All of the good word of mouth (sans some critics) has helped The Butler take the number one spot at the box office, very likely dragging people out who don’t go to the movies. There’s Oprah in the best performance she’s ever given (doesn’t get enough credit for being such a good actress), ditto Forest Whitaker, not to mention David Oyelowo. So, is it a film that is going to get anywhere near the critics awards? Probably not. But it is a story worth telling and a movie worth seeing. Full stop.
Indiewire’s Anne Thompson also points out that The Butler is on track to earn The Help kind of money, aka $169 million. So that’s good news, especially since no one can complain about how the maids were portrayed in an insulting manner, nevermind that those maids were Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer. The Butler does not utilize the magical negro scenario in the least bit. So if it makes money from white ticket buyers? Well, that will be quite something.
Rolling Stone’s Gary Susman breaks it all down:
WINNER OF THE WEEK: Lee Daniels’ The Butler: Actually, there are a lot of winners associated with this one, starting with Harvey Weinstein, who milked a duplicate-title dispute with Warner Bros. for maximum publicity, resulting in his anointing director Lee Daniels as a household-name filmmaker. Then there’s Daniels; not only is he now a name-before-the-title brand name like Tyler Perry, but he also gets props for making a sweeping Civil Rights epic with an all-star cast for just $30 million, then having it open at No. 1 with an estimated $25.0 million on a summer weekend against three other new wide releases.