It took an intergalactic saga to do it, but the surprise run of “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” atop the box office charts was stopped this week by the sci-fi sequel “Riddick.” Starring Vin Diesel returning to the role that first brought him wider fame, “Riddick” brought in an estimated $18.7 million.
“The Butler” had spent the previous three weeks as the box-office winner, and this week came in second place, bringing in an additional $8.9 million for a new total of nearly $92 million.
"Riddick" is the third live-action feature with Diesel as the character, and though the 2000 film “Pitch Black” was only somewhat of a modest success at the time, it built a reputation as a cult favorite in large part on the back of Diesel’s character. The 2004 sequel “The Chronicles of Riddick” was a box-office flop and so the series was put on the shelf.
“His audience, they adore him,” said Nikki Rocco, Universal’s president of domestic distribution on Diesel’s ongoing appeal. “I think he delivers to the action crowd.”
Written and directed by David Twohy, “Riddick” landed a Cinemascore of B, showing that while moviegoers may not have been entirely wowed, they were suitably entertained. Or, as critic Michael Phillips put it in The Times, “The audience comes away sated. In the 13 years since the first Riddick chronicle, Diesel has discovered what it means to be a certain kind of movie star, working hard but not too, serving material that, here, does what it's supposed to do.”
Diesel won back the rights to “Riddick” as part of his deal when he agreed to reprise his role from “The Fast and the Furious” for the sequel “Tokyo Drift.” In a recent interview with The Times, Diesel showed his business savvy when he said, "They gave me two franchises. One, 'Fast,' which they didn't think they'd ever produce again. And 'Riddick,' which they didn't want to produce ever again."
Third place for the weekend went to the Spanish-language film “Instructions Not Included,” which expanded to 717 screens in its second weekend to bring in an estimated $8.1 million for a new total of $20.3 million.
Warner Bros.’ “We’re the Millers” came in fourth place with an estimated $7.9 million, bringing its total to almost $124 million. “One Direction: This Is Us,” the documentary following the popular boy-band, rounded out the top five with $4.1 million, bringing its total in its second week to almost $24 million.
Follow Mark Olsen on Twitter: @IndieFocusCopyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun