Labor Day weekend box office turned in a nail-biting battle for No. 1, with Sony’s music doc “One Direction: This Is Us” taking an early lead, estimating $20.5 million in four days, enough to beat “Lee Daniels’ The Butler,” which the Weinstein Co. projects will earn $19.5 million Friday-Monday.
The weekend’s race for box office bragging rights will be a photo finish: It’s very likely that the two films could switch rankings when studios release their revised four-day estimates on Monday. If “The Butler” winds up winning, it will be the first film this year to be No. 1 at the box office for three straight weekends.
“I definitely think they’re both in the $20 million-plus range for the four days,” admitted Sony distribution topper Rory Bruer. “But it’s all good really.”
Indeed, the weekend perf for “One Direction,” a low-risk venture for Sony, positions the film well financially, especially with an additional $14.5 million from overseas this weekend.
The film, which cost just $10 million to produce, represents an interesting cross-divisional project primarily for Sony Pictures and Sony Music, which represents the Brit-pop boy band. Not surprisingly, the docu earned 87% of its opening from women, with 67% of the audience under 17.
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For “The Butler,” meanwhile, the holiday weekend — which likely saw a bump in traffic for some films due to the nationwide heat wave — proved better-than-expected since the film fell just 11% over the three days. So far, the film has broadened demographically, with $74 million and counting domestically.
Tapping into the Latino audience in a big way was Lionsgate’s “Instructions Not Included,” via Hispanic-targeted label Pantelion, scoring the largest Stateside opening for a Spanish-language film, with $9.3 million in four days. Even more impressive was the film bowed at only 347 locations, averaging $26,800 per theater.
The weekend’s other two wide releases bellyflopped, however.
Warner Bros.’ Selena Gomez actioner “Getaway” grossed just $4.5 million in three days, while Focus Features’ suspense-thriller “Closed Circuit” earned a meager $2.5 million Friday-Sunday. Pic bowed midweek, totaling an estimated $3.1 million in its first six days.
Aside from those new entries underperforming, this weekend was good news for a trio of holdovers: Paramount’s “World War Z,” a Skydance-GK Films co-production, reached $200 million-plus at the domestic box office, the eighth film to do so this year.
Meanwhile, Warner Bros.’ “Pacific Rim” and WB-New Line’s “We’re the Millers” each crossed $100 million Stateside, bringing the nine-figure club to 21 so far in 2013.