On what will likely be the quietest weekend of the year, sci-fi sequel Riddick easily took first place with $19.03 million.
The Top 12 earned an estimated $66.1 million, which is the lowest figure yet in 2013. Still, that's up 27 percent from last year, which makes this a decent start to the month of September.
Opening at 3,107 theaters, Riddick's $19.03 million debut is right in line with modest expectations. Adjusting for ticket price inflation, Riddick had slightly higher initial attendance than Pitch Black, but was way below 2004's The Chronicles of Riddick (which cost around three times as much). Otherwise, star Vin Diesel doesn't have a ton of movies to compare to, though it is worth noting that this opening is well above 2008's Babylon A.D. ($9.5 million).
With school and the NFL season getting underway, many people tend to stay away from movie theaters around this time of year. As a result, it has historically been a good idea to release movies that appeal to a very specific niche, and to market them directly at that group. Riddick is a perfect example of this: Universal Pictures targeted fans of Pitch Black and star Vin Diesel, and no one else really. In this case, that wound up being good for an opening over $19 million, which is a perfectly decent figure. Riddick's audience was 59 percent male and 53 percent over the age of 30. Also, 37 percent of the audience was Hispanic, which suggests that Diesel's presence was definitely a draw. The movie received a "B" CinemaScore; considering sci-fi movie tend to be very front-loaded anyway, it's unlikely that Riddick makes it past $50 million.
In its fourth weekend, Lee Daniels' The Butler fell 44 percent to an $8.4 million. To date, the historical drama has earned $91.4 million, and it will pass $100 million by next weekend.
After a surprisingly strong opening last weekend, Spanish-language family comedy Instructions Not Included expanded nationwide in to 717 theaters this weekend. As a result, it was up four percent to $8.15 million, which allowed it to move up to third place. Through 10 days in theaters, the movie has already grossed $20.4 million.
Rounding out the Top Five once again, Planes added $4.1 million for a new total of $79.1 million. This is a solid performer for Disney, who made the smart decision to schedule this as the last family movie of the Summer.
3D concert movie One Direction: This is Us plummeted 74 percent to $4.05 million this weekend. That's one of the steepest drops ever, though it is slightly better than that of the Jonas Brothers movie (77 percent). Still, Justin Bieber: Never Say Never only dipped 55 percent in its second weekend, so a terrible fall isn't a given for these concert flicks. To date, One Direction has earned $23.9 million, and it will likely wind up just over $30 million by the end of its run.
In an attempt to drift off the publicity from The Comedy Central Roast of James Franco, Sony re-released This is the End in to 2,161 theaters this weekend. That turned out to be a solid decision: the movie added $1.9 million for a new total of $98.85 million, and it now seems poised to pass $100 million by next weekend.
Opening at 412 theaters, The Ultimate Life grossed just $659,912 this weekend. That's a far-cry from past Christian movies like To Save a Life and The Grace Card, both of which opened over $1 million in around the same number of locations. Around-the-World Roundup
For the second straight week, Elysium led the way overseas with $21.2 million. Over half of that money came from China, where the movie opened in first place with $11.7 million (slightly above Oblivion's debut earlier this year). To date, Elysium has earned $127.1 million overseas, and still has openings in Brazil and Japan on the horizon.
Opening in five new major markets this weekend, White House Down added $12.6 million for a new total of $79.9 million. It took first place in Germany ($3.1 million), France ($2.01 million), Australia ($1.7 million), Mexico ($1.6 million) and Brazil ($1.5 million). With the exception of Australia, White House Down opened significantly higher than Olympus Has Fallen in each of those territories. One Direction: This is Us has now grossed $26 million overseas, which is more than Justin Bieber: Never Say Never made in its entire run.
Coinciding with its domestic debut, Riddick rolled in to 31 foreign markets this weekend and eanred an estimated $7.4 million. It had a solid $2.2 million start in the U.K. (including previews), and also debuted in Italy (a weak $721,000). The movie expands in to the rest of its markets through November.
Richard Curtis time travel romance About Time took first place in the U.K. with $2.2 million. The movie is set to be released by Universal Pictures in the U.S. in November, and will expand in to many other foreign territories between now and then.