Kick-Ass 2 Projected as This Weekend's #1, But Might Fall to The Butler's Word-Of-Mouth

kick-ass-2-247431ID1d_FinRtd1Sheet_2_rgbUPDATE 9:50 a.m. - In the time since I started this article, more places are actually calling for Kick-Ass 2 to come in at #2, but the headline stays because I published before I saw those and won't whitewash my mistake.

Most box office experts are calling for the film to take #1 this weekend, but a movement is afoot: Could Kick-Ass 2 get served by The Butler? That's what Box Office Mojo wonders as they project this weekend's box-office brawl between the action-comedy that's received largely negative reviews and the Forrest Whitaker/Oprah Winfrey-starring drama that's an early favorite for a number of big awards.

That would be a triumph for reviews and word-of-mouth over money spent on promotion, as Kick-Ass 2 has deployed dozens of posters, promos, clips and featurettes into the world where The Butler has generally coasted on buzz and a handful of talk show appearances by Oprah. It would also indicate that the summer movie season is really over, as big hits have come for female-driven, lower-budget films over the last few years at the tail end of the summer blockbusters. BOM note that from 2009 to 2011, Julie and JuliaEat Pray Love and The Help all opened over $20 million in August, as a different audience settles in after all the big, loud, explosion-filled movies aimed at young men released between May and July, which bodes well for The Butler.

The Butler (formally Lee Daniels's The Butler, due to a copyright issue) isn't the universally-acclaimed masterpiece that it's been billed as--it rates only 70% on Rotten Tomatoes right now, lower than the 77% garnered by Ain't Them Bodies Saints, a Casey Affleck/Rooney Mara film that also opens in comparable release this week.

Still, Box Office Mojo is expecting it to overcome competition and take the #1 spot--moreover, they think it will be the only one of the week's four buzziest releases that doesn't underperform.

Discussing not what they expect, but what they imagine the films need in order to have the opening weekend considered a success, BOM writes, "Kick-Ass 2 should at least match its predecessor's $19.8 million debut, while anything above $15 million is fine for Lee Daniels' The Butler. Considering they are each going out in over 2,300 locations with a nationwide marketing effort, Jobs and Paranoia ought to earn at least $10 million this weekend."

So--to make the studios happy, the numbers should look basically like this:

Forecast (August 16-18) 1. Kick-Ass 2 - $24.1 million 2. The Butler - $17.1 million -. Jobs - $11.3 million -. Paranoia - $10.6 million

And what they're expecting it to look like is this:

Forecast (August 16-18) 1. The Butler - $24.1 million 2. Kick-Ass 2 - $17.1 million 3. We're the Millers - $14.2 million 4. Planes - $13.9 million 5. Elysium - $13.1 million -. Jobs - $8.3 million -. Paranoia - $6.6 million

That's a bit disappointing, with three of the four big new releases failing to hit their mark.

Kick-Ass 2, of course, cost only $28 million to make and the first movie did huge money on home video, so a soft opening wouldn't necessarily kill chances of a third film--but it might mean such a film wouldn't be announced in a big hurry. Presently, Kick-Ass creators Mark Millar and John Romita, Jr. are working on Kick-Ass 3, the fourth and (for now) final comic book miniseries set in the world of those characters.