Movie Monday: The Butler


 It’s not often that butlers get much notice. It’s part of the job, really, to be unobtrusive. Invisible. A room or office, Cecil Gaines tells us in The Butler, should feel “empty when I’m in it.”

Unless, of course, that office is the box office. And the butler in question is headlining a major motion picture.

Lee Daniels’ The Butler drew some attention to itself this weekend, politely elbowing its way to the top of the weekend grosses and polishing an estimated $25 million—a dandy showing for the kind of drama that in the CGI-addled summertime movie season typically must sneak through the back door.

Not that The Butler had much competition from any newcomers. Its closest competition, in fact, came from a pair of holdovers: We’re the Millers lost just a third of its audience and held tight to second place with $17.8 million, while last week’s champ Elysium slipped to third with $13.6 mil.

In fact, The Butler’s closest new combatant, Kick-A‑‑ 2, had its own keister kicked at the box office. The scurvy pseudo-superhero flick also earned around $13.6 million (studio estimates have it finishing just behind holdover Elysium)—a dismal debut for this failing franchise. The original flick made $19.8 million in its opening week in 2010, which at the time was also considered rather underwhelming. Undeterred, a sequel was spun and did even worse. If anyone greenlights a Kick-A‑‑ 3, there may be cause for an intervention.

But even so, Kick-A‑‑ 2 still edged Disney’s forgettably cute Planes (which earned $13.1 million for fifth place) and holds profanity-laced bragging rights over two other newcomers that fared even worse. Jobs, about Apple’s near-legendary co-founder Steve Jobs, stumbled badly out of the gate, earning $6.7 million—the first real bomb Apple’s had on its hands since the Newton. And the makers of Paranoia may feel as if the whole moviegoing public’s out to get them: The corporate thriller made a meager $3.5 million.

Final figures update: 1. The Butler, $24.6 million; 2. We’re the Millers, $18 million; 3. Elysium, $13.7 million; 4. Planes, $13.4 million; 5. Kick-A– 2, $13.3 million.

Who wrote this?

Paul Asay has been writing for Plugged In since 2007 and loves superheroes and finding God in unexpected places. In addition, Paul has also written several books, with his newest—Burning Bush 2.0—recently published by Abingdon Press. When Paul’s not reviewing movies, he hikes with his wife, Wendy, runs marathons with his grown kids, Colin and Emily, and beats back unruly houseplants. Follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.

Have something to say? Leave a comment.

Scott Jamison More than 1 year ago

--Kick 2 has the problem that the people who really liked the comic book hate the way the movie toned things down, while those who didn't like the comic book are just plain going to skip the movie.

Siera Weber More than 1 year ago

--I guess I'm happy for The Butler, although I don't plan on watching it. It seems like an okay movie, at least better than Millers and Kick A-- 2 as far as content is concerned. I feel sorry for Planes, it seems like a good movie. Maybe I'll check it out on Redbox for my younger siblings at least. Still holding out for old Smaug to get Desolated here at the end of the year, and for Ender to have his Game.