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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.

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

'Riddick' and 'Kick-Ass 2' Comic-Con panels: Universal unveils ultraviolent sequels

The Projects: Kick-Ass 2, the sequel to 2010’s ultraviolent dark superhero comedy, which features an assortment of new costumed psychopaths. And Riddick, the third film in the Pitch Black-spawned franchise about Vin Diesel’s galactic anti-hero.

The Panel: For Kick-Ass 2, the giant panel included returning stars Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Christopher Mintz-Plasse; new co-stars Lindy Booth, Donald Faison, John Leguizamo; director/writer Jeff Wadlow; and co-creators Mark Millar and John Romita Jr. (Although Chloe Grace Moretz wasn’t onstage, they beamed her in via satellite for a few questions.) Riddick opted for a smaller crew of Diesel, co-star (and Comic-Con demi-goddess) Katee Sackhoff, and writer-director David Twohy.

Footage Screened: Kick-Ass 2 showed off an extended version of the trailer, although the panelists noted that it was a green-band trailer to general cries of disappointment from the crowd. (The red-band version is already online.) The Riddick footage was also an extended trailer, but with a special focus on a scene where a captured Riddick and a crew of bounty hunters face down a flock of mysterious, spiky-tailed creatures.

Snap Judgment: The Kick-Ass 2 trailer almost certainly suffered from the green-banding; as Mintz-Plasse noted, “There’s about 300 swear words cut out of that.” The footage we saw lacked the hyper-stylized living-graphic-novel vibe that Matthew Vaughn brought to the original movie; it also looked disappointingly sentimental, with lots of talk about how the mask is your true self and we’re all heroes, etc etc.

Riddick, by comparison, looked uncompromisingly dark and got straight to the point, with lots of CGI vistas and a pumping bone-crack soundtrack. It looks crazy — and given all the CGI, some of it felt less like Pitch Black and more like a bleak sequel (bleakquel?) to Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. Which doesn’t sound too bad.

The Big Revelations: The panel was low on buzzy reveals, besides offering brief peeks at new characters like Faison’s Dr. Gravity and Booth’s Night Bitch — who, according to the actress, may have a steamy scene with the titular hero. However, Christopher Mintz-Plasse revealed one major change from book-to-film: His villainous character no longer kills a dog.

The Riddick panelists were equally tightlipped, mostly because Diesel and Twohy — who were last at Comic-Con with Pitch Black over a decade ago — just seemed incredibly happy to be onstage. However, the footage did reveal that the new film finds Riddick, at least initially, in a dangerously domesticated state of mind: The film seems to be about the character getting back to basics, which a theoretical smarmy pop culture writer could say is a comment on how the new film is stripping out the big-budget decadence of The Chronicles of Riddick. (Diesel did have a big revelation, though it wasn’t related to Riddick.)

Most Incisive Audience Question: The Kick-Ass 2 panel didn’t have a Q&A session, possibly because the studio didn’t want anyone asking incisive questions about co-star Jim Carrey’s recent twitter history. One attendee at the Riddick panel asked: “Because you play so many badass characters: For someone like me, who doesn’t sound as badass as you or look as badass as you : How can I be more badass?” Diesel responded thoughtfully: “I am seeing a level of badass growing in you as you speak. I think every syllable takes you to a higher level of badassery. Continue on on your journey to be a badass.”

Violent new 'Kick-Ass 2' trailer doesn't run from gun controversy

Oooooo, boy. Jim Carrey is going to get Carpal tunnel from tweeting about this one.

Kick-Ass 2 unveiled an extended NSFW trailer at Comic-Con, and it’s already available online. Carrey, who joins the franchise as the patriotic vigilante, Colonel Stars and Stripes, has expressed regret about the film’s level of violence in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook school shooting, complicating Universal’s promotional plans. But this new clip aims full-steam into the storm, embracing the film’s over-the-top comic-book violence. In the opening scene, the two main characters frivolously exercise their right to bear arms, and then when Hit-Girl (Chloë Grace Moretz) finally shows off her deadly skills, she dis-arms an devious villain.

“Game on, c–ksuckers,” she says later. Indeed.

Watch the explosive clip below.

Jim Carrey won't endorse the violence in 'Kick-Ass 2'


Jim Carrey has had a change of heart about Kick-Ass 2. In the upcoming sequel to the violent 2010 adaptation of Mark Millar’s comic book, Carrey plays Colonel Stars and Stripes, an oddball vigilante who teams up with the titular hero (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Hit-Girl (Chloë Grace Moretz). But over the weekend, Carrey tweeted word that his work on the film is weighing on his conscience, in light of the school massacre at Sandy Hook. “I cannot support that level of violence,” he wrote on Sunday. “I am not ashamed of [the movie] but recent events have caused a change in my heart.”


Hollywood having a 'ball' with previews at CinemaCon


Hollywood is making the low-blow a higher art form.

That’s one way to look at the escalation of exotic testicle mayhem on the preview screens at CinemaCon, the Las Vegas convention where studios show theater exhibitors the next big thing in film entertainment.

Judging by the first two days of presentations, it’s clear that Hollywood will be keeping its eye on the ball through the end of 2014. Consider: READ FULL STORY

'Kick-Ass 2' international trailer: 'Try to have fun' -- VIDEO

When last we left the citizens-turned-superheroes of Kick-Ass, half of them were dead and the other half were covered in blood. But three years have been kind to Chloe Moretz’ Mindy Macready and Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s Dave Lizewski. She has nice bangs, he has a nice body… which they still use to totally take down any evil persons who get in their way. Did we hope for any different?

Bonus: some new footage of Jim Carrey’s Colonel Stars and Stripes, who brings with him the promise of gray-haired nihilism and a plan for a super-group of Kick-Assers. Or, put another way, “Try to have fun. Otherwise, what’s the point?”


'Kick-Ass 2' red-band trailer: Jim Carrey joins the superhero sequel -- NSFW VIDEO

The cult-hit superhero dark comedy Kick-Ass earned a modest amount of money back in 2010, and the film’s following has only grown in the last few years. The film’s success made a cool-kid superstar out of Chloë Grace Moretz and landed director Matthew Vaughn the X-Men: First Class gig. This summer brings Kick-Ass 2, which sees a slightly older Hit-Girl and Kick-Ass joining forces with a whole league of hilariously bargain-bin superheroes, including an unrecognizable Jim Carrey as Colonel Stars and Stripes. Also, Christopher Mintz-Plasse is back as Red Mist, although now he’s given himself a new name which is unprintable on this family website. So watch the NSFW trailer below: READ FULL STORY

Casting Net: Michael Fassbender set to play rock star in 'Frank.' Plus: Jim Carrey joins 'Kick-Ass 2'

Jim Carrey has joined Kick-Ass 2 as Colonel Stars, who joins the motley crew of vigilante masked heroes sparked by the titular green-suited star (Aaron Johnson). Carrey joins Johnson, Chloë Grace MoretzChristopher Mintz-Plasse, and Donald FaisonJeff Wadlow (Never Back Down) is directing from his script. [Deadline/Twitter]

• Jason Clarke (Lawless) will play Abraham Lincoln’s father Tom Lincoln in the The Green Blade Rises, the Terrence Malick-produced biopic about the childhood and adolescent years of the 16th President of the United States. Diane Kruger will play Abe’s stepmother, Sarah. Regular Malick collaborator A.J. Edwards is writing and directing. [Deadline]

Read more:
Casting Net: Michael Pitt to play Hollywood legend’s husband. Plus: Brie Larson, Thomas Ian Nicholas
Casting Net: Michael Douglas aiming to play Ronald Reagan. Plus: Michael Keaton new ‘Robocop’ villain
Casting Net: Evan Rachel Wood in talks to play female trucker in ’18 Wheel Butterfly.’ Plus: Jennifer Jason Leigh, Frances Fisher

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