It was a case of a star’s worth this weekend at the box office. Most know that the Fast & Furious series has been a cash cow for principal actors Vin Diesel and Paul Walker. They are a dynamite pairing. On their own the fan appreciation just isn’t there. Much like the stars of Twilight venturing outside the success of the films on their own they’ve discovered that finding an audience without the benefit of a major property or franchise is hard to achieve.
A year before Diesel did The Fast and the Furious he did a film called Pitch Black. A $23-million budgeted film that grossed more than $50 million worldwide, it would go on to become a bigger success on home video where it developed a cult following. A bigger-budgeted sequel would arrive in 2004 (The Chronicles of Riddick), but it barely broke even. Seven years and three F&F movies later, Diesel returns to the Riddick character having obtained full control of the property in exchange for his cameo appearance in F&F: Tokyo Drift. But again, Diesel is operating solo and there are no fast cars in sight.
As the only major Hollywood release, it’s not surprising that it would finish in first place, knocking Lee Daniels’ The Butler down to second. However, a $18.6 million opening for Diesel after the success of Fast & Furious 6 is soft nonetheless. It’s only $7 million better than Pitch Black‘s opening in Feb. 2000. The Chronicles of Riddick opened to the tune of $24.6 million back in the heart of summer 2004 (but it would get bumped out of first the following week by the $30 million opening of Dodgeball).
The Butler continues to ride the wave of critical and commercial success. After four weeks it has grossed $91.9 million. Another summer holdover that continues to perform admirably despite a less than admirable Rotten Tomatoes aggregate score is We’re the Millers. In its fifth week it is still in the top five taking in $7.9 million to bring its total to $123.8 million.
The big story at theaters continues to be the surprise success of Instructions Not Included. The Spanish-language dramedy opened last week in 348 theaters to an impressive $10 million. This weekend, distributor Lionsgate upped its theater count to 717 and the result was an $8.1 million weekend. With a per-theater average of $11,297 it also surpassed every other top 10 release, including first-place finisher Riddick. The only film it didn’t better was the four-screen release of documentary Salinger. It had a PTA of $22,750.
Other important Top 10 finishers include Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine earning $2.6 million. That was $300k better than Edgar Wright’s The World’s End, which crossed $20 million since its release in the US three weeks ago.
On tap for next weekend we have the releases of Insidious: Chapter 2 and The Family. James Wan looks to duplicate the success he had in the summer with The Conjuring. And Luc Besson looks to get back to action director roots, having spent most of the early part of the 21st century in a writing/producing capacity, though he did direct three animated Arthur and the Invisibles adventures as well as Angel-A and The Lady. But with The Family he looks to get the same audience that enjoyed seeing Liam Neeson in Taken. Well, casting Robert De Niro and Tommy Lee Jones in your movie is a step in the right direction to achieve similar demographics.
1. Riddick (Universal) – $18.6 MILLION
2. Lee Daniels’ The Butler (The Weinstein Company) – $8.9 MILLION ($91.9m cume)
3. Instructions Not Included (Lionsgate) – $8.1 MILLION ($20.3m cume)
4. We’re the Millers (Warner Bros.) – $7.9 MILLION ($123.8m cume)
5. Planes (Disney) – $4.2 MILLION ($79.2m cume)
6. One Direction: This Is Us (Sony Pictures) – $4.1 MILLION ($23.9m cume)
7. Elysium (Sony Pictures) – $3.1 MILLION $85m cume)
8. Blue Jasmine (Sony Pictures Classics) – $2.6 MILLION ($25.4m cume)
9. Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters (Fox) – $2.5 MILLION ($59.8m cume)
10. The World’s End (Focus Features) – $2.3 MILLION ($21.7m cume)