The Butler Kicks Ass and Avoids Paranoia at the Box Office

Scott looks at what turned out to be a pretty dismal weekend at the box office for 3 of the new releases, but a great sign for those wanting more mature and adult pictures get wide release with one film doing well.


Going into this past weekend, it was considered a toss-up as to who would come first in the box office between Lee Daniels' The Butler and Kick-Ass 2.  I sided with the R rated action comedy about amateur super heroes being number one, but I was extremely happy when The Butler kicked its ass.  I harbour no ill will towards the sequel to the 2010 Kick-Ass starring Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Chloe Grace Moretz as the original is one of the most fun movies I have seen in years.  The reason why I was happy is because it should show studio executives in Hollywood that mature, well thought out content should not be forgotten or ignored in the age of the CGI blockbuster.  Sure, The Butler will not be packing out theatres in China, but there is enough proof in the past that quality dramas can sustain well in the box office and also do fairly well in foreign markets.  Lee Daniel’s The Butler was able to make almost $25 million in its debuting weekend, and the reason could very well be because there has been so much shallow action this summer that has left audiences craving for something of substance.  The critical reception seems to not be as strong as it was pre-release, so it will be interesting to see if this movie is remembered at Oscar nomination time, as it was considered a contender.

The aforementioned Kick-Ass 2 ended up finishing the weekend in the number five spot, which is quite a disappointment when we remember this movie was supposed to rival The Butler in ticket sales.  The response to the movie was very front heavy, with it dropping from Friday to Saturday.  It was a dismal sign for the teenage super hero movie when the weekend projections dropped continually over the course of the weekend.  At the end of three days, it made $13 million on a modest budget of $28 million and was lucky enough to not be remembered as the biggest disappointment of the weekend.

Landing in seventh spot in the box office was Jobs, a biopic about the career and life of innovator Steve Jobs starring Ashton Kutcher in the lead role.  While it ended up being a bit of a disappointment when compared to projections, it as well is lucky enough to not be considered the disappointment of the week.  Yep, there is a theme of disappointment this week.  Jobs made $6.7 million on a budget of $18, and I found a lot of projections and predictions that had it lined up for getting at least in the double digit millions.  The performance may be best blamed on low critical reception and very little consumer buzz around the movie.  Perhaps it was too soon, or perhaps it was a story that the greater audience would never really dive into.

And now we have Paranoia, the official disappointment of the week.  I really do not like this theme of negativity in this write up, but wow… it really is what I have to work with.  There have been some flops this summer, but not really a weekend with four new releases and only one of them having a truly encouraging experience.  Last weekend had four new movies as well, and they all finished in the top four.  Great for them, but bad for the follow up weekend who not only had to compete with other newcomers, but also had the previous weekend’s four in such recent memory.  It is a case of too much in a short period of time.  This upcoming weekend will bring three more movies, so we are left guessing what will happen to their grosses in this busy market place.  Theatres are busy shuffling movies around and trying to make sense of what will be the most profitable.

I suppose I should get back to Paranoia, a thriller starring Liam Hemsworth, Harrison Ford and Gary Oldman.  I thought I was being a bit doom and gloom when I said in my prediction of the movie that it should be able to at least make the top ten.  It did not.  It failed.  It had a budget of $40 million, it had names such as Ford and Oldman, and it was only able to squeak out $3.5 million.  It is fair to say that Paranoia will not be meeting its budget.  This could serve to be a big problem for still new studio Relativity, as it is not its first huge bomb of the year.  Back in the winter it released Movie 43, which people cannot seem to reference without disdain or mockery.

Enough for now about the negativity.  The Butler should be showing in a few more theatres this upcoming weekend, so focus on that if you are interested in a movie with meat on the bones.  As I had mentioned, there are three more movies primed to debut and two of the movies are currently sitting at over 90% on Rotten Tomatoes (although the sample size for one of the movies is still fairly low).  This could mean some interesting new entries to remind us that good stories can still be told and that everyone has a bad weekend from time to time, even Hollywood.