'One Direction' edges 'Butler', sings its way to box office win

By Ronald Grover and Chris Michaud

LOS ANGELES/NEW YORK (Reuters) - Concert film "One Direction: This is Us," a Sony Pictures/TriStar release featuring the red-hot British boy band One Direction, won the weekend box office race with ticket sales of $17 million, edging the civil rights drama "Lee Daniels' The Butler" which had been the top film for the past two weeks.

The Weinstein Company's "The Butler," starring Forest Whitaker as a long-serving White House butler, generated $14.7 million in ticket sales at domestic theaters from Friday through Sunday, according to studio estimates which did not include projected sales for the U.S. Labor Day holiday on Monday.

Its sales have totaled more than $74 million and the film is generating awards season buzz, including for co-star Oprah Winfrey, who plays Whitaker's wife.

Warner Bros' Jennifer Aniston hit, "We're the Millers," and starring Jason Sudeikis in the drug smuggling comedy, was third with $12.6 million at U.S. and Canadian theaters.

For "One Direction", Sony worked with sister company Sony Music, which distributes the group's music, to make the film, and signed Oscar-nominated director Morgan Spurlock to direct.

The clean-cut five-singer group, which finished third in the British version of the musical competition show "The X Factor" in 2010, has sold more than 10 million albums and 19 million singles, according to its management company's website.

"We are thrilled with our result," said Rory Bruer, Sony Pictures' president of worldwide distribution. "It exceeded our expectations not only domestically, but everywhere, worldwide."

The film's opening looked to fall just shy of industry expectations of $22 million in ticket sales over the holiday weekend, with Hollywood.com's box office division projecting a $20.5 million total.

The film added another $14.5 million in 53 international markets, led by the United Kingdom.

Disney's 2008 film "Hanna Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert" holds the record opening for the genre with $31.1 million, according to Hollywood.com. "Justin Bieber: Never Say Never," released by Paramount Pictures in 2011, opened with $29.5 million.

Walt Disney's animated film "Planes" was fourth for the weekend with ticket sales of $7.8 million.

The fifth slot was a strong $7.5 million opening for "Instructions Not Included," starring and directed by Mexican television star Eugenio Derbez. It was the biggest Spanish-language opening ever in North America and positioned the film to become one of the highest-grossing Spanish-language films ever, Hollywood.com said.

The film was a co-venture for Lionsgate studio and Mexican television network Televisa.

"It was a perfect storm. A huge star with a tremendous following, audiences loving the film giving it an A+ CinemaScore, good reviews," said David Spitz, executive vice president of theatrical distribution for Lionsgate. "It was a good opportunity to premier the film in the U.S."

Another new film opening widely, "Getaway," Warner Bros.' low-budget high speed action film starring Ethan Hawke as a former race car driver racing to save his kidnapped wife, managed only ninth place with $4.5 million in ticket sales, according to data made available by the Hollywood.com.

"Mortal Instruments," which stars Lily Collins as a teen girl who works to protect the world from demons, had weekend sales of $5.2 million for the No. 7 spot. The movie, another bid to reach the teen audience that made "Twilight" a blockbuster, is based on a popular series of young adult novels written by Cassandra Clare.

Sony Corp's movie studio also released "Mortal Instruments". Warner Bros is a unit of Time Warner Inc.

(Editing by Sandra Maler and Bob Burgdorfer)

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