'One Direction' edges 'Butler', sings its way to box office win

Sun Sep 1, 2013 3:05pm EDT
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By Ronald Grover and Chris Michaud

LOS ANGELES/NEW YORK (Reuters) - Concert film "One Direction: This is Us," a Sony Pictures/TriStar release featuring the red-hot British boy band One Direction, won the weekend box office race with ticket sales of $17 million, edging the civil rights drama "Lee Daniels' The Butler" which had been the top film for the past two weeks.

The Weinstein Company's "The Butler," starring Forest Whitaker as a long-serving White House butler, generated $14.7 million in ticket sales at domestic theaters from Friday through Sunday, according to studio estimates which did not include projected sales for the U.S. Labor Day holiday on Monday.

Its sales have totaled more than $74 million and the film is generating awards season buzz, including for co-star Oprah Winfrey, who plays Whitaker's wife.

Warner Bros' Jennifer Aniston hit, "We're the Millers," and starring Jason Sudeikis in the drug smuggling comedy, was third with $12.6 million at U.S. and Canadian theaters.

For "One Direction", Sony worked with sister company Sony Music, which distributes the group's music, to make the film, and signed Oscar-nominated director Morgan Spurlock to direct.

The clean-cut five-singer group, which finished third in the British version of the musical competition show "The X Factor" in 2010, has sold more than 10 million albums and 19 million singles, according to its management company's website.

"We are thrilled with our result," said Rory Bruer, Sony Pictures' president of worldwide distribution. "It exceeded our expectations not only domestically, but everywhere, worldwide."

The film's opening looked to fall just shy of industry expectations of $22 million in ticket sales over the holiday weekend, with Hollywood.com's box office division projecting a $20.5 million total.   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