The weekend box office champion for three weeks running is still "The Butler" the civil rights based historical drama partially based on the life of actual White House butler Eugene Allen. Over the Labor Day four-day weekend, the film managed to gross another $20 million, bringing the total to $79.3 million domestically.
"The Butler" held on to the top spot despite a slew of newcomers, like band film "One Direction: This is Us," which snagged $18 million during its debut weekend. It surged to first place Friday and Saturday, but civil rights era movie came out on top because of strong word of mouth- its sales only declined 10 percent since last weekend.
"The Getaway," which starred Ethan Hawke and Selena Gomez, flopped, bringing in only $5.5 million over the weekend.
"The Butler" had favorable reviews for actor Forest Whitaker, who played the silent and strong Cecil Gaines. His portrayal of an African-American father struggling to control his volatile son through turbulent times of racism impressed critics, who also noted Oprah Winfrey's subtle and uncharacteristic performance- she played a dissatisfied, alcoholic mother who cheated on her husband.
The Civil Rights era drama may owe much of its success to its timing, however- it isn't threatened by other Oscar-worthy films during the end of August, but will still be considered in the categories for this year.
"'The Butler' is benefiting from a lack of competition because the big summer movies pretty much are played out, so now the calendar is wide open for some more niche titles to try and find an audience," Paul Sweeney, an analyst with Bloomberg Industries, told Bloomberg.com. "I think it'll play well for the next couple of weeks."