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According to box office estimates, the film beat out "One Direction: This Is Us" to win the Labor Day weekend box office race and become the first movie this year to finish No. 1 three consecutive weeks, according to TheWrap.
It appears the civil rights saga, starring Oprah Winfrey and Forest Whitaker, will bring in a little more than $20 million over the four-day holiday weekend. After looking as if it was going to finish in the top spot, Sony's boy band music documentary ended the Labor Day weekend with $18 million.
"We're surprised," The Weinstein Company's distribution chief Erik Lomis told TheWrap, "and very proud. We weren't expecting to come away with this one, especially after starting out $5 million behind 'One Direction' after Friday."
Lomis said "The Butler," which has now brought in nearly $80 million domestically, was continuing to broaden its demographic base by playing younger.
"With the kids getting back to school, we're hoping the word of mouth gets even stronger," said Lomis. There's not much room to expand in terms of theaters; it's on 3,330 screens and averaged just over $6,000.
Two other wide openers - the Selena Gomez-Ethan Hawke thriller "Getaway" and the Eric Bana spy tale "Closed Circuit" - were both non-starters. But "Instructions Not Included," a family comedy starring Eugenio Derbez, recorded the biggest domestic opening ever for a Spanish-language movie - on just 347 screens - and finished fifth with $10 million for the four days.