Surging ‘The Butler’ Could Overhaul ‘One Direction’ at Box Office

If it pulls off upset, civil rights saga would be first film of 2013 to win three straight weekends

Last Updated: July 16, 2014 @ 3:19 PM

“Lee Daniels’ The Butler” surged on Saturday, while “One Direction: This Is Us” faded — and suddenly it’s a horse race for the Labor Day weekend box office crown.

The Weinstein Company’s civil rights saga has topped the domestic box office for the past two weeks. It took in $5.5 million Saturday, a more than 50 percent rise over its $3.6 million Friday total. At the same time, the concert documentary about the boy band was falling off by more than half from its $8.9 million debut, with just over $4 million Saturday.

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Sony’s “One Direction: This Is Us” was projected to win the weekend and should finish with around $20.5 million for the four days. It was playing just as expected — young (65 percent under 17) and 87 percent female. But the Saturday slip is surprising given the “A” CinemaScore, which typically translates to a word-of-mouth boost.

“The Butler,” which stars Oprah Winfrey and Forest Whitaker, is in that same range and TWC believes it can pull off the upset. If “The Butler” does win, it would be the first film of 2013 to claim three consecutive weekends. Even if it doesn’t, it’s an impressive showing by the Oscar hopeful, which is up to $75 million domestically.

Sony rolled out “One Direction: This is Us” in 53 foreign markets this weekend and it took in $14.5 million. It was huge in the lads’ home country the U.K., where it rung up $5.7 million from 650 screens. That’s 16 percent bigger than the opening of the “Hannah Montana” concert movie and is bigger than the total gross of “Justin Bieber: Never Say Never.”

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The rest of the leaders were largely unchanged from Friday. Warner Bros’ Jennifer Aniston pot comedy “We’re the Millers” was running third and will likely wind up north of $15 million for the four days. It passed the $100 million mark on Friday. Disney’s animated family film “Planes” was next, and may hit $11 million for the long weekend.

Lionsgate and Pantelion’s Spanish-language family comedy “Instructions Not Included” – which opened on just 347 screens Friday — was battling Sony’s Matt Damon sci-fi thriller “Elysium” for fifth. Mexican comic Eugenio Derbez wrote, produced, directed and stars in “Instructions.” It brought $2.7 million Friday and is on track to wind up north of $9 million, with “Elysium” looking at around $8 million at this point.

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Thing were still looking bleak for the weekend’s other two wide openers.

Warner Bros.’ Selena Gomez-Ethan Hawke thriller “Getaway” added $1.5 million Saturday, up 11 percent from Friday, and looks like it will finish with around $6 million for the long weekend.
Focus Features’ Eric Bana spy tale “Closed Circuit” took in less than $1 million from 870 theaters and should finish the holiday at around $3.5 million.

Paramount’s Brad Pitt zombie movie “World War Z” will cross the $200 million mark at the domestic box office this weekend. Its Pitt’s biggest box office hit ever and has brought in more than $525 million worldwide.