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Labor day box office: 'The Butler' beats down boy band

This weekend at the box office, what looked like a win for "One Direction: This is Us" became a last minute upset when "The Butler" brought the pain.

Forest Whitaker contemplates giving One Direction a smackdown in "Lee Daniels' The Butler." Credit: Anna Marie Fox Forest Whitaker contemplates giving One Direction a smackdown in "Lee Daniels' The Butler."
Credit: Anna Marie Fox

Though it had the edge over most of the holiday weekend, the concert movie “One Direction: This is Us” wound up losing to “Lee Daniels’ The Butler,” which threw in a leftfield boy band beatdown to become the winner of the North American box office for the third week in a row.

“The Butler” has seen sales totaling more than $74 million, $20 million of which came from the four-day Labor Day weekend. Starring Forest Whitaker as a butler at the White House from the 1950s to the 1980s, the film has endured some controversy, but not enough, evidently, to actively dissuade moviegoers.

“One Direction: This is Us” grossed not that much less, with $17 million over four days. The film, unexpectedly directed by “Super Size Me” stunt documentarian Morgan Spurlock, raced to the top on Friday, but saw its grosses drop by Saturday.

In third and still going strong in its fourth weekend was “We’re the Millers,” starring Jason Sudeikis and Jennifer Aniston as a drug dealer and stripper, respectively, who pose as a suburban family to better smuggle marijuana over the Mexican border. It added another $15.9 million to its haul, totaling $112.8 million, giving Aniston (and Sudeikis) a much-needed blockbuster.

Also boasting a tiny drop from last weekend, was Disney’s “Planes,” which started slow but has wound up hanging in there. It grossed $10.6 million for what is now a $73.7 million cume.

The biggest shock was the Mexican comedy-drama “Instructions Not Included” cracking the top five. Directed by and starring television star Eugenio Derbez, it made a strong $10 million, making it the biggest ever opening for a Spanish-language film, and all but ensuring it to become the largest Spanish-language film at the North American box office.
Elsewhere in the top ten, the Matt Damon political sci-fi venture “Elysium” hit sixth place with $8.3 million, and two YA entries — “The Mortal Instruments” and “Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters” — continued to be ignored, grossing $6.8 million and $6 million each.

On a more sad note, “The World’s End,” Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost’s delightful apocalyptic booze comedy, fell 30% from last weekend to eight with $6 million, which should put it around the modest takings of their last outing, 2007’s “Hot Fuzz.”

Puttering to a crash was “Getaway,” Warner Bros.’ low budget muscle car action film, starring Ethan Hawke as a man forced to perform reckless high octane deeds by a mysterious man who has kidnapped his wife. The film also starred Selena Gomez, but only made the number 10 slot with a puny $5.5 million.

 
 
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