According to early ticket sales, "The Butler" was well on track for $9.5 million Friday, nearly doubling The Weinstein Company's expectations for the film.
Winfrey's last No. 1 film was the 1986 Oscar-nominated drama "The Color Purple."
"The Butler," based on the true story of longtime White House butler Eugene Allen, co-stars Oscar-winner Forest Whitaker and cost nearly $28 million to produce.
Universal's similarly low-budget "Kick-Ass 2" saw its fanboy frenzy wane late Friday, lowering weekend estimates to $16 million, down 20% from the original film's debut of $19.8 million.
Starring Chloe Moretz and Jim Carrey, "Kick-Ass 2" earned $1.3 million Thursday night but the sequel is riding a not-so-super 28% fresh rating on RottenTomatoes.
Also bowing wide this weekend, Open Road's Steve Jobs biopic "Jobs" and Relativity Media's thriller "Paranoia." Both films should debut to mid seven-figures.
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