Lee Daniels' The Butler led the way this weekend with a healthy debut of $24.64 million. The early awards season hopeful from The Weinstein Company had been widely expected to find itself in a close race with Universal's Kick-Ass 2 for first place this weekend, but ultimately had no problem out-pacing the disappointing performance of Kick-Ass 2 in a very big way. Awards season buzz around the performances of Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey, the title controversy surrounding the film and the lack of dramas in the marketplace this summer are all factors that helped The Butler exceed expectations this weekend. The Butler opened 10 percent below the $27.49 million start of 42 earlier this year and is performing far stronger than 2009's Precious, which grossed $47.57 million during its entire run.
The Butler opened with $8.32 million on Friday, increased 12 percent on Saturday to take in $9.29 million and fell 24 percent on Sunday to gross $7.02 million. That gave the film an opening weekend to Friday ratio of 2.96 to 1. Like The Help back in August of 2011, The Butler will hope to hold up very well going forward with aid from both strong word of mouth and from skewing towards older moviegoers. The film's A rating on CinemaScore is an early positive sign going forward.
Speaking of strong word of mouth, Warner's We're the Millers held up very nicely this weekend with $17.96 million. The R-rated comedy starring Jennifer Aniston and Jason Sudeikis was down only 32 percent from last weekend and held steady in second place. We're the Millers has grossed $69.69 million in twelve days, a figure which is made even more impressive by the film's modest price tag for a high profile summer release. We're the Millers is running 6 percent ahead of the $65.84 million twelve-day take of 2008's Tropic Thunder, which means We're the Millers won't have any problem surpassing the $100 million domestic mark.
As mentioned, Kick-Ass 2 was off to a disappointing start this weekend. The superhero sequel starring Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Chloë Grace Moretz and Jim Carrey debuted with $13.33 million, which placed the film in fifth place (behind both Elysium and Planes). That was well below pre-release expectations and was 33 percent softer than the $19.83 million start of 2010's Kick-Ass. While the original film was well liked by its niche audience, a sizable percentage of that audience ultimately wasn't interested in a second helping of the franchise. The one saving grace for Kick-Ass 2 is that with a reported production budget of $28 million, it was inexpensive for a superhero film.
The film's poor early holding power suggests that Kick-Ass 2 will be even more front-loaded than Kick-Ass was. Kick-Ass 2 opened with $5.84 million on Friday (which included an estimated $1.3 million from late night Thursday shows that began at 8 p.m.), fell a sharp 28 percent to gross $4.19 million on Saturday and slid 21 percent on Sunday to take in $3.31 million. That placed the opening weekend to Friday ratio for Kick-Ass 2 at just 2.28 to 1; Kick-Ass had an opening weekend to Friday ratio of 2.59 to 1. Kick-Ass 2 received a B+ rating on CinemaScore.
The weekend's other two wide releases opened to even softer results. Open Road's Jobs took in $6.71 million to place in seventh, while Relativity's Paranoia debuted all the way down in 13th with just $3.53 million. The Ashton Kutcher led Jobs opened on the low end of its modest expectations, while Paranoia (which features Liam Hemsworth, Gary Oldman and Harrison Ford) delivered the smallest opening weekend of 2013 to date for a film debuting in more than 2,000 locations. Jobs opened with $2.61 million on Friday and had an opening weekend to Friday ratio of 2.57 to 1, while Paranoia grossed $1.31 million on Friday and registered an opening weekend to Friday ratio of 2.70 to 1. On top of their soft debuts at the box office, Jobs and Paranoia received respective lackluster B- and C+ ratings on CinemaScore. Both films obviously won't be sticking along for long in theatres.
Sony's Elysium, last weekend's top film, fell two spots and 54 percent to place in third this weekend with $13.69 million. The Neill Blomkamp directed sci-fi film starring Matt Damon and Jodie Foster has grossed $56.00 million through ten days of release. That places Elysium an underwhelming 23 percent behind the $72.80 million ten-day start of 2009's much less expensive District 9 (which fell 51 percent in its second weekend of release to gross $18.21 million).
Disney's Planes landed in fifth with $13.39 million. The DisneyToon Studios produced computer animated spin-off was down 40 percent and one spot from last weekend's debut. Planes has grossed $45.34 million through ten days of release, which is solid given the film's modest price tag for a computer animated film. Planes is flying 60 percent ahead of the $28.26 million ten-day start of last year's ParaNorman (which fell 39 percent to gross $8.64 million during its second weekend of release).
Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters took in $8.75 million to place in sixth. Fox's fantasy sequel was down 39 percent from last weekend. Sea of Monsters has grossed $39.28 million in twelve days of release, placing it a lackluster 35 percent behind the $60.13 million twelve-day start of 2010's Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief. Given the lack of new competition for family audiences in the near future, both Planes and Sea of Monsters will hope to hold up even better starting next weekend.