Vin Diesel’s ‘Riddick’ Subdues ‘The Butler’ at Box Office

Civil rights saga slips to second after three weeks in the top spot

Vin Diesel‘s sci-fi action movie “Riddick” is knocking “Lee Daniels‘ the Butler” out of the top spot at the weekend box office, ending the three-week run of the civil rights saga.

“Riddick” opened to $7.3 million Friday and should finish the three days with around $18 million. That’s in line with distributor Universal’s projections, but under some analysts’. It received a so-so “B” CinemaScore, so its chances of connecting beyond its base of sci-fi fans and Diesel’s followers appear limited, even though it’s the week’s only wide release.

It’s been nine years since the last film in the series, “The Chronicles of Riddick,” and “Riddick” won’t match the $24 million opening weekend of that one. “Chronicles” went on to take in $115 million worldwide but had a hefty $105 million production budget. Universal also distributed the first film in the series, the 2000 cult hit “Pitch Black,” which was Diesel’s breakout movie.

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The studio opted out after the second film, but Diesel secured the rights from Universal (in exchange for a cameo in “Fast and Furious”), sought out the financing to get the $38 million film made and dominates the screen as the intergalactic alien anti-hero. Universal came back on board to distribute.

“The Butler,” which stars Oprah Winfrey and Forest Whitaker, was in a tight race for second with another holdover, Jennifer Aniston‘s “We’re the Millers” Both the Weinstein Co.’s awards hopeful and Warner Bros.’ pot comedy took in $2.3 million Friday and are looking at a three-day total of just under $8 million.

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“The Butler” fell just 35 percent from last week, and is up to more than $85 million domestically in its fourth week. “We’re the Millers” was off just 27 percent and is now up to $116 million in its fifth week.

The Spanish-language comedy “Instructions Not Included” was running fourth. The family-angled “Instructions,” written, directed, produced by and starring Mexican TV star Eugenio Derbez, took in $1.6 million Friday and should finish the weekend at $6.6 million.

Lionsgate’s Pantelion Film expanded it into 717 theaters after its four-day $10 million debut on 347 screens last weekend, the biggest ever for a Spanish-language film. Its Friday total was off just 15 percent from last week’s, and only 41 percent at the locations at which it was already playing.

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Sony’s 3D concert movie “One Direction: This is Us,” which had the best three-day total over the long Labor Day weekend, took a tumble. Its $1.1 million Friday take represents an 85 percent drop from its nearly $9 million opening day last week, and puts it on pace for a three-day total of around $3.5 million

That probably won’t be enough to beat out Disney’s “Planes.” The family-targeting “Cars” spin-off brought in $893,000 Friday, but is expected to do better on Saturday and Sunday and should finish at roughly $4.3 million. After five weeks, its domestic total is $75 million.

The Weinstein Co.’s documentary “Salinger” got off to a strong start in a limited opening. It brought in $29,633 from two theaters in L.A. and two in New York on Friday. That’s a $7,408 per-theater average for Shane Salerno’s look at the reclusive author, the best of any film in release.