Once again Lee Daniels’ The Butler was the No.1 film this weekend with $17 million and a total-to-date B.O. gross of over $52 million, and, once again, I predicted it. Can’t say I’m surprised considering that every single person I’ve talked to so far who has seen the film has told me that the audience was emotional and crying by the end of it.
And with only one limited release from Focus Features scheduled to open this Friday, The Butler is almost certain to be No.1 for the third weekend in a row next week.
That says to me that the film has incredible word-of-mouth, which means some very long B.O. legs, and is poised to do easily $100 million domestically. What it does beyond that is anyone’s guess.
If that happens, it would make Lee Daniels the first African-American director in a while who’s made a film that has reached the golden $100 million milestone domestically.
Which made me wonder, what other African American directors have done that? First one who comes to mind is Tim Story, for sure. Antoine Fuqua’s Olympus Has Fallen did just a shade under $99 million, so let's cut him a little slack and say he did.
Sidney Poitier’s 1980 comedy Stir Crazy with Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder made $101 million, which, back in 1980, was a staggering amount and an extremely rare achievement. And if you adjust that in 2013 dollars, that would be an unbelievable $307 million today.
What other AA directors can you name? I know there must be others. It’s just too early in the morning to think of some right now. Help me out.
And I know who you’re thinking of.... Tyler Perry, but nope. The closest he’s ever gotten was $90.5 million for 2009’s Medea’s Goes To Jail. Close, but no cigar, and he’s never remotely come that close before or since.
The Twilight/Hunger Games wanna-be, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, pretty much tanked, while Edgar Wright’s The World’s End did solid business, puling in $9 million on just only 1500 screens, which means Focus Features should have had more confidence in the film and opened it up wider.
We’re the Millers has become a genuine summer sleeper, despite predictions from B.O. analysts that it would be a flop. It is going to easily sail past $100 million and go well beyond that.
Meanwhile, the horror/slasher film You’re Next, which was thought to be The Butler’s major competitor this weekend, underperformed, coming in seventh.