August 17, 2013

EARLY FRIDAY BOX OFFICE: “The Butler” Serves “Kick-Ass 2″” and The Rest


If preliminary numbers at Deadline hold, what was supposed to be a fairly competitive box office weekend will instead be a romp for THE BUTLER (Weinstein).  It’s claiming a $9M Friday, which should give it at least $25M for the weekend.  That would be in line with the $26M opening for The Help in mid-August 2 years ago (The Help had a bestselling novel to help sell tickets; The Butler has Oprah), and while it’s unlikely that The Butler can scale the $169.7M heights that The Help ended up making in the US, it’s still a great start for a project whose risky nature scared off many studios and investors.

The risk of green-lighting a sequel to Kick-Ass is looking less likely to pay off, as KICK-ASS 2 (Universal) had only a $5.5M Friday (that includes $1.2M from Thursday night screenings), and since it may very well be front-loaded with a fanbase crowd, the weekend may not even reach $15M, as compared to $19.8M for the debut of the first Kick-Ass.  That movie only made $48.1M in US theaters, but turned a profit in homevideo–however, the homevideo market has cratered since 2010, so it’s going to be a tough slog for the sequel to hit breakeven, despite its moderate budget and limited marketing campaign.

After that, the abyss.  Steve Jobs would not have been proud to have his name on JOBS (Open Road), with only $2.4M on Friday and a likely $6-7M weekend.  Even with a low budget, that’s looking more like the Lisa than the iPhone.  But it’s still better than PARANOIA (Relativity), a complete disaster with just $1.3M on Friday and perhaps $3.5M for the weekend on a production cost of $40M (although Relativity, which only has US rights to the film, didn’t cover all of that).

WE’RE THE MILLERS (Warners) is leading the holdovers, with ELYSIUM (TriStar/Sony) and PLANES (Disney) behind.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."