Box Office Results: Lee Daniels’ The Butler the Definitive Weekend Winner


The Box Office Report has been updated with studio estimates for the weekend. Click here for the full box office estimates of the top 12 films and then check back on Monday for the final figures based on actual box office.

It was another four-movie weekend as we crossed the midpoint of August and got into the slower weekends of the month and only one movie rose against that annual curse to do quite well and that was Lee Daniels’ The Butler (The Weinstein Company), a historical drama with an all-star cast that includes Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey, David Oyelowo, Cuba Gooding Jr., Terrence Howard, Jane Fonda, John Cusack, Mariah Carey, Lenny Kravitz, James Marsden and more. It opened in first place with an estimated $25 million in 2,933 theaters, averaging roughly $8,500 per theater and surpassing most of the pre-weekend projections as it scored a solid A CinemaScore, which bodes well for long legs similar to the 2011 hit The Help.

The Jennifer Aniston-Jason Sudekis R-rated road comedy We’re the Millers (New Line/WB) continued to do well based on opening weekend word-of-mouth, remaining in second place for a second week in a row with $17.8 million, down just 33% from last week, the smallest drop in the Top 10. It has grossed $69.5 million and stands a good chance to cross $100 million by summer’s end.

Third place was a tight race, but according to estimates, it went to Neill Blomkamp’s sci-fi action flick Elysium (Sony), starring Matt Damon and Jodie Foster, which dropped 54% from its first place opening weekend and is just slightly ahead of another new movie with $13.6 million and $55.9 million grossed so far.

Elysium opened in 20 new territories this weekend and added another $22 million overseas to bring its international total to $37.7 million and worldwide total to $93.6 million. It opened in 8 Western European markets including France, Germany, Holland, Belgium and Switzerland, all where it opened better than both Blomkamp’s previous film District 9 and Pacific Rim, according to Sony. It also debuted at #1 in Australia with $3.2 million, 64% better than District 9.

The dark action movie sequel Kick-Ass 2 (Universal), based on the comic books by Mark Millar and John Romita Jr. and starring Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Chloë Grace Moretz, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Jim Carrey, failed to find much of an audience in its opening weekend, bringing in an estimated $13.6 million in 2,940 theaters to take fourth place right behind Elysium, according to estimates. That’s a significantly lower opening than the $19.8 million opening for the original movie about three years ago, following the recent trend of sequels not doing nearly as well as their earlier installments that has pervaded this summer for the most part.

Kick-Ass 2 also opened internationally in 17 territories where it grossed $6.3 million in 1,500 theaters outperforming the original movie in Mexico, Finland, The Philippines and the UK where the movie opened in second place. It also opened in Germany and Hong Kong and will open in France, Belgium and 15 other territories next weekend.

Coming in right behind it with $13.1 million was another release from last week, Disney’s Planes, which has grossed $45.1 million domestic and $7.3 million at the international box office where it opened in 9 territories this weekend.

Last week’s fourth new movie, Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters (20th Century Fox), took sixth place with $8.4 million, bringing its total to $38.9 million, which is only slightly more than the original movie made in its first four days over the Presidents’ Day weekend in 2010.

Ashton Kutcher starred in JOBS (Open Road), as in Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, but despite early interest in the movie, the reviews weren’t good and that kept the movie in the bottom half of the Top 10 with $6.7 million to take seventh place.

The Denzel Washington-Mark Wahlberg crime-comedy team-up 2 Guns followed in eighth place with $5.6 million and $59.2 million since opening earlier this month, while The Smurfs 2 (Sony) added another $4.6 million to bring its own total to $56.9 million.

The Wolverine (20th Century Fox), starring Hugh Jackman, dropped down to tenth place with $4.4 million, having brought in $120.5 million to date domestically.

The August “Dog Days of Summer” hit hard this weekend but no harder than for Paranoia (Relativity Media), based on Joseph Finder’s bestselling novel and starring Liam Hemsworth, Harrison Ford and Gary Oldman, which bombed with just $3.5 million in 2,459 theaters. That wasn’t even enough to get into the Top 10 and the movie which cost $35 million, funded by IM Global / Demarest / Reliance, settled into 13th place, a terrible showing for a movie that sported a big name star like Harrison Ford in a main role. Its C+ CinemaScore is not a good sign that word-of-mouth will be good and it should be gone from theaters completely by September, a pretty big bomb for the relatively recent distributor.

The Top 10 movies grossed approximately $112 million, down $10 million from last year when the all-star action flick The Expendables 2 won the weekend with $28.6 million, the animated ParaNorman took third place with $14 million and Sparkle, Whitney Houston’s final film, took fifth with $11.6 million.

Jershua Hess’ Austenland (Sony Pictures Classics), starring Keri Russell, failed to find much of an audience in its platform release into four theaters in New York and L.A., debuting with $42.6 thousand or roughly $10.7 thousand per venue. No word on whether Sony Classics still plans on expanding the movie nationwide.

Another Sundance premiere, David Lowery’s Ain’t Them Bodies Saints (IFC Films), starring Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara, opened in three theaters in New York and L.A. and didn’t do much better, bringing in $28,000 over the weekend.

Click here for the full box office estimates of the top 12 films.