Sunday, 8 September 2013

U.S Box Office Report - 6th - 8th Sept 2013

1. Riddick - $18.6M -$18.6M
2. The Butler - $8.9M -$91.9M
3. Instructions Not Included- $8.1M - $20.3M
4. We're The Millers - $7.9M - $123.8M
5. Planes - $4.2M - $79.2M
6. One Direction: This Is Us - $4.1M - $23.9M
7. Elysium - $3.1M - $85M
8. Blus Jasmine - $2.6M - $25.4M
9. Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters- $4.3M - $14.7M
10. The World's End- $4.7M - $16.5M

Another relatively quiet weekend with just one major release, leaving the older pictures to battle it out amongst themselves. The One Direction movie was set to falter in its second frame as a result of heavy front loading over its first three days, while Lionsgate expanded the surprise hit, Instructions Not Included. Next weekend brings horror and comedy, while further ahead is the Hugh Jackman drama, Prisoners, along with Rush, the Ron Howard Formula 1 feature based on the rivalry between James Hunt and Niki Lauda.

The character of Riddick first appeared in the 2000 low budget cult hit, Pitch Black, which starred Vin Diesel as the titular anti-hero. Made for $23M, it went on to gross $39M in North America, before having a strong showing on DVD. It was the film that put the actor on the map, having previously only featured in a supporting role in Saving Private Ryan and as the voice of The Iron Giant (in terms of mainstream features). A year later his star power was cemented with The Fast & The Furious, the first film in a series whose sixth entry made $787M in the summer of 2013. A further franchise looked to be on the cards when Diesel took the lead role in spy thriller XXX. And even though it made an impressive $277M, he chose not to return for the sequel (he would not appear in Tokyo Drift in a major capacity either). In the meantime, there had been talk of expanding the Riddick universe, and in 2004, both the actor and writer/director David Twohy returned for the big budget Chronicles of Riddick. The film sought to explain some of the character's background, while building on the mythology. But with the increased budget ($105M) came a PG-13 rating, which some felt went against everything the violent character stood for. Opening the week after Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, it got off to a pretty decent start of $24M, but quickly vanished, leaving theatres with only $57M in total. A similar figure overseas did little to help matters, and Diesel's star power began to wane. He would make just three films over the next five years but talk of a second Riddick sequel refused to die.

During this time, the actor approached Universal with a view to buying the rights to the character and his universe, and while they didn't want to produce another feature, they also didn't want anyone else doing it either. However, in a twist of fate, he ended up getting a better deal on not one but two franchises. When Tokyo Drift tested poorly, the studio approached Diesel for a cameo role, offering him a producing gig (and script input) on any future F&F sequels, while sweetening the deal by offering him the same role on any potential Riddick movie. In the intervening years, like Twohy, he would mention in interviews that a third Riddick feature was in the early stages of development, and that it would be a low budget, Pitch Black-style production. A triumphant return to the Fast & Furious franchise in 2009 put both the actor and that series back on the map. By November of the same year, Twohy announced that the script for a new Riddick movie was complete and that pre-production would soon get underway. Yet it would take almost two years (and another smash hit Fast & Furious movie) before things actually started moving forward. While Universal were now happy to offload producing rights, they weren't interested in putting money into the feature. This resulted in Diesel raising some of the money himself by way of selling off the overseas distribution rights, along with putting his own cash into the production.

 The budget for what was now known simply as Riddick, came in at between $34-38M. The R-rating was also back in place, with all concerned promising a tighter, leaner flick more in line with the original film. In September 2011 it was announced that Karl Urban would return as Vaako. He'd be joined by Katie Sackhoff and Matt Nable, with a shooting start date set for January 2012. Even then, budget problems threatened to derail the picture, forcing Diesel to put up his house as collateral while things could be sorted out (funding was eventually secured, and Universal would step in to help too - though the size of the investment meant their own risks were limited). By April, post-production work was underway, but it would be almost a year before the first trailer would debut. The plot this time around would see Riddick left for dead on a desert planet, and soon discovering he had a huge bounty on his head. He finds himself forced into battle, before setting in motion a much bigger scheme of his own. With a quiet September release slot in place, not to mention that modest budget, Riddick would only need a half decent opening to see success. Furthermore, thanks to the huge popularity of the Fast & Furious series, Diesel was now a major player on the international market - a place that had become a whole new landscape since the 2004 sequel.

Opening on Friday, Riddick got off to an ok, if somewhat soft start, making $7.3M. In comparison, Chronicles made $9.8M, while Pitch Black scored $3.1M on their respective opening days. The picture added $7.2M on Saturday, and another $4.1M on Sunday, bringing its three day total to $18.6M (around $6M less than Chronicles). Were this a higher budgeted movie, this would certainly be a disappointing start, but by keeping things cheap, Riddick should be fine, even with this slightly underwhelming opening. Truth be told, this is probably around what all concerned were expecting anyway - as previous figures proved, the franchise was never a major money spinner. It'll go up against Insidious Chapter 2 next frame but with a half decent drop, Riddick should get some where close to its costs domestically. Overseas figures should prove interesting, especially with Diesel's Fast and Furious success. Ultimately the film will turn a profit, and if a further sequel can reign in the budget just as well, we may not have heard the last of Richard B. Riddick.

With a lack of major releases, the rest of the top ten still contains a number of older releases. Lee Daniel's The Butler performed the best of them, making another $8.9M this weekend. That brings its total to an impressive $91.9M, with $100M now assured. For a film which had struggled to raise its $25M production budget, this must be a sweet reward. It should see a few weeks more in the top ten, before raising its head once again around award's season time.

Thanks to some incredible word of mouth, backed up by its A+ Cinemascore, Instructions Not Included managed to move up to third place during the week even though it was on less than 350 screens. Knowing they had a good thing going on, Lionsgate expanded the film into a further 367 location and were rewarded with a $8.1M return (an increase of 3.2% on last weekend's haul). That gives the Spanish-language release about a man and his daughter facing up to the return of the child's birth mother, a running tally of $20.3M. Given that there are only two releases next frame, Instruction Not Included may well expand further.

In its fifth weekend on general release, comedy We're The Millers added $7.9M - a fall of only 38% on last weekend. The picture, which features Jennifer Aniston and Jason Sudekis was made for $37M and now sits on a domestic total of $123.8M. A strong finish of around $140-145M looks to be on the cards. Overseas it has already earnt over $40M.

Again, thanks to being the only family movie in wide release, Planes managed to make $4.2M this weekend, bringing its overall total to $79.2M. Chances are it won't be around to face the Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs sequel at the end of the month, but will still end up making around $90M come the end of its theatrical run.

One Direction: This Is Us may have opened quite well last weekend but before Saturday was out, it was already showing signs of major front-loading (it actually slipped down to fifth place on Sunday). While it had a decent Monday thanks to the Labour Day holiday (it made $2.2M), it had collapsed to $385K just two days later. On its second Friday the docu-concert movie made $1.1M, an horrific (and near unprecedented) fall of 87% on the same day last weekend. It could add only $3M over the remainder of the frame to bring its total to $4.1M. That means after ten days on release the picture has made $23.9M. While its fall was perhaps a little harder than expected, given its $10M production costs and a further $26M in takings from overseas, it should end up making a tidy profit for all concerned - and that's before it hits the home market.

Elysium dropped down to seventh place this weekend, making $3.1M. The Neill Blomkamp picture has now earnt $85M in North America, with another $100M overseas. Next up for star Matt Damon is a role in the ensemble drama The Monument Men, along with a turn in Terry Gilliam's The Zero Theorem.

Thanks to that lack of new releases, Woody Allen's well received drama, Blue Jasmine, which stars Cate Blanchett, managed to crash back into the top ten, earning $2.6M from just over a thousand theatres. It has so far made $25M and along with Midnight in Paris, Matchpoint and Vicky Christina Barcelona, is one of Allen's bigger releases in the last twenty five years.

The Percy Jackson sequel, Sea of Monsters hung in there for one more frame, adding $2.5M and pushing its total to just below $60M domestically. Overseas it is approaching $100M, which will save the $90M production from major financial disappointment.

Finally this weekend, Edgar Wright's The World's End, which stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, made $2.3M, giving it a running tally of $21.7M in North America. It will surpass the $23M made by Hot Fuzz thanks in part to its great word of mouth, but see little more. Abroad it has already made almost $20M, which is incidentally what it is said to have cost to produce.

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