“The Butler” beats “Kick-Ass 2” — hurrah!

Every once in a while, my faith in humanity is restored

"Lee Daniels' The Butler" was expected to bring in around the same amount of money this past weekend as "Kick-Ass 2.

"The Butler" is a thoughtful, rich drama about America's civil rights struggle

"Kick-Ass 2" is about teen superheroes who traffic in the outrageous, and the flick is so violent that co-star Jim Carrey disavowed the film.What happened:

"The Butler" came in #1.

It drew $25 million.

"Kick-Ass 2" made just $13.6 million — which is $10 million less than analysts had predicted.

What's the explanation for this happy situation?

Some pundits suggest "The Butler's" success has to do with Oprah Winfrey. And she has, in fact, been out doing interviews about her first acting role in 15 years, playing the title character's wife.

But I dare say it's more than The Oprah Effect. Most important was the fact that "The Butler" is a damned good movie. Even the early reviews were admiring, letting potential audience members know that, yes, this was one worth seeing.

The timing was just right, too. Often, a mature film that appeals to actual adults finds success during August, after a summer flush with flicks aimed at teenage boys.

An L.A. Times article reported that, of the people who went to see "The Butler," three-quarters of them were 35 or older, which, in Hollywood speak, qualifies as "an older demographic."

The Times also reported these stats about "The Butler" audience: about 40 percent of the North American audience was African-American, and about 60 percent of the ticketbuyers were female. What's so interesting is that those are two audiences major studios tend to ignore. Can it be that those groups are box-office forces to be reckoned with? Wouldn't it be wonderful if Hollywood realized it were so?

"The Butler" cost $30 million to produce, so the fact that it brought in $25 million in its opening weekend augurs well. Maybe — just maybe — it will encourage studios to make more movies like "The Butler."

What did you think of "Lee Daniels' The Butler"?

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