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The Butler

“Lee Daniels’ The Butler” Serves Up Box Office Victory

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Box office success arrived for one of the year’s early potential Oscar-award contenders, “The Butler” from The Weinstein Company. Directed by Lee Daniels (“Precious”) and starring an all-star cast including Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey, the film won the domestic box office for the weekend ending August 18 with an estimated $25.01 million (according to data from the Rentrak Corporation). With heavy promotion that former syndicated talk show host Oprah Winfrey had provided for it, “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” — earning similar opening numbers to 2011’s “The Help” ($26 million) — has already grossed more than half of the total domestic gross of Daniels’ previously most notable film, 2009’s “Precious” ($47.57 million) and has surpassed the entire domestic total for Winfrey’s oft-promoted 1998 film, “Beloved” ($22.85 million). Whitaker had also gained Oscar buzz earlier this summer producing the indie flick, “Fruitvale Station.”

For the second consecutive weekend, the Warner Bros. comedy “We’re the Millers” was runner-up, dropping only 33 percent from its opening weekend to $17.78 million, assuring its successful run and potential to soon cross the $100-million threshold.

Last weekend’s box office champ, Sony/TriStar’s “Elysium” dropped 54 percent to third place with $13.6 million.

Opening to a disappointing fourth place was the Universal sequel to the 2010 modest hit original, “Kick-Ass 2.” The film earned only an estimated $13.57 million, about a third less than the $19.83 million its original film opened with in April 16-18, 2010.

Rounding out the weekend’s top five was the Disney/Pixar “Cars”-like flick, “Planes” with $13.14 million.

Open Road Films’ biopic on the late Steve Jobs entitled “Jobs,” flopped in seventh place with a paltry $6.7 million. This was “Jobs” star Ashton Kutcher’s second-lowest opening weekend for a widely-released film ever and his lowest since 2003’s “My Boss’ Daughter” ($4.86 million). Based on reviews, Kutcher will most certainly attain Razzie buzz (for Worst Actor) once again.

Even more disappointing in wide release was Relativity’s “Paranoia” grossing just $3.5 million and placing thirteenth. The film stars Miley Cyrus’ supposed fiancé Liam Hemsworth, Gary Oldman and a buzzed-cut Harrison Ford. While Ford has had a long, stellar career at the box office, including “42,” the Jackie Robinson biopic for Warner Bros. from earlier this year, “Paranoia” marks the worst opening for a Ford wide release in his career.

Sony Pictures Classics’ “Blue Jasmine” continues to trek towards Woody Allen’s most successful box office performer, 2011’s “Midnight in Paris,” increasing 1 percent from last weekend to earn $2.36 million from 229 locations. The Woody Allen comedy’s per-theater average was an impressive $10,301 — the best average for any film this past weekend released in at least 229 theaters. Since its release four weekends ago, the film has grossed a total of $9.49 million, to-date.

Arriving in the theaters next week through to the weekend ending August 25 — will be Sony/Screen Gems’ “The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones” (opening Aug. 21), the Simon Pegg-comedy “The World’s End” from Focus, and the Lionsgate horror flick, “You’re Next.”

The top-12 domestic weekend box office estimates listed in descending order, per data collected as of Sunday, August 18, 2013 is available as follows (if available, the associated grades were obtained for each film’s respective opening weekend from audiences nationwide by CinemaScore):

1 Lee Daniels’ The Butler (The Weinstein Co.) $25.01M 2,933 $8,527 1 $25.01M A
2 We’re the Millers (Warner Bros.) $17.78M $26.42M -32.7 3,325 $5,347 2 $69.51M A-
3 Elysium (Sony/TriStar) $13.60M $29.81M -54.4 3,284 $4,141 2 $55.91M B
4 Kick-Ass 2 (Universal) $13.57M 2,940 $4,615 1 $13.57M B+
5 Planes (Disney/Pixar) $13.14M $22.23M -40.9 3,716 $3,536 2 $45.09M A-
6 Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters (Fox) $8.38M $14.40M -41.8 3,080 $2,719 2 $38.90M B+
7 Jobs (Open Road) $6.70M 2,381 $2,814 1 $6.70M B-
8 2 Guns (Universal) $5.57M $11.25M -50.5 2,471 $2,255 3 $59.22M B+
9 The Smurfs 2 (Sony) $4.60M $9.33M -50.7 2,349 $1,958 3 $56.91M A-
10 The Wolverine (Fox/Marvel) $4.43M $8.02M -44.9 2,058 $2,150 4 $120.46M A-
11 The Conjuring (Warner Bros.) $3.91M $6.63M -41.0 2,001 $1,954 5 $127.86M A-
12 Despicable Me 2 (Universal) $3.78M $5.92M -36.1 1,818 $2,080 7 $345.99M A

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Written by SonOfTheBronx

Douglas Pucci (a.k.a. “Son of the Bronx”) is a frequent contributor to TV Media Insights, hosting the site forum’s many companion games about TV and writing reviews of various shows. A Bronx native, NYU graduate and once-intern for VH1’s “Pop Up Video,” Pucci also went on to design, build and maintain websites for various non-profit organizations in his hometown of New York City.

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