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Further boosting its profile, Lee Daniels' The Butler topped the box office in its second weekend with $17 million, pushing its total to $52.3 million and becoming Daniel's most successful film in North America.
The Weinstein Co. release -- headlining Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey -- fell just 31 percent as it surpassed the $47.6 million earned by Daniels' acclaimed drama Precious in 2009.
The Oscar hopeful is broadening out in terms of its appeal to white moviegoers, with Caucasians making up 55 percent of this weekend's audience, compared to 48 percent on opening weekend. The percentage of African-Americans dipped from 39 percent to 33 percent (still far higher than the norm).
"What happens is that when you get a picture that gets great reaction, word of mouth spreads," said Erik Lomis, president of distribution for TWC, noting that The Butler is also skewing younger. On opening weekend, 76 percent of ticket buyers were over the age of 25; that number has now dropped to 62 percent.
The Butler wasn't the only holdover to beat the weekend's three new films. New Line's Jason Sudeikis and Jennifer Aniston raunchy comedy We're the Millers fell a scant 25 percent in its third weekend, grossing $13.5 million to place No. 2.
The R-rated sleeper hit has now grossed $91.7 million in a major victory for New Line and parent company Warner Bros. following the success of The Conjuring, which cleared the $200 million mark over the weekend at the worldwide box office. We're the Millers and Conjuring will be sizeable profit generators, considering they cost $37 million and $20 million to make, respectively.
Among the trio of new offerings, the results were disappointing for Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, which took in $9.3 million for the weekend and $14 million for five days (the pic opened Wednesday).
Based on Cassandra Clare's popular supernatural young-adult book series, Mortal Instruments is the latest YA property to disappoint. The $60 million film, starring Lily Collins as a demon-hunting teen, was produced and financed by Germany's Constantin Films.
In the U.S., females made up 68 percent of the audience, while 46 percent of those buying tickets were under the age of 21. Sony is releasing Mortal Instruments domestically via its Screen Gems label.
Edgar Wright's modestly budgeted action-comedy The World's End fared nicely as it opened to $8.9 million from only 1,549 theaters, compared to 3,118 for Mortal Instruments and 2,437 for horror pic You're Next. From Focus Features, the $20 million movie, boosted by stellar reviews and a B+ CinemaScore, placed No. 4. It nabbed the highest location average of any title in the top 10 ($5,773) thanks to diehard fans.
World's End, starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, follows a group of friends who reunite for an epic bar crawl only to discover that their hometown has been infested with supernatural beings. Written by Wright and Pegg, the comedy -- fueled by males (58 percent) -- opened ahead of their Shaun of the Dead ($3.3 million) and Hot Fuzz ($5.8 million) and did best in cities including New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Portland and Austin. College graduates made up nearly 60 percent of those buying tickets.
"It's very satisfying to see our strategy pay off -- target the core and don't worry about anything else," Focus Features president of distribution Jack Foley said. "This is pretty big for a picture like this when competing with films playing on many more screens."
By opening World's End on 1,549 theaters, Focus was able to keep marketing costs down.