Oprah's 'Butler' serves up box office win ahead of 'One Direction'

Mon Sep 2, 2013 3:43pm EDT
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By Ronald Grover and Chris Michaud

(Reuters) - Civil rights drama "Lee Daniels' The Butler" continued to serve up box office victories with $20 million in ticket sales over the long U.S. Labor Day weekend, leading Hollywood's box office for the third straight weekend.

Hollywood box office tracking services had given the crown to the concert film "One Direction: This is Us," featuring the red hot British boy band, based on estimates on Sunday morning, before the U.S. holiday on Monday.

"The Butler," the story of an African American man who served as a White House butler for eight U.S. presidents, has grossed $79.3 million in ticket sales since opening on August 16, according to Hollywood.com on Monday.

The film, distributed by the Weinstein Company, is generating awards season buzz and stars Forest Whitaker as the title character opposite Oprah Winfrey as his hard-drinking wife.

"One Direction: This is Us," a Sony Pictures/TriStar release, led the box office through Sunday but fell behind when "The Butler" enjoyed strong Monday showings. Sony also reduced its three-day estimate to $15.8 million from $17 million for the first three days.

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.

"'One Direction' sprinted out of the gate and had a huge opening day, and as is typical of the young moviegoer, they rushed out to see the film immediately," said Paul Dergarabedian, president of the box office division of Hollywood.com. "Older audiences take their time and that's evident by 'The Butler's' steady rise."

Warner Bros' Jennifer Aniston hit, "We're the Millers," which also stars Jason Sudeikis in the drug smuggling comedy, was third with $15.9 million in ticket sales over the long weekend. It totaled $112.9 million in the U.S. and Canada.   Continued...

Actress Oprah Winfrey, a cast member of the film "Lee Daniels' The Butler", poses at the film's premiere in Los Angeles August 12, 2013. REUTERS/Fred Prouser