The Butler serves US box office hit
Lee Daniels' The Butler is serving up success at the US box office.
Starring Forest Whitaker as a longtime White House butler and Oprah Winfrey as his boozy wife, the Weinstein Co biopic debuted in the top spot with 25 million US dollars (£16 million), according to studio estimates.
But the weekend's three other major new releases, including the action romp Kick-Ass 2, failed to find traction with fans.
"We expected to do well, but we didn't expect to do this well," said Erik Lomis, president of distribution and home entertainment for Weinstein Co, adding that The Butler is the company's first number one debut since 2009's Inglourious Basterds directed by Quentin Tarantino.
Even with a full slate of newcomers, last week's top movies claimed the second and third spots in the box-office race. The Jason Sudeikis-Jennifer Aniston Warner Bros comedy, We're the Millers, held onto second place in its second week of release with 17.78 million dollars (£11.4 million), while last week's number one, Sony's Elysium, dropped to third with 13.6 million dollars (£8.7 million).
"It was tough if you were any other film opening other than The Butler," said Paul Dergarabedian of box-office tracker Hollywood.com.
Kick-Ass 2, Universal's tale of everyday teenagers who dress up as superhero crime-fighters, opened in fourth place with 13.56 million dollars (£8.67 million). Open Road's Steve Jobs biopic, Jobs, debuted in seventh place with 6.7 million dollars (£4.3 million). And Relativity's Paranoia, which stars Harrison Ford, Gary Oldman and Liam Hemsworth, didn't crack the top 12.
"Maybe it should have been Oprah Winfrey's Jobs," Dergarabedian said. "It would have had a better shot."
Apart from Winfrey's unmatched marketing power, The Butler also marked the mogul's return to the big screen for the first time since 1998's Beloved.