Sony Pictures decided to abandon "Lee Daniels' The Butler," placing its 2013 summer bets on "White House Down" and "After Earth."
Think the studio wishes it now had made a different decision?
"The Butler," whose financing was cobbled together by numerous investors and is distributed by the Weinstein Co., is continuing to dominate the box office and is certain to finish in first place in its second week of release, according to early numbers released Saturday.
The fact-based account of a black White House butler who served in eight presidential administrations is projected to gross as much as $16 million this weekend, easily surpassing the holdover "We're the Millers" and the new releases "The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones," "The World's End" and "You're Next," none of which are performing strongly.
With an additional $16 million in sales, that would push "The Butler's" total take past the $50-million mark. And if audience interest in the Forest Whitaker movie continues to hold, "The Butler," made at a cost of $30 million, would surpass $100 million in domestic release.
That would put "The Butler" way beyond Sony's $150-million "White House Down" (domestic gross to date: $72.1 million) and its $130-million "After Earth" (domestic gross to date: $60.5 million).
"The Butler" is hardly the only independent film enjoying a later summer surge.
Fox Searchlight's coming-of-age comedy "The Way, Way Back" is close to surpassing the $20-million mark, and Woody Allen's "Blue Jasmine," now in wider release than any previous Allen-directed film, should finish in the top 10 this weekend with a three-day gross for Sony Pictures Classics of more than $4 million, bringing the movie close to $15 million in total revenues.