Last weekend, a hard-working White House worker was able to fend off a group of costumed vigilante teenagers while swiftly dispatching Ashton Kutcher and Liam Hemsworth at the same time. Box-office bombs "Jobs" and "Paranoia" didn't stand a chance against "Lee Daniels' The Butler," which manhandled "Kick-Ass 2" on the way to its $25 million weekend debut.
Forest Whitaker's historical drama may very well dominate moviegoer wallets for a second weekend, even against competition from young adult series adaptation "The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones" and Edgar Wright's "The World's End." Bloody slasher flick "You're Next," with its ubiquitous and mysterious marketing campaign, could provide the strongest challenge to "The Butler."
Purchased by Lionsgate after its debut at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival, "You're Next" is one of those small-budget horror flicks assured to deliver a healthy return. It has also benefited from a number of positive reviews, which certainly isn't always the case for the genre.
Industry projections differed more than usual amongst different outlets leading into the weekend, with the numbers for "The Butler" projected anywhere from $12 million to $16 million and "You're Next" estimates between $11 million and $14 million.
There are more than 24 million copies of the five different "Mortal Instruments" books out there, but it may turn out that the $60 million film adaptation based on the young adult series won't drum up sufficient interest to justify the already-announced second movie. Critics decimated "The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones," resulting in a lowly 14 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes. It collected a reported $3 million on Wednesday, with Sony predicting a $15 million five-day total through Sunday. "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World" and future "Ant-Man" director Edgar Wright will likely see the same $8 million to $10 million weekend for "The World's End."
Moviegoers last saw "The World's End" star Simon Pegg in "Star Trek Into Darkness," which opened in May to the tune of $70 million. Whether Wright casts his old buddy Pegg as his lead in "Ant-Man" remains to be seen, but "The World's End" ties a nice (and very well reviewed) bow onto the British-humor infused "Cornetto" trilogy begun with genre love letter "Shaun of the Dead" in 2004. "Hot Fuzz," which treated the buddy action genre with the same degree of reverence and referential fun that "Shaun" exhibited toward zombie flicks, followed in 2007. Neither film made truckloads of money, but both were inexpensive to produce.
"Lee Daniels' The Butler" won't be the only holdover to do decent business. "We're the Millers" will most likely stay in the Top 5 during its third weekend of release. The R-rated comedy has already earned $87 million around the world against an estimated $37 million budget. There's also Woody Allen's possible Oscar contender "Blue Jasmine," which will expand to over 1200 theaters this weekend.