LOS ANGELES – US civil rights epic “Lee Daniels’ The Butler,” which is generating serious Oscar buzz, topped the North American box office for a second straight week, industry estimates showed Sunday.
The drama, based on the real-life story of an African American butler who witnessed decades of US history from within the White House walls, earned $17 million, industry tracker Exhibitor Relations said.
Critics have hailed the performances of Forest Whitaker in the title role and Oprah Winfrey as his wife, giving the actors a leg up in the early race to the Academy Awards.
“We’re the Millers,” a dark comedy about pot-smuggling starring Jennifer Aniston as a stripper, moved up from third to second place with $13.5 million in ticket sales.
“The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones,” a teen-romance demon thriller about a girl who discovers dark secrets from her family’s past, debuted in third place at $9.3 million.
Another debut film, action disaster comedy “The World’s End,” opened in fourth place with $8.9 million in sales.
The newcomer pushed animated film “Planes,” a spin-off of the hugely successful “Cars” franchise, into fifth place at $8.6 million, just ahead of science-fiction thriller “Elysium,” which dropped to sixth place at $7.1 million.
“You’re Next,” a horror flick about a family weekend gone awry, opened in seventh place with $7.05 million.
“Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters,” an adaptation based on the book series by Rick Riordan about a schoolboy who is the son of the Greek god of the sea, Poseidon, made $5.2 million, dropping to eighth place from sixth last week.
Woody Allen’s acclaimed drama “Blue Jasmine,” which stars Cate Blanchett and Alec Baldwin, earned $4.3 million, weighing in at ninth.
Superhero action comedy sequel “Kick-Ass 2″ rounded out the top 10 with $4.27 million.
Final figures are expected out Monday.