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Box office report: 'The Butler' cleans up with $25 million, wipes the floor with 'Kick-Ass 2'

This weekend at the box office, a superhero comedy, a Steve Jobs biopic, and a Harrison Ford thriller all got served by a butler. Lee Daniels’ The Butler, to be exact. The Weinstein Company’s awards-bait drama, which stars Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey, topped the chart with an excellent $25 million from 2,933 theaters in its first frame. Audiences issued the well-reviewed picture an enthusiastic “A” CinemaScore grade, which sets it up for a lucrative box office run as summer draws to a close.

The Butler opened in the same range as The Help, which found $26 million in its first weekend in August 2011. Like that film, The Butler tells a racially charged story that is playing particularly well with older women. According to Weinstein, crowds were 60 percent female and 76 percent above the age of 35. Winfrey’s presence no doubt helped lure in many of those ticket-buyers, as did The Butler‘s “inspired by a true story” cachet.
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Box office update: 'The Butler' dishes out $8.3 million Friday, kicks 'Kick-Ass 2' to the curb

Oprah Winfrey doesn’t lend her name to just any project, but when she does, you can be sure that people will take notice. Her latest effort — and first film in over a decade – Lee Daniels’ The Butler, proved extra appealing to ticket buyers. The period drama, which also stars Forest Whitaker and Terrence Howard, served up $8.3 million on its first Friday, which puts it on pace for a $25 million weekend and an easy first place finish. READ FULL STORY

Box office preview: 'Kick-Ass 2' may get served by 'The Butler' this weekend

Welcome to the dog days of the August box office, when studios flood theaters with their final summer releases before the prestigious fall season begins.  Last weekend, four new releases entered theaters, this weekend four new releases are hitting the big screen, and heck — next week, four more new releases are opening.

This week’s new movies — Kick-Ass 2, Lee Daniels’ The Butler, Jobs, and Paranoia — fall into two camps: the number one contenders and the likely underperformers. Here’s how the weekend may play out:

1. Lee Daniels’ The Butler – $25 million
The Danny Strong-penned historical drama, which stars Forest Whitaker, John Cusack, Terrence Howard, and, notably, Oprah Winfrey, may be able to swipe the top spot away from Kick-Ass 2. Sure, Weinstein, which is releasing the $30 million film about longtime White House butler Eugene Allen, says it’s expecting a debut in the high-teens, but stories about race in American culture are reliably appealing at the box office (42 opened to $27.5 million earlier this year; The Help opened to $25 million in August 2011).

The Butler is also a patriotic tale and its real-life inspiration makes it even more appealing for audiences. Oscar fans will flock to the first awards-bait of 2013, history buffs that loved Lincoln will turn out to see presidents come to life on screen, and audiences that love Oprah (according to a Fandango poll, 72 percent of ticket-buyers said she increased their likelihood to see the film) won’t miss the chance to catch her in a rare scripted role. Out in 2,933 theaters, The Butler may take in about $25 million. READ FULL STORY

Watch Ashton Kutcher change the world in 'Jobs' Trailer -- VIDEO

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Check out the new trailer for Ashton Kutcher’s Jobs, where the actor takes on the role of famed Apple co-creator Steve Jobs. Glimpses from the footage show Apple’s humble beginnings, through some turbulent times when Jobs was fired from his own company, and a shot of him looking at his reflection in the revolutionary iPhone. Check it out below: READ FULL STORY

'Jobs' Instagram trailer: Steve Jobs' life philosophy, in 15 seconds or less -- VIDEO

Jobs is the tale of a man who brought technology to the masses — so it’s only appropriate that we pay homage to him by watching a trailer for the film in a tiny box on an iPhone screen.

An Instagram trailer — the first of its kind, the studio boasted — debuted Monday, featuring some groovy ’70s filters and a voice-over from star Ashton Kutcher, who plays legendary Apple CEO Steve Jobs. He fervently reminds us that “the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”

Watch the sneak peek (all 15 seconds of it) below:
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Ashton Kutcher thinks different in 'Jobs' trailer -- VIDEO

Steve Jobs was an iconoclast who revolutionized the home computer and personal entertainment, and Ashton Kutcher channels the Apple co-founder’s intense focus in Jobs, the biopic that premiered at January’s Sundance Film Festival. In the first lengthy trailer for the movie, which arrives Aug. 16, Kutcher’s Jobs is a cool hippie who sees the future when his geeky pal Steve Wozniak (Josh Gad) links a primitive computer to a clunky monitor. It’s a billion-dollar idea just waiting for someone to market. Guess which Steve runs with it?

The trailer seems to embrace the notion that Jobs was a tech prophet — if not an outright messiah — but saves his conniving and despicable people skills for audiences on opening weekend.

Dermot Mulroney, Lukas Haas, J.K. Simmons, Ahna O’Reilly, and Matthew Modine portray the real people who helped and/or stood in Jobs’ way.
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Ashton Kutcher's 'Jobs' gets a release date

Open Road Films will release its Steve Jobs biopic Jobs on August 16.

Ashton Kutcher stars in the title role as Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. The film is directed by Joshua Michael Stern (Swing Vote). Originally set for an April 19 release as a gesture towards the anniversary of Apple’s founding, in March Open Road Films pulled the film from that weekend hoping to find a better slot.

The August 16 weekend is already fairly full, with wide releases including Universal’s action sequel Kick-Ass 2, The Weinstein Company’s drama The Butler, and Relativity’s thriller Paranoia, not to mention limited releases like Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, Austenland, and Prince Avalanche, which all played Sundance. That weekend is, however, somewhat comfortably outside the territory of the tentpole summer blockbuster hopefuls. Elysium, Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, Planes, and We’re the Milllers open the weekend prior.

Jobs premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film festival and co-stars Matthew Modine, Dermot Mulroney, and Josh Gad as Steve Wozniak. In January, EW’s Owen Gleiberman wrote that Gad’s performance “strikes the most relatable note in the movie.”

Read More:
Ashton Kutcher’s Steve Jobs movie bumped
Sundance: Ashton Kutcher gets his angry geek on in ‘jOBS,’ a fascinating Steve Jobs biopic that leaves you wanting more. Plus, James Franco’s ‘Interior. Leather Bar.
Ashton Kutcher tweets mindbending image of himself with Steve Jobs — PHOTO

Ashton Kutcher's Steve Jobs biopic bumped from April release date

One of the more hotly-anticipated films of the spring will have a bit more time to build anticipation, as Jobs, the biopic that stars Ashton Kutcher as Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, has been bumped from its April 19 release date.

Distributor Open Road Films had gravitated toward the April 19 date because it marks the 37th anniversary of the founding of Apple in Jobs’ legendary garage (where part of the film was actually shot). According to a report in The Hollywood Reporter, the movie was bumped in order to create a better marketing window, but no new date has been set.

Jobs was written by newcomer Matthew Whiteley and directed by Joshua Michael Stern (Swing Vote), and also has a pretty killer supporting cast in Dermot Mulroney, J.K. Simmons, Lukas Haas, and Matthew Modine. It premiered at January’s Sundance Film Festival, where EW film critic Owen Gleiberman called it “a starkly honest portrait” that still “leaves you wanting more.”

Read more:
Sundance: Ashton Kutcher gets his angry geek on in ‘jOBS,’ a fascinating Steve Jobs biopic that leaves you wanting more. Plus, James Franco’s ‘Interior. Leather Bar.
Bill Gates on ‘Colbert’: ‘Steve Jobs was always cooler than me’ — VIDEO
Ashton Kutcher tweets mindbending image of himself with Steve Jobs — PHOTO
Ashton Kutcher gets honest: ‘I know exactly what films I’ve done that f–ing suck donkey’

Sundance: Ashton Kutcher gets his angry geek on in 'jOBS,' a fascinating Steve Jobs biopic that leaves you wanting more. Plus, James Franco's 'Interior. Leather Bar.

Computer culture speeds everything up — makes it more instant, more immediate, maybe more disposable — and so it makes sense, in a way, that the biopics of the computer revolution are coming out so quickly, when the revolution is barely into its second act. (Most of the revered musical legends of the ’60s and ’70s are still waiting for their movie bios.) The Social Network was released just a few years after the launch of Facebook, but it was cuttingly incisive, brilliant, timeless. And now, only a little more than a year after Steve Jobs’ death, the time feels right for jOBS, which premiered last night at Sundance, and which tells the story of the Apple co-founder and black-turtlenecked guru of the technocratic age. READ FULL STORY

'jOBS' filmmakers respond to Steve Wozniak's complaints that first clip was inaccurate -- EXCLUSIVE

Well, that didn’t take long: Just a few hours after EW posted the first clip from jOBS — a Steve Jobs biopic starring Ashton Kutcher as the tech visionary and Josh Gad as his partner Steve Wozniak — Wozniak himself took to Gizmodo’s comment boards to deride the film as inaccurate. “Not close,” he wrote. “We never had such interaction and roles…I’m not even sure what it’s getting at…personalities are very wrong although mine is closer.”

Later, Wozniak would expand on his comment in two emails to Gizmodo, calling the scene “totally wrong.” He objected to the film’s styling — “I never looked like a professional” — as well as the way the clip seemed to credit Jobs with ideas Wozniak claims as his own: “The ideas of computers affecting society did not come from Jobs. They inspired me.” He concluded by poking fun at the Apple guru’s mercenary nature — “By the way, the Apple I was the 5th time I designed something just for fun that Steve found a way to turn into money.”

When asked for comment, jOBS publicist Amanda Lundberg responded with the following statement:

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