Lee Daniels’ The Butler shot to the top of the US box office on its opening weekend, grossing $25 million, nearly covering its production cost, which was less than $30 million. The star-studded drama follows a black White House Butler, who served 8 US presidents, as the African-Americans people journeyed from servitude in the 1940’s to social equality in the 1960’s and ultimately to the presidency of the US in 2008.
Some experts have already attributed the film’s box office success to its biggest star, Oprah Winfrey, who plays the butler’s wife. No one doubts Oprah’s prodigious public appeal, but The Butler is not the first race-themed movie to garner such commercial success. Just a few months ago, Jackie Robinson biopic 42 beat other high-budget blockbusters to the top of the US box office, and two years ago, the 60’s black maids drama, The Help, triumphed commercially and critically.
The Jennifer Aniston and Jason Sudeikis comedy, We’re The Millers, continued to hold on to the second spot with an impressive $17.8 million over the weekend, to reach a total gross of $69.5 million after only 12 days of release.
Actioner Kick-Ass 2 fell short of its predecessor’s nearly $20 million opening in 2010, debuting to only $13.6 million and settling in the third place. Made for $28 million, the sequel features Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Chloe Grace Moretz and Jim Carey, who refused to promote the movie due to its violent nature.
Tying with Kick-Ass 2, last weekend’s box office champion Elysium pushed its Stateside 10-day gross to $56 million. The $130 million sci-fi actioner added a further $20 million overseas, where it topped the box office, bringing its global total to $93.6 million.
Last weekend’s surprise success, animated picture Planes, continued to shine, drawing an extra $13.1 million to rank number 5 at the US box office and reach a total gross of $45.1 million.
The weekend also delivered two more summer flops. Steve Jobs’ biopic, Jobs, starring Ashton Kutcher, bowed to only $6.7 million and thriller Paranoia, starring Harrison Ford, Gary Oldman, Liam Hemsworth and Amber Heard, did even worse, opening to a paltry $3.5 million.
The top-four list in the international box office was filled by US box office disappointments. Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters took the second spot behind Elysium with $21.8 million, followed by Pacific Rim and The Smurfs 2, both adding a $20 million to their coffers, reaching a global total of $384 million and $206.9 million respectively.