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Left for dead on a sun-scorched planet, Riddick finds himself up against an alien race of predators. Activating an emergency beacon alerts two ships: one carrying a new breed of mercenary, the other captained by a man from Riddick's past.
Despite this weekend's reputation of one of the slowest of the year, two openings managed to draw a crowd for their cult-status protagonists.
Riddick rules a slow weekend
Vin Deisel's latest in the "Chronicles of Riddick" sci-fi blockbuster series was able to bring moviegoers into theaters during what is an historically slow weekend at the box office, and that despite some pretty rotten reviews. This post-Labor Day weekend marks the week when most students return to school, and the beginning of NFL season keeps many moviegoers at home.
"Face it, this is never a great weekend," Universal's head of distribution told the Hollywood Reporter. "I was hoping Riddick would get to $20 million, but this is a great result."
Speaking on Friday's AirTalk, Filmweek commentator Henry Sheehan said he felt the movie was slow, confused, and "just not a good movie."
"It's a pretty dull two hours here. It's turgid. It's kind of mixed up," he said. "They do action when they might do a little exposition. They do exposition where they might do a little action."
Still, Riddick was able to pull in enough interest from fans of the sci-fi series to make it a good weekend. So says
"By Universal releasing a brand-new sci-fi movie with one of the biggest stars in the world, they took advantage of that and came out on top with the No. 1 movie. It gave the weekend a nice boost."
Salinger bio opens strong on coasts
A documentary look at the famously reclusive cult author J.D. Salinger also did well this weekend, despite a run in only a handful of theaters.
"Salinger" explores some of the lesser-known life of the author of "Catcher in the Rye." Filmweek's Lael Loewenstein said Friday she felt the film exposes a side of Salinger that few knew.
"What's remarkable about this film is that it does show parts of Salinger that I had never known before."
That may not be surprising, given his penchant for privacy,
The film looks at Salinger's service in World War 2, where he served as a counter-intelligence officer, and was one of the first to liberate the Nazi concentration camp of Dachau. Loewenstein said the film also looked at the author's troubled romantic history and his relationships with a number of young women, including a German woman who might or might not have been a former Nazi.
On its opening weekend at theaters in L.A. and New York theaters, "Salinger" did nearly as well as "Bully," which had a large grassroots promotional campaign behind it. Variety points out:
TWC's Salinger opened to a strong $90,969 from four theaters in New York and Los Angeles for a location average of $22,742 -- the best since The Bully nearly 18 months ago. Bully, likewise released by TWC, opened to $116,472 from six theaters for a location average of $23,294.
Here's Hollywood.com's list of this weekend's winners in North American theaters. Do you have any weekend films to recommend? Let us know in the comments!
1. "Riddick," $18.7 million.
2. "Lee Daniels' The Butler," $8.9 million.
3. "Instructions Not Included," $8.1 million.
4. "We're the Millers," $7.9 million.
5. "Planes," $4.3 million.
6. "One Direction: This Is Us," $4.1 million.
7. "Elysium," $3.1 million.
8. "Blue Jasmine," $2.7 million.
9. "Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters," $2.5 million.
10. "The World's End," $2.3 million.