Box office roundup – Sept. 8, 2013 – "Riddick" rises to the top thanks to (Vin) Diesel power

Riddick 2013 movie Vin Diesel1. Riddick – $18.9 million [debut week] – Vin Diesel hasn’t appeared in a non-“Fast and Furious” film since the underwhelming “Baylon A.D.,” which ended its 2008 run with $22 million. The third entry of Diesel’s Riddick series should pass that by Tuesday. The last Riddick film, the underwhelming “The Chronicles of Riddick,” opened in 2004 to $24 million — a poor opening for a $105 million budgeted film. “Riddick’s” far more reasonable $38 million budget all but guarantees a profit, but this figure only serves to show how savvy a move Diesel made in returning to the “Fast and Furious” franchise.

Fast and Furious 6 Paul Walker as Brian and Vin Diesel as DomSince 2000, Diesel has had six films open above $30 million — 2005’s “The Pacifier” with $30 million and 2002’s “xXx” with $44 million. The rest? “Fast” franchise films. “The Fast and Furious” kicked things off in 2001 with $40 million; “Fast & Furious” opened in 2009 to $70 million, “Fast 5” debuted in 2011 to $86 million and “Fast and Furious 6” opened this year to $97 million and there’s little indication that the seventh installment won’t surpass that number. Bottom line, Diesel can do whatever side projects he wants so long as he keeps churning out installments of his chief moneymaking franchise.

The Weinstein Company Gloria (Oprah Winfrey) and Cecil Gaines (Forest Whitaker).
The Weinstein Company
Gloria (Oprah Winfrey) and Cecil Gaines (Forest Whitaker).

2. Lee Daniels’ The Butler – $8.9 million [4th week; $91.9 million] After surging past “One Direction’s This Is Us” to claim the top spot for a third consecutive weekend in a 2013 first, the drama starring Oprah Winfrey and Forest Whitaker is finally displaced.

Figures if anyone could do it, it’d be Vin Diesel.

But September doesn’t have a lot of can’t miss hits so look for this Oscar contender to continue to fare well in the Top 5 for the remainder of the month. “Riddick” likely will drop past this next week so it’s likely we’ll see “The Butler” settle into second for a few weeks.

3. Instructions Not Included– $8.1 million [2nd week; $20 million] The breakout comedy had a fantastic opening of $10 million despite appearing in only 347 theaters last week and now it’s been expanded to 717 theaters. Kinda odd that the numbers dropped despite a larger audience getting the chance to see it. I’ll be curious to see if the opening week was the core audience and if the film will struggle to attract newcomers. Let’s hope that’s not the case as it may make it more challenging for non-obvious mainstream films to avoid the direct to video approach and the more diversity in theaters the better for everyone.Jennifer Aniston stripper We're the Millers

4. We’re the Millers – $7.9 million [5th week; $116 million in total] This is going to come very close to overtaking “The Heat” as 2013’s top grossing comedy and without much in way of competition and a seeming stranglehold in the Top 5 for yet another week it may not be as difficult as I think for the Jason Sudeikis/Jennifer Aniston comedy.

Disney Enterprises DUSTY in "Planes."
Disney Enterprises
DUSTY in “Planes.”

5. Planes – $4 million [5th week; $80 million in total] – Of the five animated films released this summer, this arguably is the biggest surprise. You expected “Despicable Me 2” and “Monsters University” to do well, but Disney hedged its bets with “Planes,” originally slotting it as a direct to video release. The film has now beaten out “Turbo” and “Smurfs 2” and could conceivably catch “Epic’s” $107 million total before its run ends. Not bad for an also-ran, huh?