Bloomberg News

‘Riddick’ Leads Box Office With $19 Million for Universal (1)

September 09, 2013

“Riddick,” a science-fiction thriller starring Vin Diesel, took first place in U.S. and Canadian theaters at the weekend to give Universal Pictures its eighth No. 1 opening of the year.

“Riddick,” the only new movie in wide release, collected $19 million to unseat “Lee Daniels’ The Butler,” researcher Hollywood.com Box-Office said today in a statement. “The Butler,” starring Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey, generated $8.4 million in ticket sales its fourth weekend.

The win extends Universal’s 2013 lead among Hollywood studios, with a 17 percent domestic market share led by “Despicable Me 2” and “Fast & Furious 6,” its last outing with Diesel. The Comcast Corp (CMCSA:US).-owned distributor had reached $1.31 billion in U.S. and Canada as of Sept. 5, ahead of Time Warner Inc. (TWX:US)’s $1.28 billion, according to Box Office Mojo.

“Universal is having a great year, and the ‘Riddick’ opening, while it’s a little softer than expectations in North America, is the kind of film that’s going to play really well overseas,” Phil Contrino, chief analyst for BoxOffice.com, said in a telephone interview. Diesel “is a one-man marketing machine” and has a strong fan base in countries such as Russia, Brazil and the U.K., he said.

“Riddick” stars Diesel in the main role as a bounty hunter, left for dead on a sun-scorched planet, who finds himself up against an alien race of predators. The movie and its predecessors, “The Chronicles of Riddick,” released in 2004, and 2000’s “Pitch Black,” were all directed by David Twohy and starred Diesel.

Genre Basics

“Twohy has smartly gone back to genre basics with this installment, which serves as an effective reboot,” wrote Manohla Dargis in the New York Times. “Gone are the silly costumes and wigs, the overstuffed plot and exotic-sounding villains like the Necromongers.”

Universal and Diesel scored a summer hit with “Fast & Furious 6,” which generated $238.7 million in domestic ticket sales, according to Box Office Mojo -- fifth for the just-ended season. Worldwide it totaled $788 million on a production budget estimated at $160 million before marketing costs. Studios split ticket revenue with exhibitors.

“Lee Daniels’ The Butler,” from Weinstein Co., is based on the real-life story of Eugene Allen, who served eight U.S. presidents from Eisenhower to Reagan. Made for an estimated $30 million, it has collected $91.4 million since its Aug. 16 debut, according to Box Office Mojo, after holding the top spot for three weeks.

Spanish-Language Films

“Instructions Not Included,” from Pantelion Films and Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. (LGF:US), took in $8.1 million for third place, with an expanded release to 717 theaters. The movie opened in 348 theaters over Labor Day weekend and took $10.4 million for the biggest debut of a Spanish-language film in North America.

Starring and directed by Mexican TV star Eugenio Derbez, the movie chronicles the life of an unemployed playboy-turned-Hollywood stuntman left to raise a child he fathered with one of his exes. Ticket sales have been buoyed by favorable reviews.

“This isn’t a fluke -- you’re going to see more Spanish language films succeed, simply because there’s a large segment of the population that wants to see films in Spanish,” Contrino said. “It’s the beginning of something bigger to come.”

“We’re the Millers” the Warner Bros. comedy, placed fourth in its fifth weekend, collecting $7.7 million.

Weekend revenue for the top 12 films rose 27 percent to $66.1 million from the year-earlier period, Hollywood.com said. Attendance year-to-date is down 2.2 percent, while revenue is up 1.1 percent to $7.8 billion.

The following table has U.S. movie box-office figures provided by studios to Hollywood.com Box-Office. The amounts are based on gross ticket sales on Sept. 6-8.

                       Rev.            Avg./   Pct.   Total
Movie                 (mln)  Theaters  Theater Chg.   (mln)  Wks
================================================================
 1 RIDDICK            $19.0    3,107   $6,125   --    $19.0    1
 2 THE BUTLER           8.4    3,330    2,523  -44     91.4    4
 3 INSTRUCTIONS NOT     8.1      717   11,366    4     20.4    2
 4 WE’RE THE MILLERS    7.7    3,445    2,234  -39    123.6    5
 5 PLANES               4.1    3,033    1,359  -47     79.1    5
 6 ONE DIRECTION        4.0    2,735    1,480  -74     23.9    2
 7 ELYSIUM              3.1    2,241    1,402  -51     85.1    5
 8 PERCY JACKSON        2.4    2,045    1,186  -46     59.8    5
 9 BLUE JASMINE         2.3    1,069    2,196  -41     25.1    7
10 THE WORLD’S END      2.3    1,520    1,523  -54     21.8    3
11 MORTAL INSTRUMENTS   2.2    2,519      876  -60     27.9    3
12 GETAWAY              2.2    2,135    1,026  -51      8.7    2


Top 12 Films Grosses

   This Week     Year Ago      Pct.
     (mln)         (mln)       Chg.
===================================
     $66.1         $51.9       +27


Year-to-date Revenue

     2013          2012
      YTD           YTD        Pct.
     (mln)         (mln)       Chg.
===================================
    $7,775        $7,691      +1.1

Year-to-date Attendance:     -2.2%

Source: Hollywood.com Box-Office

To contact the reporters on this story: Ben Livesey in San Francisco at blivesey@bloomberg.net; Charles Mead in New York at cmead11@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Palazzo at apalazzo@bloomberg.net


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