Labor Day Weekend Box Office: The Butler Edges Out One Direction for Third Straight Win

By Chris Kavan - 09/02/13 at 03:25 PM CT

Even though the boy band put up quite the fight, it was still a historical drama that managed to win the long Labor Day weekend. Although the overall box office was down compared to last year, it was still a busy box office with 18 films earning $1 million plus for the holiday. The biggest news from the weekend didn't come from any of the major films, but from a limited-release targeting the Hispanic market that managed to break into the top five. Here is the breakdown:


Although the One Direction concert movie could claim the weekend title, with Labor Day factored in it was Lee Daniels' The Butler that came out on top. With $14.9 million for the weekend The Butler has a surge and wound up with $20 million for the four days. The total puts it at $79.3 million and it will cross the $100 million mark before it's done. That finish also makes The Butler the first film to take the top spot for three consecutive weeks for the 2013 movie season.


The concert documentary directed by Morgan Spurlock managed to win the three-day weekend with $15.8 million, but turned out to be incredibly front-loaded on Friday (actually setting a record for the biggest share ever with 55.8%) and fell to second with an $18 million total over the four days. While the documentary couldn't match the $23 million plus openings from the likes of Justin Bieber and Michael Jackson - it did do noticeably better than recent outings from Katy Perry and the Jonas Brothers. Unsurprisingly the audience was mostly female (87%) and under 17 (65%). They gave it an A cinemescore, but given the target audience (and the front-loaded performance) this is likely to fall off rather quickly, even without competition.


Jennifer Aniston had reason to celebrate as We're the Millers became the sixth film she's starred in to date to cross the $100 million mark. It took in $12.7 for the weekend ($15.7 million total) and now stands at $112.9 million. The movie looks on pace to cross $125 million before it ends its run.


The Cars spin-off continued flying steady taking in $10.6 million for the four day holiday weekend (though it fell short of $7.8 million three day weekend total for Instructions Not Included). Still, the would-have-been straight to video Planes has made tidy $73.75 million and should near the $80 million mark by next weekend. Not bad for a $50 million investment - whoever decided to release this in theaters should be given a fat bonus.


The big surprise for the weekend was the impressive debut of the Spanish family dramedy Instructions Not Included. Opening in just 347 theaters, it opened in fourth place over the weekend with $7.8 million ($10 million for the four-day holiday). Lionsgate has released other films in their Pantelion division - but Girl in Progress and No Eres Tu, Soy Yo earned just $2.4 million and $1.34 million respectively (both also starred Eugenio Derbez in the main role - as does Instructions Not Included). What factored into this being so much better? Maybe it was the focus on family or the timing - but whatever the reason, it struck the correct chord - earning a rare A+ from audiences and Lionsgate will most likely be expanding it nationwide given its word of mouth and impressive numbers. It also proves that Hispanic audiences are a force all their own and I wouldn't be surprised to see more films like this doing better business.

Outside the top 10: Two other nationwide debuts had pretty terrible openings. The Fast and Furious clone Getaway, starring Ethan Hawke and Selena Gomez, had some of the most scathing reviews of the year and landed with a thud in 9th place with just $5.53 million ($4.45 for the three day weekend). That is comparable to Bullet to the Head, though that is not a milestone to be proud of by any stretch.

On the other hand Closed Circuit opened well outside the top 10 with $2.54 million ($3.06 million for the holiday). It was a loss for Focus Features who couldn't match past Labor Day released like The Debt and The American. Opening at just 897 theaters, it isn't likely to expand much given the tepid response.

World War Z managed to cross the $200 million mark, adding another $1.6 million. Pacific Rim also managed to creep passed the $100 million mark by adding $970,000 to its total.

Next week the only major release is Riddick, but it will be interesting to see if Instructions Not Included expands and if it does, how well it will do with a wider audience.


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