B.O. Roundup, August 16-18: 'Lee Daniels' The Butler' Cleans Up

Sunday, 18 August 2013 10:21 Written by  iamrogue
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B.O. Roundup, August 16-18: 'Lee Daniels' The Butler' Cleans Up

Oprah Winfrey can turn an obscure novel into a bestseller just by slapping a sticker on it.  So it makes sense that her first film appearance in some fifteen years helped propel Lee Daniels' The Butler to the number one spot at the domestic box office.

Kick-Ass 2, which many prognosticators expected would emerge atop the box office heap this weekend, debuted in fourth place.

To be fair, Lee Daniels' The Butler doesn't feature Winfrey as its central figure.  That would be Forest Whitaker as Cecil Gaines, a real-life White House employee who worked with eight U.S. presidents.  The number one reason audiences turned up for The Butler, according to exit polls, was its subject matter, the strength of which earned the film an estimated $25.0 million from 2,933 locations.

The second reason audiences turned up, though, was Winfrey.  As you might expect, crowds for The Butler skewed older and towards females, at 76% over the age of 35 and 60% ladies.  Winfrey's first film role since Beloved in 1998 doubtless boosted The Butler, but the film was also the best-reviewed wide release this weekend.  And the rest of the cast certainly didn't hurt.  In addition to Whitaker and Winfrey, director Daniels put together a group that includes Alan Rickman, Mariah CareyJohn CusackJane FondaCuba Gooding Jr.Terrence Howard, Liev Schreiber, Vanessa Redgrave, Lenny KravitzMelissa LeoJames Marsden, and Robin Williams.

The film ought to hold up well in the coming weeks, especially considering that audiences gave the film an average CinemaScore of A.

On the way into the weekend, most predictions had The Butler duking it out with Kick-Ass 2 for box office supremacy.  That's not how things shook out, however, as the comic book sequel opened in fourth place, behind holdovers We're the Millers and Elysium, which debuted in second and first place, respectively, a week ago.  According to estimates, Kick-Ass 2 pulled in $13.5 million from 2,940 locations.

That's about $10 million under projections for the film, which once again finds Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Chloe Grace Moretz pummeling their way through a foul-mouthed, giddily violent superhero adventure.  In 2010, director Matthew Vaughn's Kick-Ass opened to $19.6 million and went on to gross $96.2 million worldwide.  The sequel, written and directed by Jeff Wadlow, was produced more cheaply, but isn't benefiting from the first movie's largely solid reviews and ecstatic online discussion.  This time, there's a certain sense of costumed hero fatigue among moviegoers.

Jobs, the Steve Jobs hagiography starring Ashton Kutcher as the Apple co-founder, meanwhile, debuted in seventh place.  The biopic earned an estimated $6.7 million from 2,381 locations.  The film, directed by Joshua Michael Stern, faced something of an uphill battle with audiences, from the casting of its central figure to its worshipful tone, and it received no help from critics.

Here are the top ten movies in domestic release for the weekend of August 16th through 18th:

1. Lee Daniels' The Butler                                     $25.0 million               New Release

2. We're the Millers                                                $17.7 million              $69.5 million

3. Elysium                                                               $13.6 million              $55.9 million

4. Kick-Ass 2                                                           $13.5 million              New Release

5. Planes                                                                  $13.1 million              $45.0 million

6. Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters                      $8.3 million               $38.9 million

7. Jobs                                                                    $6.7 million               New Release

8. 2 Guns                                                                $5.5 million               $59.2 million

9. The Smurfs 2                                                      $4.6 million               $56.9 million

10. The Wolverine                                                  $4.4 million               $120.4 million

This Wednesday, young adult adaptation and hopeful franchise-starter The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones hits theaters, followed by Cornetto Trilogy-capped The World's End and home invasion thriller You're Next on Friday.

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