'The Butler' works its way to second box office win

Sun Aug 25, 2013 2:35pm EDT
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By Lisa Richwine and Chris Michaud

LOS ANGELES/NEW YORK (Reuters) - Civil rights drama "Lee Daniels' The Butler" took home its second U.S. and Canadian box office title, topping a Jennifer Aniston comedy and a newly released supernatural teen film.

"The Butler," starring Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey, earned $17 million in ticket sales from Friday through Sunday, according to studio estimates. Jennifer Aniston comedy "We're the Millers" came in second with $13.5 million.

Among three late summer newcomers, "Mortal Instruments: City of Bones" landed in third with $9.3 million, comedy "The World's End" finished fourth with $8.9 million, while low-budget horror film "You're Next" only managed the No. 7 slot, with $7.1 million.

"The Butler," which also topped movie charts a week ago, is inspired by the real-life story of an African American man who served as a White House butler for eight U.S. presidents. Whitaker stars as the title character and Winfrey plays his chain-smoking, hard-drinking wife.

The movie distributed by The Weinstein Company has rung up sales of $52.3 million through its first two weekends, far surpassing its $25 million budget paid by 28 investors, and is drumming up buzz as an awards season contender.

"Mortal Instruments," which stars Lily Collins as a teen who works to protect the world from demons, performed best among the weekend's new entries. The movie, another bid to reach the teen audience that made "Twilight" a blockbuster, is based on a popular series of young adult novels written by Cassandra Clare.

German company Constantin Films produced "Mortal Instruments" for $60 million, and Sony paid for U.S. marketing and distribution. The movie opened Wednesday and added about $4.8 million ahead of the weekend, for a five-day total of $14.1 million.

Rory Bruer, Sony Pictures' president of worldwide distribution, said that as the weekend progressed the film saw increasing business from its base of teenage girls, and had performed within the studio's expectations.   Continued...

Actor Forest Whitaker, star of the new film "Lee Daniels' The Butler," poses at the film's premiere in Los Angeles, California August 12, 2013. REUTERS/Fred Prouser