This post-Labor Day weekend, normally a graveyard for box office, with rare major new films opening among late-August holdovers, Vin Diesel’s “Riddick” posted a much bigger-than-usual gross. The top 10 took in around $63 million, low for most of the year but high for this weekend. Last year’s total was only $46 million.
This continues the recent trend of business rising over last year, and brings the year-to-date increase to about 1%, building on a summer that turned around a weak 2013. This week’s grosses were also aided by strong holdover showings of “The Butler” and “We’re the Millers” as well as the unexpected strength of “Instructions Not Included,” the Mexican comedy that doubled its screen count this weekend.
Sony brought back “This Is the End” in an attempt to get it to $100 million. It fell just short of the top 10, but its $2 million gross got it almost to $99 million, and they now look like the remaining dates could just about get to their goal.
1. Riddick (Universal) – Cinemascore: B: Criticwire: C+; Metacritic: 48
$18,700,000 in 3,107 theaters; PSA (per screen average): $; Cumulative: $18,700,000
Opening up on what is often the worst weekend of the year, Vin Diesel’s third go at the character first introduced in the sleeper success “Pitch Black” (2000) did better than 3/4s of the business of the sequel “Chronicles of Riddick.” That film though opened in prime June playtime in 2004. This gross, though not spectacular, ranks at the high end of post-Labor Day weekend’s (last year’s top gross was only $9 million, and “The Words,” a new release in 2,800 theaters, took in under $5 million).
Diesel was one of the producers for this $38 million production, the third go-round with director/writer David Twohy. With him anchoring the “Fast & Furious” series, it makes sense for Universal to take a chance in extending this series, with overseas grosses added to the domestic total likely making this a profitable venture ultimately.
What comes next: Still likely not quite enough to keep the franchise going.
2. Lee Daniels’ The Butler (Weinstein) Week 4 – Last weekend: #1
$8,900,000 (-40%) in theaters (unchanged); PSA: $2,673;; Cumulative: $91,901,000
After three weeks at #1 (the first in Weinstein and previous Miramax history), Lee Daniels’ film continues to thrive, and shows every sign of going much, much further before it is through. At this point it has become an event picture every bit as much as some of the equally big films showing with awards boosting their performance.
What comes next: This will be the first Weinstein film since “Inglourious Basterds” to reach $100 million to be released before the late-year Oscar parallel period, but looks to be a major contender despite that.
3. We’re the Millers (Warner Bros.) Week 5 – Last weekend: #2
$7,925,000 (-38%) in theaters (unchanged); PSA: $2,300; Cumulative: $123,844,000
An excellent post-holiday hold for this comedy which keeps drawing crowds in its second month of release.
What comes next: This looks like it’s heading for $150 million.
4. Instructions Not Included (Lionsgate) Week 2 – Last weekend: #5
$8,100,000 (+3) in 717 theaters (+369); PSA: $11,297; Cumulative: $20,312,000
Lionsgate doubled the theaters for this coproduction with Pantelion with the results still impressive (a great PSA) and already at a gross that suggests it has a chance to be the biggest-grossing Mexican film ever. Still concentrating on theaters in Latino areas, the high PSA suggests continued strong audience reaction (the top grossing theaters are in their second week) and the potential for this to stick around for a while
What comes next: Few successes this year will have as much of an impact as this, which will lead to an aggressive pursuit of Mexican talent to make films aimed at the Spanish-speaking market by companies other than Lionsgate.
5. Planes (Buena Vista) Week 5 – Last weekend: #4
$4,274,000 (-45%) in 3,033 theaters (-226); PSA: $; Cumulative: $79,279,000
Continuing its successful run, this lower budget Disney animated feature still has a shot at $100 million domestic and in its early stages overseas looks like it could equal that.
What comes next: The Disney name and similarity to “Cars” boosted this film’s credibility; studios will look at this as a model for animated success at a lower cost.
6. One Direction – This Is Us (Sony) Week 2 – Last weekend: #2
$4,100,000 (-74%) in theaters (unchanged); PSA: $1,499; Cumulative: $23,991,000
As expected, the action for this concert film was concentrated in its first weekend, with just late stragglers coming along at this point. Still, this will be a worldwide moneymaker for all involved.
What comes next: Good enough to encourage other groups to think about trying this.
7. Elysium (Sony) Week 5 – Last weekend: #6
$3,100,000 (-52%) in 2,241 theaters (-298); PSA: $1,383; Cumulative: $85,077,000
Taking a normal post-holiday drop, this continues to play well enough (including abroad) to have successfully overcome initial thoughts that this might not have a chance at profit. Though an expensive ($115 million) production, worldwide this will soar far past $200 million
What comes next: This still has Japan and other important international territories to open.
8. Blue Jasmine (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 7 – Last weekend: #11
$2,688,310 (33%-) in 1,069 theaters (-110); PSA: $2.515; Cumulative: $25,449,000
An excellent post-holiday hold for Woody Allen’s film, helped as well by owning the older audience market at the moment. This weekend indicates that this film isn’t going away anytime soon. It returned to the top 10 for its highest placement yet.
What comes next: At this point, a $40 million total now seems possible, and equally important for awards potential ahead, staying visible while competing films start gaining attention.
9. Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters (20th Century-Fox) Week 5 – Last weekend: #9
$2,500,000 (-44%) in 2,045 theaters (-348); PSA: $1,222; Cumulative: $59,848,000
This is up to around $150 million worldwide, about 2/3s so far of what “Percy Jacksons and the Olympians” amassed.
What comes next: Probably not quite enough to justify a third go-round.
10. The World’s End (Focus) Week 3 – Last weekend: #8
$2,302,000 (-54%) in 1,520 theaters (-33); PSA: $1,514; Cumulative: $21,737,000
Barely holding in the top 10, but doing well enough to look to be the top grossing film in the Edgar Wright/Simon Pegg trilogy that includes “Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz.” It also has topped “The Place Beyond the Pines” and “Admission” as Focus’ top film of the year.
What comes next: This didn’t break out much beyond its core audience, but is likely to have a long afterlife in home viewing like the previous films.