Vin Diesel had to wait nine years to bring his passion project, Riddick, to the big screen, but the wait paid off – the film topped the chart in its opening weekend and became the star’s second number one film this year after Fast & Furious 6. Riddick opened with $18.7 million, which marks a 23 percent drop from The Chronicles of Riddick’s $24.3 million start in 2004. That may sound like a steep decline, but it’s important to remember that the two films had a very different sets of stakes.
The Chronicles of Riddick cost $105 million and finished with a weak $57 million total – not to mention poor critical reviews and weak audience reactions from fans who felt like the film’s PG-13 rating took away the dark edge present in franchise launchpad, Pitch Black, which earned $39.2 million in 2000. Diesel obtained the rights to Riddick from Universal as part of his negotiations to return to the Fast & Furious franchise, and he spent years raising the film’s $38 million budget through independent financiers. Universal agreed to distribute the film, and the studio shouldn’t be too disappointed that Riddick earned back half of its budget on opening weekend, especially during the traditionally weak post-Labor Day frame.
Due to its intense fanboy appeal, Riddick was never destined to have long legs at the box office, but its unremarkable “B” CinemaScore won’t help matters, either. But the film should do very well in the home market. Universal reports that crowds seeing Riddick were 59 percent male and 37 percent Hispanic (compared to 31 percent Caucasian) – an especially interesting statistic on the same weekend that Spanish-language smash Instructions Not Included over-performed financially. (More on that later.)
In second place, Lee Daniels’ The Butler served up another $8.9 million, marking a healthy drop of just 35 percent in its fourth weekend. The Weinstein Co.’s $30 million drama starring Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey has now grossed $91.9 million total, and it should be able to surpass the $100 million mark by the end of next weekend. At the beginning of its run, the film seemed like it would perform much like The Help, another August release with a story about race in America, but it’s now running well behind the popular book adaptation, which had earned $124.3 million at the end of its fourth frame. That doesn’t mean The Butler isn’t a winner, though – it certainly is.
Eugenio Derbez’s Spanish-language dramedy Instructions Not Included expanded from 347 to 717 theaters this weekend and ticked up 3 percent to $8.1 million as a result. The runaway hit from Pantelion Films (a joint venture of Lionsgate and Mexican broadcaster Televisa) has now grossed $20.3 million after ten days, already making it the tenth highest-grossing foreign language film of all time in the United States. If Instructions, which cost only $5.5 million to make, continues its Cinderella run – and that seems likely given its “A+” CinemaScore and great $11,297 per theater average – it could surpass Pan’s Labyrinth’s $37.6 million cume to become the highest grossing Spanish-language film ever in the U.S.
We’re the Millers held onto fourth place in its fifth weekend. The R-rated comedy fell 38 percent to $7.9 million for an impressive $123.8 million total against a $37 million budget. The Warner Bros. film surpassed Jason Sudeikis and Jennifer Aniston’s previous collaboration Horrible Bosses, which earned $117.5 million, to become Sudeikis’ highest-grossing film ever. Aniston has starred in two releases that grossed more: Marley and Me ($143.2M) and Bruce Almighty ($242.8M).
One Direction: This Is Us plummeted out of the Top 5, dropping 74 percent to $4.1 million, which allowed Disney’s Planes to spend one more weekend in the upper ranks of the chart. Planes continued to benefit from being the only animated film in the market (and it still has three weekends to go before the arrival of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2), dipping 45 percent to $4.3 million this weekend. After five weekends, Planes has flown away with $79.3 million. which is a pretty great result considering it debuted with just $22.2 million in August. In the end, Planes will have earned about four times as much as its opening weekend – and well more than its $50 million budget.
1. Riddick – $18.7 million
2. Lee Daniels’ The Butler – $8.9 million
3. Instructions Not Included – $8.1 million
4. We’re The Millers – $7.9 million
5. Planes – $4.3 million
Next weekend, Robert DeNiro and Michelle Pfeiffer’s action comedy The Family goes head-to-head with James Wan’s horror sequel Insidious 2, which is hoping to score a little extra business by opening on Friday the 13th. Check back to EW all weekend to see how they fare.