"We're the Millers" No. 2 as "Kick-Ass 2" starts slowly, "Jobs' is soft and "Paranoia" flops
"Lee Daniels' The Butler" opened to a strong $8.3 million Friday, putting the Forest Whitaker-Oprah Winfrey civil rights saga on pace for a debut weekend in the $25 million range.
That about $5 million over analysts' expectations and makes the Weinstein Company's decision to release the "The Butler" in 2,933 theaters, rather than the gradual platform release favored for most awards hopefuls, look like a good one. Mature and African-American moviegoers were the target audience and it was connecting: its $8,300 per-screen average was well ahead of anything else in the market on Friday.
The presence of Winfrey, making her first big-screen appearance in more than a decade, had to help the PG-13 rated historical drama. She gave the film a huge promotional push, and the well-reviewed "Butler" was a crowd-pleaser. First-night audiences gave it an "A" CinemaScore.
"Kick-Ass 2," which was expected to battle "The Butler" for the top spot at around $20 million, opened to a soft $5.8 million Friday and will likely finish the three days in the $16 million range for Universal.
It received a "B+" CinemaScore, but the R-rated sequel about young self-made superheroes won't match the $19.5 million debut of the 2010 original and looks like it will finish behind holdover "We're the Millers" for the weekend.
The Jennifer Aniston-Jason Sudeikis comedy is on pace to finish No. 2 with a $16 million second weekend after taking in $5.4 million Friday, just a 42 percent fall-off from last week. The R-rated New Line-Warner Bros. comedy has brought in $57 million overall.
The weekend's other two wide-openers – the biopic "Jobs" with Ashton Kutcher and the Liam Hemsworth corporate thriller "Paranoia" – weren't in the mix.
Distributed by Open Road Films, "Jobs" took in $2.6 million Friday and is looking at a three-day total of around $8 million, in line with analysts' low expectations. First-night audiences gave the PG-13 rated biopic of the late Apple Inc. founder a "B-" CinemaScore.
It will probably wind up in seventh for the weekend, behind last week's No. 1 movie "Elysium," which took in $3.9 million Friday and is on pace for a $12.5 million second weekend for Sony, and Disney's "Planes." The animated "Cars" spinoff is looking at an $11 million second week after bringing in $3.6 million Friday.
"Paranoia," distributed by Relativity Media, opened to a weak $1.3 million Friday and will be around $4 million for the weekend. IM Global, Reliance and Demarest Films financed and produced the $35 million thriller.
Audiences gave it just a "C" CinemaScore, so word of mouth won't help and the PG-13-rated thriller may not make the top ten. As of Saturday morning, it was running behind "Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters," "2 Guns" and "The Smurfs 2."
Fox's teen-skewing adventure fantasy is looking at a $7 million second week after taking in $2.3 million Friday. Universal's Denzel Washington-Mark Wahlberg action film will land at around $5 million, while Sony's "Smurfs" sequel should hit $4 million. Both are in their third week.