Never underestimate the power of
Heading into the weekend, prerelease audience surveys suggested that "The Butler" -- the first movie the media mogul has appeared in in 15 years -- would be in a tight race with
The weekend's other two debuts proved to be major disappointments.
"The Butler" stars
“I think we trended older because of the subject matter -- the fact that it’s based on a true story interests a more educated, sophisticated crowd,” said Erik Lomis, president of theatrical distribution and home entertainment for Weinstein Co, which distributed the $30-million production.
In exit polls, he added, filmgoers said the No. 1 reason they saw “The Butler” was its subject matter, followed closely by Winfrey.
“Oprah Winfrey is a huge factor as to why this movie was so popular,” Lomis said. “People really want to see her, and she worked very hard on it.”
This weekend, "The Butler" performed especially well in
Still, Lomis wasn't ready to make a comparison between the two films: "Talk to me in four weeks," he said.
As for "Kick-Ass 2," the violent, R-rated film got off to a worse start than the original, which debuted with $19.8 million in 2010 and ultimately collected $96.2 million worldwide. Unlike that first installment, the sequel was met with largely negative reviews, but its predominantly young male crowd was kinder than the critics, giving the movie an average grade of B+.
Fortunately for distributor Universal Pictures, the movie was independently financed by producer Matthew Vaughn for just $28 million. Universal picked up worldwide rights to "Kick-Ass 2" for about $29 million last year after Lionsgate -- which released the original domestically -- opted out of distributing the sequel.
The comic-book adaptation stars
Back in America,
Kutcher, 35, has had a mixed track record at the box office in recent years. When he's paired with a popular leading actress, his movies tend to do better -- think
At least Kutcher's weekend wasn't as bad as Liam Hemsworth's. The 23-year-old "Paranoia" star is known to most as a player in
"Paranoia" -- Liam Hemsworth's first film in which he plays the lead -- notched just a 4% "fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes and received a C+ grade from moviegoers.