Can somebody please photoshop an image of Forrest Whitaker in Butler garb punching Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s Kick-Ass in the face, because I could use that. This weekend really served as something of a refresher in terms of good taste, though I can admittedly think of a dozen films that tackle the civil rights movement better than Lee Daniels’ The Butler does. It’s still a reassuring gesture that maybe audiences finally want something other than the careless feats of violence that often do better in the summer environment. We’re certainly seeing that transition to the fall season settling in, with more historical dramas pulling audiences than the disposable summer popcorn flicks.
It’s hard not to look at The Butler as some kind of long awaited relief, particularly in a climate that’s been dominated by massive blockbusters as of late. As such it shouldn’t be surprising that the film is playing strong across the board, the favorable critical response fueling the interest in it. A solid “A” CinemaScore is reason enough to believe Lee Daniels’ latest will have staying power during the late August/early September cinematic drought. Its $25 million opening comes just a million below The Help‘s similar performance two years ago. May the Oscar stars align in a similar manner for The Butler? We’ll have to wait and see if this civil rights drama sparks as fervent a following as that Viola Davis starring standout.
Three of this weekend’s wide releases positively failed at the box office, the most surprising of which being this sequel to 2010’s cult classic Kick-Ass. In all honesty, it may have to revoke that cult classic title, since most movies that become cult legends do not get retread sequels. How did this fail, exactly? It probably had something to do with its gratuitous Hard-R nature, Jim Carrey’s public denouncement of its post-Sandy Hook morals, but most likely the fact that the first film didn’t do so well in the first place. Kick-Ass opened to $19.8 million and finished at $48 million, whereas Kick-Ass 2 has only opened with $13.6 million, likely en route to less than $30 million. If this will send any message to studios, it’s not to greenlight sequels merely on the basis of die-hard fan demand.
As a movie, jOBS just makes me sad. It’s one thing to toss your made-too-soon biopic around at Sundance, but its wide release reveals it even more as a manipulative attempt to capitalize off an American icon who hasn’t been in the grave for very long. The film opened to just $6.7 million, though it should be stated that’s more than Ed Wood grossed during the entirety of its 1994 run. In short, studio culture continues to painfully confuse me.
This is odd. It say everywhere that Paranoia went into reasonably wide release, but looking at the box office charts, it just doesn’t seem present. Maybe this Liam Hemsworth vehicle simply opened to a mediocre $3.5 million and therefore didn’t blip on the radar. That’s one possibility, but I’d like to think that this movie ultimately just never existed. Given we’ve hardly seen it anywhere or taken much interest in it, that’s probably the answer.
Box Office History
This is the frame where one film usually has great prosperity while the other three releases drift below water or otherwise drown entirely. Last year seems a prime example, when The Expendables 2 cleaned up house similarly to how the first film did, opening with $28.9 million and ending at $85 million. You’d think that decreased revenue from the first outing wouldn’t be enough to greenlight a threequel, but we’re getting one anyway next year. On the lowest end of that spectrum was The Odd Life of Timothy Green, whose honestly creep premise kept it at a $10.8 million opening, still going on to a $51.9 million total.
In the middle ground between those were two films that opened modestly, but went on to far separate totals. ParaNorman became something of a crowd favorite throughout the season, starting out at $14.1 million and ending at $56 million. In spite that smallish performance, it had a staying power that earned an Oscar nod that may or may not have come close to winning. Things weren’t so fortunate for Sparkle, the musically attuned drama that even had the weight of Whitney Houston’s last performance supporting it. It seems that didn’t fuel it enough, opening to $11.6 before going on to just $24.4 million. It broke even, but only just. Shame the Expendables and Timothy Green crowd couldn’t have funneled into this more passionate picture.
Wind us another year back and it gets even worse. The only film to release above $10 million then was Spy Kids: All the Time in the World at $11.6 million. How it went on to $38.5 million perplexes and disturbs me. Just beneath it was Conan the Barbarian at just barely $10 million, finishing with $21.3 million, a good $70 million below its production budget. The smaller pickings of the weekend were dispersed between Fright Night, whose $7.7 million opening led it to a mediocre $18.3 million, and One Day, which had a weird negative buzz about Anne Hathaway’s British accent that stunted it to a $5.1 million opening. Still, its small budget made it easier for the film to earn its weight back internationally.
Box Office Top 10 – August 16-18, 2013
Results via BoxOffice.com
1. Lee Daniels’ The Butler (1st Weekend: $25 million)
2. We’re the Millers (2nd Weekend: $17.8 million; Total: $69.5 million)
3. Elysium (2nd Weekend: $13.6 million; Total: $55.9 million)
4. Kick-Ass 2 (1st Weekend: $13.6 million)
5. Planes (2nd Weekend: $13.1 million; Total: $45.1 million)
6. Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters (2nd Weekend: $8.4 million; Total: $38.9 million)
7. Jobs (1st Weekend: $6.7 million)
8. 2 Guns (3rd Weekend: $5.6 million; Total: $59.3 million)
9. The Smurfs 2 (3rd Weekend: $4.6 million; Total: $56.9 million)
10. The Wolverine (4th Weekend: $4.4 million; Total: $120.5 million)