Weekend Wrap Up: “The Butler” Serves up an Upset

Coming into this weekend, it seemed like it would be a two-movie battle, with Kick-Ass 2 as the front-runner and The Butler as the underdog with a shot at the title. Nobody expected Jobs or Paranoia to do much of anything, and as predicted, they didn’t. However, the number one film ended up winning in a landslide as the more hyped project ended up outright failing.

The Butler

Forest Whitaker and an all-star cast carried The Butler to a potent $25 million debut. This is well above expectations, most of which seemed to peg the film in the high teens. Reviews were good and The Butler may have tapped into the same audience that helped make another August film about race relations, The Help, a surprising success. I expect The Butler to have good word of mouth that will carry it into Labor Day Weekend and beyond; $100 million is a very real possibility.

After failing to capture first, Kick-Ass 2 couldn’t take second, or even third, place either. Instead, We’re the Millers posted a good hold, dropping 33% to $17.8 million, which lifts its total to $69 million. Despite poor reviews, the film seems to have caught on with audiences, and $100 million is definitely possible. Last week’s champ, Elysium, got hit hard, falling 54% to $13.6 million. It has just under $60 million now and might finish around $85 million.

Finally, in fourth, we have Kick-Ass 2, which can all but officially be declared a flop. It opened to just $13.6 million, about six million dollars short of the first Kick-Ass from three and a half years ago. I’m still confused as to why this sequel was made, considering its predecessor wasn’t a huge success. The good news is that the budget is only $30 million, so when adding in foreign grosses, KA2 might break even for the studio. I’m going to see the film later tonight (its awful reviews be damned; I loved the first Kick-Ass, so I’m willing to take a risk on this one), and I’ll post a review later this week.

Fifth goes to Planes, which dropped 41% to $13.1 million. $45 million total isn’t bad for a movie that deserved to be direct-to-video. Percy Jackson fell 41% from its disappointing debut, grossed $8.4 million this weekend, which lifts its total to just $38.9 million. Debuting down in seventh, Jobs managed just $6.7 million. No one expected this to do good numbers, but even still that’s kind of disappointing. On the plus side, the budget was only $12 million, so the studio won’t lose much, if any, money on this one.

In its third weekend, 2 Guns dropped 50% to $5.6 million. That puts the gross for the action flick at $59 million, which about matches its budget. Finishing around $72 million seems likely. The Smurfs 2 spent what I hope is its last weekend in the top ten, as it dipped 51% to $4.6 million. The $57 million total might just be bad enough to convince Sony to rethink making The Smurfs 3, which is currently scheduled for July 2015.

The Wolverine brings the top ten to a close. Logan dropped 45% and pulled in $4.4 million. It has $120 million in the bank, which matches its budget, but it’s doing very well overseas and will have no problem turning a profit. Finally, I feel I should mention Paranoia, one of the biggest disasters of the year, in every since of the word. With an unimaginably awful four percent (that’s worse than Grown Ups 2) at Rotten Tomatoes, the Liam Hemsworth “thriller” debuted in 13th and grossed just $3.5 million.

Another packed weekend at the box office, filled mostly with failures, but saved by the strong debut of The Butler. After two consecutive weekends of four movies opening, things slow a little bit next weekend, with three newcomers, none of which I think has any breakout potential. There’s a very strong chance The Butler wins next weekend, but as always, the box office can surprise you, so we’ll just see next Sunday. Until we meet again.

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