Vin Diesel's sci-fi vehicle "Riddick" is bringing crowds, albeit modest ones, into U.S. theaters on what is traditionally one of the slowest movie-going weekends of the year. The film took in an estimated $7.3 million on Friday and as the only major new release of the week will easily top the weekend box office.
"Riddick," the third entry in writer-director David Twohy's sci-fi series, was predicted to tally as much as $23 million this weekend. Yet the film's distributor, Universal Pictures, did not believe the movie will open with more than $20 million.
Diesel, 46, first appeared as antihero Riddick in 2000's "Pitch Black." The film collected a respectable $40 million in the U.S. and Canada and became a cult favorite. Four years later, however, "The Chronicles of Riddick" earned poor reviews and grossed just $57 million on a $105-million budget.
"Riddick" has thus far received a 59% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The Times found the alien-blasting action flick to be "extremely violent, cleverly managed fun" and concluded that fans should walk away pleased.
With "Riddick" expected to finish at No. 1, last week's leader "The Butler" will probably be pushed to the second slot. "The Butler" had led the domestic box office for three consecutive weeks. On Friday, "The Butler" brought in more than $2.3 million, narrowly leading the comedy "We're the Millers."
"The Butler," about a devoted White House employee played by Forest Whitakerwho served eight different presidents, has now grossed approximately $85.4 million since debuting in mid-August. "The Butler" last week was able to hold off a challenge from "One Direction: This Is Us," a 3-D concert documentary about the teen pop phenoms that took in a little less than $1.2 million on Friday.
The Spanish-language film "Instructions Not Included" is hoping to expand on its opening-weekend success. Playing in about 350 locations over theLabor Day holiday, the film collected a phenomenal $10.4 million during its first four days in theaters.
This weekend, the low-budget comedy, which features Mexican star Eugenio Derbez as a single father, has expanded to more than 700 cinemas and was expected to gross at least an additional $6 million.
On Friday it took in $1.6 million for the fourth spot behind "We're the Millers."
Times staff writer Amy Kaufman contributed to this report.