opening day of $8.9M including $2.7M from Thursday night shows starting at 7pm. Then grosses collapsed 55% Saturday to $4M. The studio saw a 28% drop Sunday while competing films either rose or dipped by less than 10%. The Monday slide was just 9%.

Direction was a one-quadrant hit as studio research showed that the audience was 87% female and 65% under 17. Fans liked what they saw - the CinemaScore grade was an encouraging A. It was a far better opening than last summer's Katy Perry: Part of Me which bowed to $10.2M over a five-day holiday frame, but also well short of the $29.5M three-day launch of Justin Bieber's pic released right before Valentine's Day 2011. Reviews were generally positive. Overseas, One Direction scored a debut of $14.5M from a wide launch in 53 territories led by $5.7M including previews from the group's home market of the U.K.

Taking in strong holdover biz was the popular comedy We're the Millers with $16.3M over four days for third place. The three-day portion dipped a scant 3% from last weekend. That put the Warner Bros. release at $113.2M giving Jennifer Aniston the sixth $100M+ domestic grosser of her career. Also, Warner Bros. achieved an amazing feat as all six of its big summer releases have now grossed north of $100M domestically for a combined $894M from North America alone.

The kid marketplace remained dominated by Disney's Planes which followed with $10.9M over the long weekend for $74M to date.

Lionsgate scored a huge hit in fifth place with a sensational debut for the Spanish-language family comedy Instructions Not Included which grossed $10.4M from only 348 theaters for a scorching $29,823 average. Driven by Latino audiences and targeted marketing, the PG-13 film about a playboy bachelor thrust into fatherhood connected with its target audience and earned a glowing A+ CinemaScore.

Sci-fi pic Elysium held up very well with $8.4M for a cume of $80.5M for Sony. Studio stablemate The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones followed with a large drop falling in its second weekend to $7.1M. Cume is a dull $24.5M.

A similar sophomore fate was in store for the British comedy The World's End which grossed $6.5M. Focus has $18.3M to date. Next was the fantasy adventure Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters with $6.2M and a $56.7M sum for Fox.

The critically-panned kidnapping thriller Getaway failed to connect with paying audiences opening in tenth place to $5.6M. Averaging a weak $2,632 from 2,130 locations, the PG-13 film released by Warner Bros. and starring Ethan Hawke and Selena Gomez also disappointed those who did come out and buy tickets earning a lackluster C+ grade from CinemaScore. Getaway is a prime example of the kind of film that studios quietly dump out at the end of the summer movie season knowing that is has zero chance of succeeding.

Two new wide releases from specialty distributors failed to make the top ten this weekend. The British crime thriller Closed Circuit bowed to just $3.1M over four days from 870 locations for a mild $3,583 average. Focus collected only $3.6M since its Wednesday launch. Reviews were mixed.

The Weinstein Co. went nationwide with its martial arts epic The Grandmaster after a week in platform release but found few takers. The Wong Kar Wai film grossed $3.2M from 749 sites for a $4,247 four-day average. Total is $3.4M.

Paramount's double feature promotion for its summer action hits World War Z and Star Trek Into Darkness led to some extra late summer cash sending the Brad Pitt zombie flick into the double-century club. Surrounded by negative buzz in the months before its release, Z has since won over audiences and stands as the actor's highest-grossing film ever both domestically ($200.7M) and worldwide ($532M). The latest Trek sits at $228.5M and $463M.

Also reaching a milestone this weekend was the mega-budgeted monster film Pacific Rim which finally crossed the $100M domestic mark thanks to Warner Bros. expanding it. North America is the second biggest market for the sci-fi pic with $100.4M as China has amassed a stellar $108.6M driving the global gross to $405M and counting.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $110M over four days which was up 9% from last year's Labor Day frame when The Possession opened at number one with $21.1M; and up 11% from 2011 when The Help stayed in the top spot for a third time with $19.9M in its fourth frame.

Compared to four-day projections, One Direction opened very close to my $17M forecast while The Butler was on target with my $20M projection. Getaway debuted below my $7M prediction while Closed Circuit was on target with my $3M projection.

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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 Riddick opens.

# Title Aug 30 - Sep 2 Aug 23 - 25 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 The Butler $ 20,201,272 $ 16,503,812 22.4 3,330 3 $ 6,066 $ 79,466,378 Weinstein Co.
2 One Direction: This Is Us 18,472,875 2,735 1 6,754 18,472,875 Sony
3 We're the Millers 16,288,094 13,047,119 24.8 3,445 4 4,728 113,240,012 Warner Bros.
4 Planes 10,882,322 8,575,214 26.9 3,259 4 3,339 73,969,992 Disney
5 Instructions Not Included 10,378,558 348 1 29,823 10,378,558 Lionsgate
6 Elysium 8,420,783 6,926,280 21.6 2,539 4 3,317 80,524,512 Sony
7 The Mortal Instruments 7,069,709 9,336,957 -24.3 3,118 2 2,267 24,523,893 Sony
8 The World's End 6,511,335 8,790,237 -25.9 1,553 2 4,193 18,320,569 Focus
9 Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters 6,189,447 5,274,716 17.3 2,393 4 2,586 56,729,466 Fox
10 Getaway 5,606,142 2,130 1 2,632 5,606,142 Warner Bros.
11 Blue Jasmine 5,306,163 3,972,687 33.6 1,179 6 4,501 21,772,631 Sony Classics
12 You're Next 5,069,361 7,020,196 -27.8 2,437 2 2,080 14,409,069 Lionsgate
13 Despicable Me 2 3,800,500 2,600,715 46.1 1,284 9 2,960 355,739,290 Universal
14 2 Guns 3,386,425 3,359,825 0.8 1,411 5 2,400 70,096,330 Universal
15 The Grandmaster 3,181,334 132,617 749 2 4,247 3,377,378 Weinstein Co.
16 Closed Circuit 3,116,885 870 1 3,583 3,628,731 Focus
17 The Smurfs 2 2,831,627 2,764,252 2.4 1,366 5 2,073 66,985,863 Sony
18 Kick-Ass 2 2,469,015 4,373,310 -43.5 1,646 3 1,500 26,998,060 Universal
19 Monsters University 2,284,055 391,041 484.1 1,889 11 1,209 264,286,369 Disney
20 The Wolverine 2,213,405 2,483,787 -10.9 988 6 2,240 128,322,287 Fox
Top 5 $ 76,223,121 $ 56,253,339 35.5
Top 10 110,020,537 83,820,528 31.3
Top 20 143,679,307 103,429,949 38.9
Top 20 vs. Labor Day 2012 143,679,307 124,367,423 15.5

Last Updated: September 3, 2013 at 6:40PM ET

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