Oprah Winfrey can sell anything. If you still did not believe that, believe it now. Her elongated publicity along with genuine positive buzz around Lee Daniels’ The Butler has put the movie atop another crowded weekend in North America. The estimated weekend earnings for the film are at $25 million and when you consider that the production budget was a lowly $30 million, the studios should be earning a good return soon. But what Lee Daniels’ The Butler is also starting off in August is genuine Oscar buzz, already drawing comparisons with 2011’s The Help which was again a story of an African-American domestic worker. Oscar for Forest Whitaker, Oscar for Oprah Winfrey, Oscars for screenplay, director, film, the Oscar related talk is really strong. These are still early days to dig into Academy nominations and as we come closer to the end of the year, many more priceless gems would be unearthed. But the way things have begun for Lee Daniels’ The Butler, not featuring in the nomination lists of a few prestigious award shows would be strange indeed!
Along with Lee Daniels’ The Butler, three more movies had a wide release. Unlike Lee Daniels’ The Butler, none of them is going to be talked about much beyond this week. Kick-Ass 2 had such great potential after its predecessor provided something refreshing, something fun, something that expressed itself with genuineness. Even though Kick-Ass was not a grand box-office story, it deserved a sequel, but it should have been a good one. While I reserve my judgement, having not watched the movie yet, the reviews have not been bright and the box-office figures have definitely not been either. The weekend earning of $13.6 million is lower than the $19.8 million opening of Kick-Ass and this pretty much marks yet another comic book to movie adaptation that has toppled. We’re the Millers is having a gala time at the box-office with only a 33% drop in the second weekend, pushing above Elysium that took the third sport, leaving Kick-Ass 2 to lick its wounds at fourth.
If being fourth at the box-office in your opening weekend would feel bad, how would it be to finish seventh? Especially if you were narrating the story of an enigmatic innovator and leader who would never have accepted even being second? Jobs seems to have turned out to be the kind of movie that didn’t do much to keep Steve Jobs’ memories alive. Ashton Kutcher playing the lead was a big surprise right from the beginning, the question marks justified as Kutcher does not have much box-office power nor is he the one who oozes the personality that would make it easy for him to fit Steve Jobs’ boots. He is more of a comic actor after all! A physical resemblance does not a good biopic make, is a lesson that can be learnt here. And with only $6.7 million earned over the weekend, and limited audience pulled to the theatres, the memory of this Jobs would surely be wiped away soon. Someday maybe, just maybe, a Steve Jobs film would come out showing the man for all that he was, sly and cunning, smart and fearless, doing justice to his work and his life. And on the wrong side of the box-office charts, along with Jobs lies Paranoia, sunk so deep that its $3.5 million weekend earning looks like pennies. Recovering its $40 million production budget is out of question. And it also damages the credentials of Liam Hemsworth, one of many young actors who is trying to break-free from the world of young adult fiction (in this case, The Hunger Games) and is attempting to come across as a serious actor, who can be considered for solo leads. Hemsworth’s time has not yet come, and as for Harrison Ford and Gary Oldman who were to provide the star power for the movie… eh, they can be forgiven and allowed to move on.
Here are the top 5 earners at the US box-office (as per estimates):
1. Lee Daniels’ The Butler ($25.0 million)
2. We’re The Millers ($17.8 million; second weekend)
3. Elysium ($13.6 million; second weekend)
4. Kick-Ass 2 ($13.6 million)
5. Planes ($13.1 million; second weekend)