Lee Daniels‘ The Butler is serving up success at the box office as # 1.
Starring Forest Whitaker as a longtime White House butler and Oprah Winfrey as his boozy wife, the Weinstein Co. biopic debuted in the top spot with $25 million, according to studio estimates Sunday. But the weekend’s three other major new releases, including the action romp “Kick-Ass 2,” failed to find traction with fans.
Total movie going this weekend was only around $160 million, or -6% from last year, despite the uber-crowded marketplace. Even the surprise #1 this weekend, The Weinstein Company’s Lee Daniels ’ The Butler, opened with $25 million which was down from the $30+M Hollywood projected when the weekend started. ”Everything is coming in softer,” one studio exec warned me Friday night.
Love her or hate her, co-star Oprah Winfrey and her big media blitz helped open the pic even if it did little to help her public image by providing more dirt for her detractors. Yet a survey by Fandango found that 72% of Butler ticket-buyers claimed Oprah’s involvement increased their interest in seeing the film which was her first movie role in 15 years.
Apart from Winfrey’s unmatched marketing power, “The Butler” also marked the mogul’s return to the big screen for the first time since 1998’s “Beloved.”
“She was a significant factor” in the film’s success this weekend, Lomis said. “Her publicity machine really kicked into high gear, and the entire cast, Lee Daniels and Forest Whitaker, they delivered a quality film and a great campaign.”
The summer typically belongs to superheroes and big-action fare, which is why Weinstein chose to release “The Butler” now.
Who seen The Butler this weekend?