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'The Butler' and 'We're the Millers' Continue Strong at Box Office, 'World's End' Could Be Wright's Biggest Grosser

Photo of Tom Brueggemann By Tom Brueggemann | Thompson on Hollywood August 24, 2013 at 3:21PM

Unlike some who find reporting on this kind of weekend not worth their time or analysis, there's a lot going on. For one thing, by Sunday the year's box office will officially be ahead of last year. For another, two solid late summer entries, "The Butler" and "We're the Millers," both held well to take the top two positions with signs of more success ahead. And three diverse new openers had variable success, led by Edgar Wright's acclaimed "The World's End" at just over 1,500 screens.
Lily Collins in "The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones"
Lily Collins in "The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones"

Sony's "The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones" (from its Screen Gems genre-release division) opened on Wednesday to get a couple extra days of vacation matinees (though many schools have already started), with yesterday's gross of $3.1 million bringing its three-day take to $7.9 million. With a $60 million production cost, this is another problem picture for Sony, though not with the initial expense of some of their other summer releases. This is a case where the end of summer and its dwindling returns won't help.

Lionsgate's "You're Next" was #5 for the day at just under $3 million. A low-budget acquisition at the 2011 Toronto Film Festival Midnight section (whose selections are nearly all released, but usually before two years have past), it likely will be passed by Disney's "Planes" for the full weekend. In a summer where a couple of lower budget horror films showed strength ("The Purge" and especially "The Conjuring"), this is a relative disappointment for reliable Lionsgate, but comes at lower risk and less than the usual marketing cost.

The other new entry in the top 10 (at #10) was Woody Allen's "Blue Jasmine," (Sony Pictures Classics) which jumped to 1,283 theaters, the widest ever for a Woody Allen film, although that statistic (and the relatively higher gross for this and "Midnight in Paris") is in part because of far more theaters today than in the "Annie Hall" era. The gross for the day, a bit under $1.2 million, shows the film performing (based on PSA in similar theater totals) at about 60% of the strength of the massively successful "Midnight." which in 10 months of non-stop play took in $56 million. "Jasmine" at this point looks like a $30-35 million film ultimately, with later awards-related re-releasing possibly boosting it. This would be a solid accomplishment for this mostly serious drama with far less guaranteed general audience appeal than most of Allen's most successful films.

The 7-9 slots were taken by Sony's "Elysium," and two fast falling sequels, Fox's "Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters" and "Kick-Ass 2,"

This article is related to: Box Office, Box Office, Box Office, The World's End, Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, Lee Daniels' The Butler

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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.