*“Lee Daniels’ The Butler” took in an additional $5.4 million in its fifth weekend for The Weinstein Co., pushing the movie’s North American total past the $100 million mark.
This makes Daniels the third black director to have a film clear that milestone after John Singleton and Tim Story.
In 2003, Singleton’s “2 Fast 2 Furious” earned just north of $127 million domestically. Story’s “Fantastic Four” (2005) and “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer” (2007) grossed $154.7 million and $132 million, respectively, in North America.
“The Butler” has become a box office hit because it’s able to play to all audiences. According to Harvey Weinstein’s team, 52 percent of ticket buyers were black on opening weekend and now 67 percent of the audience is white. It’s quickly becoming a family play.
With an August release, “The Butler” was looking to mirror the success of another civil-rights themed film, “The Help.”
In the film, Forest Whitaker plays a White House butler who serves through eight presidential administrations, a character inspired by the real-life story of the late Eugene Allen.
Oprah Winfrey, who plays the butler’s wife, has provided an enormous marketing boost for the movie because of her avid fanbase.
“The Butler” already is considered an awards contender, particularly for Whitaker and Winfrey’s performances.