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Box office update: 'One Direction: This Is Us' pops on Friday with $8.9 million

One Direction fans are known for being, er, passionate — and their passion sent the boy band’s 3-D concert doc straight to the top of the chart on Friday. One Direction: This Is Us earned $8.9 million on its first day in theaters ($2.7 million of which came from late Thursday shows), easily pummeling the competition. This Is Us, which only cost about $10 million to produce, fared better on its first day than Michael Jackson’s This Is It ($7.4 million), though it trailed Justin Bieber: Never Say Never ($12.4 million). Over the four-day weekend, Sony expects the film to pull in about $24 million, which would make it director Morgan Spurlock’s highest grossing film by far, surpassing Super Size Me‘s $11.5 million total.

Lee Daniels’ The Butler stepped down into second place with $3.6 million, with We’re the Millers close behind in third at $3.1 million. The leggy performers should finish the four-day weekend with $16 million and $14.5 million, respectively.

In fourth place, Planes flew away with $1.7 million, while Elysium rounded out the Top 5 with another $1.6 million. Both holdovers, which are currently in their third weekend, drew bigger crowds than Warner Bros.’ new release Getaway, which pulled in an anemic $1.4 million from 1,553 theaters. The poorly reviewed Ethan Hawke/Selena Gomez vehicle might take in just over $5 million against an $18 million budget across the long weekend.

1. One Direction: This Is Us – $8.9 million
2. Lee Daniels’ The Butler – $3.6 million
3. We’re the Millers – $3.1 million
4. Planes – $1.7 million
5. Elysium – $1.6 million

Check back tomorrow for another box office update.

Box office preview: 'One Direction: This Is Us' takes on 'The Butler' over Labor Day weekend

Among holidays at the box office, Labor Day tends to be right up there with New Year’s as one of the weakest. Most folks spend the weekend cooking out or catching a few rays before summer is officially “over,” and studios tend to avoid releasing new films — and sometimes, they burn off their duds — during the low-attendance frame. But Sony’s move to open the concert doc One Direction: This Is Us over Labor Day makes sense. No matter when they’d scheduled the film, legions of loyal 1D fangirls would turn out all the same. Nothing comes between them and their boys.

And nothing is coming between One Direction and the number one spot…. except maybe The Butler, which could add a third weekend at No. 1 to its already impressive streak. Either way, both films should earn markedly more than the weekend’s other new wide release, Getaway, whose title seems to mirror most critics’ feelings about it. Here’s how the four-day weekend might play out:

1. One Direction: This Is Us – $22 million
Bring on the teens! The glossy concert film, the latest in the modern wave of pop-docs, will certainly open above last year’s Katy Perry: Part of Me ($7.3 million), but it likely won’t be able to match the debut of Justin Bieber: Never Say Never ($29 million). When Never Say Never was released, the Biebs had reached a level of pop-saturation that One Direction, though massively popular, haven’t quite hit. Still, the band, who recently broke the Today Show‘s attendance record by attracting 18,000 fans to Rockefeller Center and scored two No. 1 albums in 2012, have a passionate fanbase that should push their film to the top of the box office. Over four days, Sony’s $10 million doc, directed by Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me), may draw about $22 million — much of which will come from 3-D ticket sales. READ FULL STORY

Box office report: 'The Butler' cleans up with $25 million, wipes the floor with 'Kick-Ass 2'

This weekend at the box office, a superhero comedy, a Steve Jobs biopic, and a Harrison Ford thriller all got served by a butler. Lee Daniels’ The Butler, to be exact. The Weinstein Company’s awards-bait drama, which stars Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey, topped the chart with an excellent $25 million from 2,933 theaters in its first frame. Audiences issued the well-reviewed picture an enthusiastic “A” CinemaScore grade, which sets it up for a lucrative box office run as summer draws to a close.

The Butler opened in the same range as The Help, which found $26 million in its first weekend in August 2011. Like that film, The Butler tells a racially charged story that is playing particularly well with older women. According to Weinstein, crowds were 60 percent female and 76 percent above the age of 35. Winfrey’s presence no doubt helped lure in many of those ticket-buyers, as did The Butler‘s “inspired by a true story” cachet.
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Box office update: 'The Butler' dishes out $8.3 million Friday, kicks 'Kick-Ass 2' to the curb

Oprah Winfrey doesn’t lend her name to just any project, but when she does, you can be sure that people will take notice. Her latest effort — and first film in over a decade – Lee Daniels’ The Butler, proved extra appealing to ticket buyers. The period drama, which also stars Forest Whitaker and Terrence Howard, served up $8.3 million on its first Friday, which puts it on pace for a $25 million weekend and an easy first place finish. READ FULL STORY

Box office preview: 'Kick-Ass 2' may get served by 'The Butler' this weekend

Welcome to the dog days of the August box office, when studios flood theaters with their final summer releases before the prestigious fall season begins.  Last weekend, four new releases entered theaters, this weekend four new releases are hitting the big screen, and heck — next week, four more new releases are opening.

This week’s new movies — Kick-Ass 2, Lee Daniels’ The Butler, Jobs, and Paranoia — fall into two camps: the number one contenders and the likely underperformers. Here’s how the weekend may play out:

1. Lee Daniels’ The Butler – $25 million
The Danny Strong-penned historical drama, which stars Forest Whitaker, John Cusack, Terrence Howard, and, notably, Oprah Winfrey, may be able to swipe the top spot away from Kick-Ass 2. Sure, Weinstein, which is releasing the $30 million film about longtime White House butler Eugene Allen, says it’s expecting a debut in the high-teens, but stories about race in American culture are reliably appealing at the box office (42 opened to $27.5 million earlier this year; The Help opened to $25 million in August 2011).

The Butler is also a patriotic tale and its real-life inspiration makes it even more appealing for audiences. Oscar fans will flock to the first awards-bait of 2013, history buffs that loved Lincoln will turn out to see presidents come to life on screen, and audiences that love Oprah (according to a Fandango poll, 72 percent of ticket-buyers said she increased their likelihood to see the film) won’t miss the chance to catch her in a rare scripted role. Out in 2,933 theaters, The Butler may take in about $25 million. READ FULL STORY

Box office report: 'Elysium' tops crowded weekend with $30.5 million; 'We're The Millers' strong in second

Matt Damon scored his best box office debut since leaving the Bourne franchise thanks to Elysium, which flew into first place this weekend with $30.5 million. The Neill Blomkamp-directed film started off smaller than his debut feature, District 9, which began with $37.4 million in 2009. That’s problematic for Sony, which entrusted the South African director with a $115 million budget for Elysium. If the film performs similarly to District 9, which ended its run with $115.6 million, it’s headed to a $94 million domestic finish; though, it seems unlikely that Elysium will have strong legs (even if they are robotically enhanced) given its tepid reception and “B” CinemaScore grade.

Elysium couldn’t match the debuts of fellow original sci-fi tales like Oblivion and Pacific Rim, both of which opened above $37 million earlier this year, but it did outdraw After Earth, which grossed a weak $27.5 million in its debut weekend. Elysium played best with men, who made up 61 percent of the crowd (sci-fi is now the only genre that reliably attracts more men than women), and it opened very well on 328 IMAX screens, which accounted for $4.9 million (16 percent) of its opening weekend total. Overall, the film earned a $9,287 average from 3,284 theaters.

The big winner of the weekend finished in second place. Jason Sudeikis and Jennifer Aniston’s R-rated pot comedy We’re the Millers smoked expectations with $26.6 million over the Friday-to-Sunday period. The film, which opened on Wednesday, has grossed $38 million in its first five days in theaters — already earning back its $37 million budget. We’re the Millers started in the same range as Horrible Bosses (another film starring Sudeikis and Aniston), which opened with $28.3 million en route to a $117.3 million finish, as well as The Campaign, which opened with $26.6 million on the same weekend last year.
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Box office update: 'Elysium' and 'We're the Millers' outpace 'Planes' on Friday

After a few lackluster weekends in a row, the box office ticked up on Friday thanks to the appeal of four new releases. The strongest of the quartet was Elysium, Sony’s $115 million sci-fi adventure starring Matt Damon, which grossed $11.2 million on its first day. Given the frontloaded nature of sci-fi films, Elysium may miss the $30 million mark and finish the weekend with $29 million — a substantial step down from director Neill Blomkamp’s District 9, which began with $37.4 million in 2009.

In second place, Jason Sudeikis’ and Jennifer Aniston’s comedic re-teaming We’re the Millers pulled in a hearty $8.5 million on its first Friday, which should lead to a $25.5 million weekend. Warner Bros. spent only $37 million on the R-rated comedy, and factoring in the $11.5 million the film grossed on Wednesday and Thursday, We’re the Millers will have matched that $37 million after five days in theaters.
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Box office preview: 'Elysium' may lift off faster than 'Planes'

This week, four new releases — Elysium, Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, Planes, and We’re the Millers — are flooding theaters, and they will likely take up the first four spots at the box office. Here’s how the chart might look this weekend:

1. Elysium – $32 million
Sony’s $115 million sci-fi film has the best shot at winning the weekend, though it may not be able to match the debut of director Neill Blomkamp’s first film, District 9, which opened with $37.4 million in 2009. Matt Damon’s star power will certainly draw crowds, but in a summer that’s been stuffed with sci-fi fare, Elysium is a high-concept original film arriving rather late to the party. Comparable titles include Oblivion, which opened with $37.1 million, and Pacific Rim, which opened with $37.2 million, but Elysium may have to work harder to reach those heights with an R rating. The film could open to about $32 million this weekend.
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'Elysium' clip: Sharlto Copley exterminates the resistance -- VIDEO

In Elysium, director Neill Blomkamp’s political science-fiction follow-up to 2009’s District 9, Matt Damon plays a poor factory drone whose only chance at survival is reaching the utopian satellite that orbits Earth where the world’s richest people now reside in luxury. He only has five days to live after being exposed to radiation during a workplace accident, but Elysium isn’t about to share its medical technology with some Earthling peon. Jodie Foster plays Elysium’s frosty bureaucrat who sics her henchman, played by District 9‘s Sharlto Copley, on the desperate renegades.

In this scene, Copley’s heavily-armed team drops in on Damon and his crew. The mission is clear: extermination, and though the hero survives, one poor revolutionary isn’t fast enough to outrun Elysium’s explosive weapon-technology. It’s a gruesome sight, worth a warning in advance. Watch it below: READ FULL STORY

'Elysium': Jodie Foster character written for a man

In the new movie Elysium (opening Aug. 9), written and directed by Neill Blomkamp (District 9), Jodie Foster plays a sort of Secretary of Defense for Elysium, an elite satellite hovering above Earth, where the wealthy live apart from the wretched human life on a poor and polluted planet. Her character, Secretary Delacourt, is power-hungry and decidedly anti-immigrant. READ FULL STORY

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