THE BUTLER

With cinema hitting the mid-point of August, you can really feel things winding down so everyone can catch a breath. Even though this week offers an Oscar hopeful and a comic-book sequel, neither is going to break $30 Million, and — though there are some good films between now and then — the box office isn’t going to pick up again until October.

The first Kick-Ass opened to around $20 Million, so it’s likely that Kick-Ass 2 will as well. But where the first film got mixed-to-positive notices, this film has been beaten up by the press. Jim Carrey walked away from publicizing the film, and there doesn’t seem to be a groundswell of interest. It should do peak business on Friday –  especially as an R-rated movie — and seems likely to do around $20 Million, but if this one surprises, it’ll be by doing less.

Lee Daniels’ The Butler is more likely to surprise. As is now more often the case, there’s a paucity of roles and films targeted at the African-American community, and though performers like Idris Elba, Don Cheadle and Zoe Saldana had supporting parts in films this summer, there aren’t a lot of leading man roles from people of color in comic book movies. You can name check Will Smith in After Earth and we did just have Denzel Washington in the already forgotten 2 Guns, but still. The Butler has a similar release date as The Help, and though it deals with racism in a less fun way, it could appeal to that audience. If it does, Oscar attention is guaranteed. If it doesn’t, it will probably do in the $60-$70 million range and die. But if anything surprises this weekend, it’s this.

Jobs premiered at Sundance, and though Ashton Kutcher may give a career best performance, that’s not enough to get the masses. By the way, did you know Paranoia is coming out this week and it stars Harrison Ford and Gary Oldman and a Hemsworth? It’s true.

So, numbers:

  1. Lee Daniels’ The Butler - $22.5 Million
  2. Kick-Ass 2 – $17.7 Million
  3. We’re the Millers – $15.7 Million
  4. Elysium – $14 Million
  5. Planes – $13.3 Million

I’m going high on Butler and low on Kick-Ass for a reason, though both could be closer together, and/or switch positions. Audiences have shown that they’re tired of movies like Kick-Ass, and we’ve been seeing R-rated action for the last couple of weeks so there’s no surprises there, whereas The Butler is playing to an audience that hasn’t had a movie aimed at them for weeks. The ceiling for Kick-Ass 2 is set, where there isn’t one for The Butler.

What are you going to watch this weekend?