Marking a victory for Lee Daniels and his high-profile cast, The Butler won the Friday box office with an estimated $8.3 million as it raced ahead of three other new films -- Kick-Ass 2, Jobs and corporate thriller Paranoia.
The Weinstein Co.'s The Butler, returning Oprah to the big screen after a lengthy absence, is headed for a $24 million-plus weekend after nabbing stellar reviews and an A CinemaScore. The movie tells the true story of Eugene Allen (Forest Whitaker), a butler who served in the White House through eight presidential administrations. Oprah plays Allen's wife.
Oprah has thrown her marketing weight behind The Butler, which is already considered an early awards contender.
Heading into the weekend, most thought Universal's Kick-Ass 2 would win the weekend with a $20 million-plus debut because of younger fanboy moviegoers. The sequel, however, is lagging, grossing an estimated $5.8 million on Friday for a projected $15 million-plus weekend. That could put it No. 3 behind The Butler and We're the Millers.
Kick-Ass 2, starring Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Chloe Grace Moretz and Jim Carrey, won't match the success of the original Kick-Ass, which debuted to just under $40 million in spring 2010. The sequel, rebuffed by most critics, received a B+ CinemaScore.
Jobs, the independently produced Steve Jobs biopic starring Ashton Kutcher, and the corporate thriller Paranoia are faring even worse.
Made for under $15 million, Jobs took in an estimated $2.6 million on Friday for a projected $7.5 million to $8 million weekend, putting it at No. 6 or No. 7. The Open Road release was produced and financed by Five Star Films, with Endgame Entertainment partnering on the marketing. Jobs' performance is likely hurt by dismal reviews and a B- CinemaScore (Sony and Aaron Sorkin have their own Steve Jobs film in the works).
Trailing even farther behind is Robert Luketic's $35 million film Paranoia, starring Liam Hemsworth, Gary Oldman and Harrison Ford. The title was produced and financed by IM Global and Demarest Films.
Paranoia, receiving a C+ CinemaScore, grossed an estimated $1.3 million on Friday and may only earn $4 million, putting it outside the top 10 at No. 11.