Box Office Guru Wrapup: Riddick Rules Worst Weekend of 2013

The slowest box office session of the year was ruled by action star Vin Diesel whose latest testosterone sequel Riddick topped the charts opening to an estimated $18.7M. Universal averaged a decent $6,010 from 3,107 locations and generated a debut that was not very muscular, but not lousy either. Considering the weak marketplace and the glut of action titles over the past couple of months, it was a respectable launch.

The weekend after the Labor Day holiday is generally one of the weakest of the entire year as kids go back to school, a new football season begins giving extra competition to male-skewing films, and studios generally avoid opening anything big. The Top 20 slumped to $77M this weekend - the worst tally of 2013.

The R-rated Riddick was the third film of the sci-fi franchise and followed the last installment after a prolonged nine-year gap. The Chronicles of Riddick opened to $24.3M in June 2004 which was considered underwhelming at the time and ended off with $57.6M. As expected, the new Riddick played to a heavily male crowd as studio research showed that guys were 59% of the audience. 53% were age 30 or older and 69% were non-white.

Reviews were mixed but fairly good for a Vin Diesel-led sci-fi threequel. Audiences were only somewhat pleased with their ticket purchase as the CinemaScore grade was a lackluster B. The domestic gross should, however, end up north of its production cost of $38M and international potential is solid given the popularity of the star and the genre.

Following a three-week run at number one, the hit White House drama The Butler settled for second place with an estimated $8.9M, off a reasonable 40%. With a solid $91.9M after its fourth frame, The Weinstein Co. release should reach nine-digit territory next weekend.

Latino audiences powered the Spanish-language family comedy Instructions Not Included into third place with an estimated $8.1M in its second weekend rising two spots from last weekend's impressive debut. Lionsgate doubled the theater count going from 348 to 717 locations and saw the weekend gross inch up 3%. The distributor is expecting a slim 6% Saturday-to-Sunday decline based on historical comps. Other wide releases are forecasting drops between 35% and 50% for this weekend. Instructions did, however, enjoy the best Sunday boost in sales last weekend of all major pictures. With $20.3M in ten days, the PG-13 film should find its way to double that amount by the end of the run.

Off only 38% in its fifth weekend, the sleeper hit comedy We're the Millers grabbed another $7.9M, according to estimates, pushing the cume up to a remarkable $123.8M. A final near the $145M area is likely. Disney's animated entry Planes followed in fifth with an estimated $4.3M, down 45%, for a $79.3M total.

Teen girls abandoned the boy band doc One Direction: This Is Us which suffered the third worst sophomore drop of 2013. The Sony release grossed an estimated $4.1M tumbling by a massive 74%. The only films this year to collapse worse in the second weekend were the fright films Texas Chainsaw 3D and The Purge which both fell by 76% after opening at number one. One Direction has banked $24M to date and should end up with about $30M. Global total to date is $50M.

Sony stablemate Elysium declined by 52% to an estimated $3.1M for $85.1M thus far with the worldwide take now up to $212.2M. The studio's specialty division followed as Woody Allen's leggy indie hit Blue Jasmine continued to score with upscale adults collecting an estimated $2.7M, down only 33%. The Sony Classics release is now the veteran filmmaker's second highest-grossing film from the past quarter-century behind Midnight in Paris. A final in the $30-35M range is possible which is terrific for a low-budget specialty pic.

Taking ninth place was the effects-driven actioner Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters with an estimated $2.5M, down 44%, and $59.8M overall for Fox. Rounding out the end of the top ten list was the British comedy The World's End with an estimated $2.3M, off 54%, and a cume of $21.7M for Focus.

Sony expanded its doomsday comedy hit This Is The End putting it back into wide release in 2,161 locations and collected an extra $2M, according to estimates. That boosted the cume to within striking distance of the century mark at $98.9M. End earned strong reviews and enjoyed good legs, but opened head-to-head against Man of Steel in June so some of the target audience of young men may have missed it the first time around. Another week would put it over the $100M mark - a milestone that is more just for film industry bragging rights these days.

With the summer movie season now over, here are the top ten domestic blockbusters and their current grosses: Iron Man 3 ($408.9M), Despicable Me 2 ($357.5M), Man of Steel ($290.8M), Monsters University ($265M), Fast & Furious 6 ($238.7M), Star Trek Into Darkness ($228.8M), World War Z ($201.3M), The Heat ($157.5M), The Great Gatsby ($144.8M), and The Conjuring ($135.2M).

The top ten films grossed an estimated $62.6M which was up 34% from last year when The Possession stayed at number one with $9.3M; and up 3% from 2011 when Contagion opened in the top spot with $22.4M.

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