Everything is coming up roses for Lee Daniels’ The Butler. The film, inspired by the story of White House butler Eugene Allen, opened up this weekend to an estimated $25 million. It’s not too bad for a film that was produced with a $30 million budget. With schools starting to go back in session, there’s no reason to see why it wouldn’t break even before next weekend gets here.
It’s looking similar to another movie, The Help, that opened around the same time in 2011. The Help was produced on a budget of $25 million and grossed $26 million during its opening weekend. Both movies deal with civil rights issues. One set at the White House, the other in the Deep South. The Help is Certified Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes while The Butler is not.
Scott Feinberg, an awards analyst for The Hollywood Reporter, sees the similarities in the two films. Feinberg writes that “it looks increasingly likely to me that the film will wind up as a major player in the Oscar race.” Another reason for that is Harvey Weinstein.
One big thing to pay attention to in the Oscars race:
Ironically, the biggest obstacle separating it from some major Oscar noms might be the other awards hopefuls that are also being handled this season by TWC — a long list that could grow even longer if Weinstein elects to pick up another contender or two at the fall fests, as he often has done in the past.
Feinberg also notes that it won’t be an easy walk for the actors to get nominated or even win in what is expected to be a crowded race for Best Actor and Best Actress alike. It all depends on which movies that The Weinstein Company decides to push this awards season.
The Butler has a talented cast that includes Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey, John Cusack, Jane Fonda, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Terrence Howard, Lenny Kravitz, James Marsden, David Oyelowo, Vanessa Redgrave, Alan Rickman, Liev Schreiber, Robin Williams, and Clarence Williams III. In minor roles are Minka Kelly, Mariah Carey, and Alex Pettyfer.
It was the last film produced by the late Laura Ziskin, who died from cancer in 2011.