Showing potent staying power, Lee Daniels' "The Butler" is catching up with Sony/TriStar's "One Direction: This Is Us" at the Labor Day box office.
Either way, "One Direction" is no slouch. Morgan Spurlock's 3-D concert film about the hit British boy band has grossed $17 million in its first three days to top the three-day chart, putting it on course to score one of the best Labor Day openings of all time. The film, costing a modest $10 million to make, is a needed win for Sony and restores some luster to the concert documentary genre.
Opening overseas as well, "One Direction" grossed $12.6 million from 53 markets — including a No. 1 debut in the U.K. with $5.7 million.
Still, there's now a chance that "The Butler" could narrowly beat "One Direction" in the U.S. for the official four-day holiday weekend (each film is pacing to gross in the $19 million to $20 million range). If so, "The Butler" — grossing $14.7 million for the Friday-Sunday stretch — becomes the first film of 2013 to come in No. 1 three weekends in a row, while it's projected domestic gross through Sunday is an impressive $78.7 million.
One Direction, opening in more than 2,500 theaters domestically and receiving an A CinemaScore, is produced by Spurlock and Simon Cowell, who first assembled the boy band — comprising Niall Horan, Zayn Malik, Liam Payne, Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson — after the musicians appeared as solo acts on the U.K.'s "The X Factor."
The film was the result of collaboration among various divisions of the sprawling Sony Corp. empire, including the feature film division, music and electronics. Spurlock used Sony's newly-launched F55 4K camera to shoot "One Direction," with a special crew of technicians from Japan aiding the filmmakers in integrating the new camera technology into their production process.
The concert documentary genre reached a low in July 2012 with the $7.2 million debut of Katy Perry concert doc "Part of Me." A high was set in 2008 when Miley Cyrus' "Hannah Montana" concert film "Best of Both Worlds" opened to $31 million, while Justin Bieber's concert doc "Never Say Never" debuted to $29.5 million February 2011.
Among the three other new Labor Day entries, Lionsgate and Pantelion's Spanish-language comedy "Instructions Not Included" is the only one to prosper. Playing in only 347 theaters, the movie is holding at No. 5 with a three-day opening of $7.5 million and stellar four-day debut of $9.3 million-plus.
"Instructions Not Included" — boosted by a rare A+ CinemaScore — marks the biggest opening ever for a Spanish-language film in North America. And it is already the highest-grossing film in Pantelion's history. Pantelion is a joint venture of Lionsgate and Televisa.
"Getaway," starring Ethan Hawke and Selena Gomez, is D.O.A. with an estimated three-day gross of $4.5 million and four-day gross of $5.5 million. The movie, one of the worst reviewed films of all time, did no better with moviegoers, who gave it a C+.
Directed by Courtney Solomon, the PG-13 film marks the final Dark Castle Entertainment title to be released by Warner Bros. as Joel Silver's production company commences its new deal with Universal. The movie follows a man (Hawke) and his passenger ("Spring Breakers" star Gomez) who are forced to drive around under the instructions of a person (Jon Voight) who is holding the man's wife hostage.
Political thriller "Closed Circuit," from Working Title Films and released by Focus Features in the U.S., fared no better. Headlining Eric Bana and opening Wednesday, the movie is projected to earn a scant $3.5 million through Sunday.
"Closed Circuit" was directed by John Crowley from a script by Steven Knight. The rated-R crime thriller stars Bana and Rebecca Hall as attorneys working on a high profile case involving a Muslim man accused of setting off a bomb in London. The British thriller has a 41 percent positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes.