Box Office Top 10 Film Film News

Box Office Decoded: Riddick Made the Most Money, But Instructions Not Included is the True Hit

To see older or more recent box office top 10 breakdowns please go here.

So, here’s what happened this weekend at the domestic box office: Riddick performed in line with modest expectations, doing well enough to finally bump Lee Daniels’ The Butler from the top of the chart.  Plus, Instructions Not Included continued its surprising run, foreign-language be damned, and One Direction: This Us plummeted.  In general, its a very weak market, as is to be expected pretty much every weekend throughout the month of September.  In fact, the performance of the top 12 films this weekend is the lowest combined gross for any weekend in 2013 to date.  However, on the plus side combined gross for the top 12 films this weekend was up 29% compared to the same weekend last year.   

Let’s break it down:

Top 10 Estimates for the 9/6-9/8 Weekend Box Office (Domestic)



1. Riddick (Opening Weekend)
  • Opening Weekend Gross=$18.6 million
  • Budget=$38 million

Foreign: $7.4 million in foreign gross from 31 foreign territories (most notably the U.K.) for a combined worldwide gross total of $26 million.

It’s September and the week after Labor Day, a.k.a., where box office performances go to die.  The most recent film in the franchise, Chronicles of Riddick, not only bombed to the tune of $115 million worldwide on a $105 million budget and was generally hated by most who saw it but also came out in 2004, i.e., nearly a decade ago.  So, Riddick appeared to be Vin Diesel’s attempt, who independently financed the film himself, to return the franchise to its Pitch Black roots with a modest $38 million budget and emphasis on an ensemble cast and general sci-fi horror film vibe as opposed to the sci-fi action insanity that was Chronicles.  The result is an opening weekend performance which falls right in-between the openings of Chronicles ($24.2 million in 2004, $31.9 million at 2013 ticket prices) and Pitch Black ($11.5 million in 2000, $17.5 million in 2013 ticket prices).  Of course, keep in mind that Chronicles was a big budget, heavily promoted film release in June, and Pitch Black full of mostly unknowns, even Vin Diesel at the time, put out in February and gaining its popularity mostly on home video.  So, this is a good opening considering the circumstances.  However, Riddick‘s Cinemascore of B indicates bad word of mouth.  As such, it seems highly likely that Riddick could suffer some huge drops in the coming weeks.  

2. Lee Daniels’ The Butler


  • Weekend Gross=$8.9 million
  • Total Gross to Date=$91.9 million
  • Budget=$30 million

Foreign: Not currently playing overseas.

It had to happen eventually, but, yes, The Butler is finally not the #1 movie at the box office.  Yes, in the actual Fri-Sun period last weekend it finished just behind One Direction, but in the four-day labor day period it was actually #1.  However, there’s no asterisk this weekend.  It simply got beat, easily, by Riddick, dropping 40% in its fourth weekend, its single largest such drop thus far.   The Weinstein Company could not have timed the release of this film any better, as even with weekend totals that were modest it was able to exert a relative stranglehold to the top due to an incredibly weak market with no competition.  They must have heavily studied the performance of the rather similar-themed The Help, a 2011 August release that grossed $124.2 million in its first four weekends.  In the same timespan, The Butler is at $91.9 million meaning, which is not nearly as good but still qualifies as triple its production budget and thus a huge hit.

3. Instructions Not Included


  • Weekend Gross=$8.1 million
  • Total Gross to Date=$20.3 million
  • Budget=N/A

Foreign: Not currently playing overseas.

Here’s how poorly most foreign language films play at the domestic market (we just hate subtitles, I guess): after grossing $20.3 million in just 10 days of release, the Spanish language Instructions Not Included (which has a Big Daddy-esque plot if the cute kid was a girl) is already the 10th highest grossing foreign language film since 1980, 16th after ticket price inflation adjustment.  Last weekend, it shocked most by opening at #4 on the charts despite playing on fewer than 400 screens, and it is now playing on 717 screens, which only barely qualifies as a wide release (the cut-off is 600).  That’s what makes its performance so impressive.  Based on per-screen-average, there has been no film over the past 10 days that has packed more people into its screenings as Instructions Not Included.   In fact, it’s per-screen average is so good its better than some of this summer’s big budget blockbusters.  Its $11,297 per-screen average in its second weekend of release is a higher second weekend per-screen average than Star Trek Into Darkness ($9,545 on 3900 screens),  Man of Steel ($9,814 on over 4000 screens), World War Z ($8,255 on 3600 screens), and The Wolverine ($5,434 on nearly 4000 screens).

4. We’re the Millers

We're the Millers Haan Aniston

  • Weekend Gross=$7.9 million
  • Total Gross to Date=$123.8 million
  • Budget=$37 million

Foreign:  $15.6 million in foreign gross this past week for a new foreign gross total of $55.1 million for a combined worldwide gross total of $178.9 million.

The little comedy that keeps on going, We’re the Millers, has now outgrossed the $117 million domestic total of Horrible Bosses, the prior Jason Sudeikis-Jennifer Aniston R-rated comedy distributed by Warner Bros/New Line Cinema.  It still has a ways to go to outgross it overseas, though, but it is doing pretty well in that department as well.  It’s no wonder that Warner Bros./New Line recently hired the guys from We’re the Millers to do the Horrible Bosses sequel.

5. Planes


  • Weekend Gross=$4.2 million
  • Total Gross to Date=$79.2 million
  • Budget=$50 million

Foreign: To date, $41.9 million in total foreign gross for combined worldwide gross total of $121.1 million.

Yeah, this kind of keeps refusing to fade away.  This is its third straight 3-day weekend at #5 on the chart.  However, it did drop 44.9% this past weekend, its highest drop to date.  So, actually, maybe it is finally starting to fade, but maintaining a decent chart position due to an incredibly weak market with no competition.  Its worldwide total of $121 million based off of its $50 million production budget should mean it has now become a profitable film for Disney, thus validating their pre-release decision to fast-track a sequel.      

6. One Direction: This is Us


  • Weekend Gross=$4.1 million
  • Total Gross to Date=$23.9 million
  • Budget=$10 million

Foreign: $11.1 million in foreign gross this past week for a new foreign gross total of $26 million and combined worldwide gross total of $49.9 million.

It’s a concert film/documentary about a manufactured boy band.  Clearly, it is going to play best opening weekend after which it will plummet with its core audience having already seen the film and any additional business coming from relative late-comers and repeat viewers.  Thus, is the fate of all concert films, right?  Actually, that seems more true than it actually is.  One Direction: This is Us danced its way to 74% drop in its second weekend, which actually qualifies as the second worst such drop among similar films, the 77% second weekend drop from the Jonas Brothers being the worst.  However, One Direction‘s victory came last weekend when it bucked recent trends and opened strong, challenging for the top of the box office chart (with the top of any chart being a familiar position for the band).  Everything after that is bonus, as its domestic and foreign totals already register it as a pretty big hit relative to its very modest budget.

7. Elyisum


  • Weekend Gross=$3.1 million
  • Total Gross to Date=$85 million
  • Budget=$115 million

Foreign: $21.2 million in foreign gross this past week for a new foreign gross total of $127.1 million and combined worldwide gross total of $212.1 million.

Elyisum is not going to reach $100 million domestic, and can be thought of as being among the big films this year to under-perform relative to budget and projections at the domestic market this summer.  However, also in keeping with trends of the summer this domestic disappointment continues absolutely killing it overseas, finishing as the highest combined foreign grossing film for the second weekend in a row.  Plus, it still has several major foreign markets to go meaning it will most likely at least end up doubling its production budget ($115 million) in worldwide gross.  At its current rate, it seems likely it will end with a domestic total similar if not slightly higher than Tom Cruise’ similar sci-fi action film Oblivion from earlier this year ($89 million total domestic), and its solid foreign total of $127.1 million is superior to director Neil Blomkamp’s District 9 ($95.1 million total foreign).  In fact, its worldwide total is already $2 million higher than District 9’s.  So, yet again, another domestic disappointment has been saved by the overseas markets.

8. Blue Jasmine


  • Weekend Gross=$2.6 million
  • Total Gross to Date=$25.4 million
  • Budget=N/A

Foreign:  As of now, information about foreign gross is not available

In actual dollars, Blue Jasmine is now the fifth-highest domestic grossing film of director Woody Allen’s career, having surpassed Vicky Christina Barcelona ($23.2 million) and Match Point ($23.1 million) this past week.  Of course, after ticket price inflation adjustments it only registers as #19 on that list, well behind the top tier of classics-that-were-also-huge-hits like Annie and Manhattan although just ahead of Purple Rose of Cairo.  However, the fact that it ended up back in the Top 10 this weekend after having dropped down to #12 in the three-day weekend last week is more an indictment of the weak market than it is a tribute to Blue Jasmine.  In fact, even though it fell out of the top 10 Jasmine was up 33% last weekend, and even though it re-entered the Top 10 it dropped nearly 33% this weekend.  So, don’t mistake its re-entry into the top 10 as being a sign of a boost in business.  It’s more that colossal bombs like Getaway and The Mortal Instruments graciously vacated their positions on the chart.  That being said, Blue Jasmine is still playing on fewer screens than every top 10 film except for Instructions Not Included, and continues to put up per-screen-averages that would rank it in the top 5 each week.

9. Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters


  • Weekend Gross=$2.5 million
  • Total Gross to Date=$59.8 million
  • Budget=$90 million

Foreign: $9.9 million foreign gross this past week for a new total foreign gross of $92.5 million and combined worldwide gross of $152.3 million.

Percentage wide, Sea of Monsters is performing almost exactly as the prior Percy Jackson film had, with a 61% foreign/39% domestic split.  Unfortunately, the actual money being made is not nearly as on par.  Sea of Monsters is currently at $59.8 million domestic /$92.5 million foreign, and appears to have no chance of coming close to matching the $88 million domestic/$137 million foreign split of Lightning Thief.  Not to state the obvious, but that’s obviously going in the wrong direction for this would-be film franchise.  There is still an audience, albeit a slightly smaller once, and its box office performance should not be completely knocked in light of fellow YA novel adaptation The Mortal Instruments reminding us what true failure looks like.  Even so, at this rate Sea of Monsters seems likely to need solid home video sales to reach profitability.

10. The World’s End


  • Weekend Gross=$2.3 million
  • Total Gross to Date=$21.7 million
  • Budget=$20 million

Foreign: It opened in 5 overseas markets in July, most notably the UK, and has only added France and Russia as new markets since its 8/23 domestic debut.  With that in mind, its total foreign gross to date is $16.9 million for a combined worldwide gross of $38.6 million.

It opened to fantastic reviews, a top 5 domestic gross with a top 2 per-screen-average, with the hope for a prolonged box office run carried by solid word of mouth.  However, at this point The World’s End has clearly been seen by the majority of the Simon Pegg-Nick Frost-Edgar Wright fans who are going to see it in theaters.  It dropped 42% last weekend, and 54% this weekend.  Considering that it’s still playing on roughly the same number of screens across that stretch, its saving grace can no longer be that it has a high per-screen-average as that is no longer true.  However, it will, at the very least, end up as the highest domestic grossing installment in the Three Flavors of Cornetto trilogy, already ahead of Shaun of the Dead ($13.5 million in  2004, $17.9 million after ticket price inflation) and poised to soon surpass Hot Fuzz ($23.6 million in 2007, $28 million after ticket price inflation).  Unfortunately, it is currently having to compete with the summer’s other apocalypse comedy This Is the End, which has been re-released by the studio in a last ditch effort to boost its domestic total to over $100 million (so far, so good; it made $2 million this weekend).


What Left the Top 10?

The Mortal Instruments and Getaway both left the top 10 for the first time, with Mortal Instruments currently standing at $36 million worldwide on a $60 million budget and Getaway at $8.6 million domestic on a $18 million budget.   

What’s Up Next?: 

The Robert De Niro action comedy The Family and Insidious: Chapter 2 both open on Friday (9/13), with Insidious seemingly poised to supplant Riddick atop the chart.

Oi, enough with the numbers already.

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