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Riddick bumps Butler from No. 1

Posted: September 13, 2013 at 2:14 a.m.

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

Riddick, the only new movie in wide release, collected about $19 million to unseat The Butler, researcher Hollywood.com said. 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 studio had reached $1.31 billion in U.S. and Canadian theaters as of Sept. 5, ahead of Warner Bros.’ $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,” said Phil Contrino, chief analyst for BoxOffice.com. “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.

“Twohy has smartly gone back to genre basics with this installment, which serves as an effective reboot,” wrote Manohla Dargis in The NewYork 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 $787.5 million on a production budget estimated at $160 million before marketing costs. Studios split ticket revenue with exhibitors.

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, holding the top spot for three weeks.

Instructions Not Included, from Pantelion Films and Lions Gate Entertainment Corp., 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.

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 about $8 million.

MovieStyle, Pages 32 on 09/13/2013

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