by Pamela McClintock
The independent historical drama — headlining Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey— took in $5.4 million in its fifth weekend for The Weinstein Co., pushing the movie’s North American total to a stellar $100 million.
Daniels becomes one of only a handful of black directors to have a film clear that mark, not accounting for inflation.
One reason for The Butler‘s success is that it is playing to all audiences, according to Harvey Weinstein‘s team. On opening weekend, 52 percent of ticket buyers were black; now, 67 percent of the audience is white. The Butler is also becoming a family play.
The Butler opened in mid-August, hoping to mirror the success of The Help, another civil-rights themed drama. The Butler isn’t likely to match The Help‘s lifetime domestic gross of $169.7 million, but The Help was different in featuring both black and white lead actors.
In the film, 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.
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.