The British boy band documentary One Direction: This Is Us led a fairly quiet Labor Day Weekend at the North American box office in beating out The Butler for the number one spot. The real news, however, was the huge fifth place opening for the Latino comedy Instructions Not Included, which opened on a very small number of screens but nonetheless produced a big per-screen average. Two other new wide releases, Warner’s Getaway and Focus Features’ Closed Circuit were both dead on arrival. With most of the holdovers displaying decent holds, the Labor Day top ten was up a moderate eight percent from the top ten in 2012.
Fans that have made One Direction a global phenomenon headed en masse to the multiplexes this weekend as the documentary This Is Us arrived in 2,735 theaters to earn an estimated $17 million since its opening Thursday night. Produced by Simon Cowell and directed by Super-Size Me filmmaker Morgan Spurlock, the $10 million production was marketed directly to the band’s fan base and not too much further beyond that. As such, the film had a big opening day of $8.8 million and then proceeded to tail off after that, so much so that the movie dropped to third place on both Saturday and Sunday, trailing both The Butler and We’re the Millers on each day. With the demand largely being up front, the documentary’s theatrical shelf life should be on the short but profitable side. Speaking of profit, a handful of day-and-date foreign markets added $14 million to the $31 million global total.
Don’t be too surprised if the winner of the four-day weekend top ten goes to former two-time champ Lee Daniels’ The Butler. The movie only lost 10% of its audience from last weekend and should have a solid Labor Day as most adults will be off from work. For the Friday-to-Sunday period, The Butler earned a great $14.7 million from 3,330 screens to bring its three week total to $74 million. The film should cross the $100 million mark within the next few weeks.
Warner’s We’re the Millers had another great weekend as people looked to close out their summer with a laugh or two. The Jason Sudeikis comedy eased a mere 3.4% to earn $12.6 million from 3,445 screens in its fourth week. The one-month total stands at a big $109.5 million and could work its way to $130-135 million by the end of September. In fourth place was Disney’s durable late-summer family flick Planes, which was only off 9.6% to earn $7.7 million on 3,259 screens. After four weeks, the Cars wannabe has earned $70.8 million. With school now back in session the movie should start its cinematic descent and land with approximately $85 million in the bank.
Have you heard of Instructions Not Included? I have to admit that until today, I have not but apparently a lot of people have. The film only opened on 347 screens nationwide but that didn’t stop it from earning a huge $7.5 million in its first three days. The $21,614 per screen average was not only the best in the top ten this weekend; it was the best per-screen average of any movie currently in North American release. The $5 million Spanish/English-language comedy was directed by and stars popular Mexican actor Eugenio Derbez. Instructions Not Included is the tale of man and his family whose life is threatened when the birth mother of the man’s daughter resurfaces after six years.
The news wasn’t as rosy for the two remaining wide releases of the weekend. Labor Day weekend is usually the bad movie dumping ground, where duds are unleashed in the hopes of nabbing a few million bucks over the long weekend. For Warner Brothers, that turkey was the Ethan Hawke action thriller Getaway. The car thriller from the director of Dungeons and Dragons was neither fast nor furious in its first three days on 2,130 screens, earning a pitiful $4.5 million to barely place in the top ten. Reviews were nearly universal pans from the nation’s critics, earning a sterling two percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Watch for a Blu-ray/DVD announcement from the studio within the next few days (if not hours).
The second debuting dud was Focus Features’ government conspiracy thriller Closed Circuit. The British drama starring Eric Bana and Rebecca Hall opened on 870 screens last Wednesday and quietly amassed $3 million in its first five days to land in fifteenth place. Critical notices for the drama were on the weak side (41% approval on Rotten Tomatoes), which can prove deadly for an R-rated adult thriller. Making such a predictable movie can also prove fatal to its box office potential as well.
The remainder of the top ten is as follows:
6. Elysium (Sony) $6.3 million (-9%); $78.4 million
7. The Mortal Instruments (Sony) $5.2 million (-44%); $22.6 million
8. The World’s End (Focus) $$4.7 million (-46%); $16.5 million
10. Percy Jackson (Fox) $4.4 million (-16%); $55 million
Next weekend it’s Riddick Time as the popular Vin Diesel character returns for a third big screen outing and first with an R rating since the original.
– Shawn Fitzgerald