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The audience for “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” got younger and whiter as the civil rights saga this weekend rolled to its second consecutive victory at the North American box office.
The Oprah Winfrey-Forest Whitaker historical drama took in an estimated $17 million to easily beat out wide openers “Mortal Instruments: City of Bones,” the horror film “You’re Next” and “The World’s End,” none of which cracked $10 million over the three days.
“We’re the Millers,” the R-rated comedy starring Jennifer Aniston Jason Sudeikis, was second with $13.5 million in its third week. It was on a market-high 3,445 theaters – Warner Bros. expanded it by 120 locations – but that’s just a 26 percent drop from last weekend. With a domestic total of $91.7 million, it’s a sure bet to hit $100 million now, not bad for a movie that cost $37 million.
Woody Allen’s “Blue Jasmine,” which Sony Pictures Classics expanded from 229 theaters to 1,283, failed to break out but finished ninth overall with $4.3 million.
After “The Butler” played to crowds that were 76 percent over 35 years of age and nearly 40 percent African-American in its $25 million debut last weekend, the numbers dropped to 63 percent and 33 percent in its second week. The gender breakdown — 60 percent female — was steady.
The strong second week — it was down just 31 percent from its first week — and broadening demographic for “The Butler” is good news for the Weinstein Company. It makes an extended run more likely for the film, which is already generating Oscar buzz, and could potentially play through the awards season.
It tells the true story of Eugene Allen (Whitaker), a butler who served in the White House through eight presidential administrations. Oprah plays Allen’s wife.