'Butler' may be helping itself to a long summer run
05:00 AM, Aug 19, 2013
Lee Daniels’ The Butler surprised analysts this weekend by taking a commanding win at the box office, defeating a raft of new movies, including the much-hyped superhero film Kick-Ass 2.
While Butler is just getting out of the gates, analysts are drawing comparisons to 2011’s The Help, a civil rights-themed film that would rake in $170 million and claim a best-supporting-actress Oscar for Octavia Spencer. That film opened at No. 2 in August, but would storm back to become the No. 1 film for three straight weekends.
“Just as The Help competed strongly with Rise of the Planet of the Apes and destroyed Conan the Barbarian,” Butler has proven effective summer counter-programming, says John Hamann, analyst for Boxofficeprophets.com.
Like Help, he says, Butler has a strong cast in Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey that could give the film similar legs through Labor Day. The movie, he says, has “the pedigree to be successful.”
Here’s a quick comparison of the movies:
Opening date: Aug. 12, 2011
Budget: $25 million
Stars: Octavia Spencer, Viola Davis, Bryce Dallas Howard
Director: Tate Taylor
Critical response: 77% approval (Rottentomatoes.com)
Opening weekend: $26 million
Overall gross: $169.7 million
Lee Daniels’ The Butler
Opening date: Aug. 16
Budget: $30 million
Stars: Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey, Jane Fonda
Director: Lee Daniels
Studio: The Weinstein Co.
Critical response: 72% approval
Opening weekend: $25 million (estimate)
Overall gross: TBD