After a ridiculous controversy regarding the film’s title, as well as early talks of it being an Oscar contender, “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” claimed the number one spot during the Aug. 16-18 weekend. According to Exhibitor Relations, the all-star drama served up $25 million.
“Lee Daniels’ The Butler” was originally known as just “The Butler,” but The Weinstein Company had to change its name due to Warner Bros. not wanting people to confuse it with their 1916 silent short film of the same name. Even though the film is a nearly 100-year-old comedy, and the 2013 film is an historical drama, the studio just wanted to make sure there was no confusion between the two.
The 2013 film, inspired by true events, tells the story of Cecil Gaines (Forest Whitaker), a longtime butler for the White House, who served eight presidents during his tenure, beginning with Harry S. Truman and ending with Ronald Reagan. The film also stars Oprah Winfrey, Robin Williams, Lenny Kravitz, James Marsden, Cuba Gooding Jr., Mariah Carey, and John Cusack.
None of the other new releases came close to taking down Daniels’ film. “Kick-Ass 2” was the second best opening for the new batch, coming in fourth place with $13.5 million. “Jobs,” in which Ashton Kutcher plays Apple founder Steve Jobs, came in sixth with $6.7 million. And the Gary Oldman/Harrison Ford vehicle, “Paranoia,” had the worst opening of them all, earning just $3.5 million in the number 13 spot. It also became the worst opener for a summer release, beating out “Peeples,” which opened with $4.6 million back in May.
Last weekend’s number one film, “Elysium,” took the biggest drop in this weekend’s top ten. The film lost 54 percent of its audience, coming in third place with $13.6 million. Its total is now $55.9 million.
“We’re The Millers” held onto the number two spot for a second weekend in a row, losing just 32 percent of its audience. The raunchy comedy brought in $17.7 million, bringing its total to $69.5 million.
In family films news, “The Smurfs 2” lost over 1,500 theaters in its third weekend of release. The film came in ninth place with $4.6 million, bringing its total to $56.9 million. Disney’s “Planes” came in fifth with $13.1 million, a 41 percent drop from its opening weekend. Its total is now $45 million. “Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters” lost nearly 42 percent of its audience from last weekend, coming in sixth place with $8.3 million. Its total is now $38.9 million.