Our regular column returns this week with a look at fall's first official release: Vin Diesel's return as Riddick.
The film will mark Diesel's third turn as the title character since 2000's Pitch Black became a sleeper hit (mostly thanks to respectable after-market business on DVD and VHS--remember it?). Banking $39.2 million at the time (3.37 times its $11.6 million opening), the film inspired 2004's follow-up (The Chronicles of Riddick). This came in the wake of Diesel's rise to fame post-The Fast and the Furious and XXX. Unfortunately, Chronicles stalled any lucrative franchise birth with its disappointing $57.8 million domestic and $115.8 million global haul (after costing nearly $150 million to produce and market).
In the decade since, Diesel's career has rebounded thanks to the massive domestic and overseas success of three Fast & Furious pics. In kind, Universal is aiming to revive Diesel's would-be solo franchise again. How are fans responding to Riddick so far?
Our Twitter number-crunching (dating to one month out from release) is very encouraging. Riddick amassed a healthy 4,240 tweets during our tracking period. That's an impressive 49.1 percent ahead of recent late summer opener Elysium and 22.8 percent ahead of last year's Total Recall reboot. Comparisons also include:
- 603 percent ahead of Oblivion
- 73 percent ahead of Looper
- 51 percent behind Prometheus
Riddick's Facebook activity is also noteworthy. It boasts more than triple the number of fans as Prometheus did at the same point in its pre-release cycle, and that lead is even higher versus other comparison films. However, current activity is slow with only a 0.4 percent increase in the number of fans between August 9-13.
- 243 percent more fans than Elysium (+8 percent during same 5-day period)
- 711 percent more fans than Oblivion (+3 percent)
- 386 percent more fans than Looper (+46 percent)
- 679 percent more fans than Total Recall (2012) (+22 percent)
- 238 percent more fans than Prometheus (+2 percent)
Flixster continues the encouraging signs for Riddick. The film boasted a 98 percent "want to see" score from 39,120 voters (as of August 13). The next closest performers were Elysium with a 99 percent score among 37,810 voters, followed by Prometheus with 97 percent anticipating among 36,870 voters.
The long and short of it: Riddick seems to be generating respectable interest from its fan base. Diesel's return to the spotlight in the last few years is the biggest factor and could help position this new entry as a respectable performer come September. Being the only wide release scheduled for September 6 doesn't hurt matters either. Conversely, the weekend after Labor Day isn't known for producing big hits.
The BoxOffice team is currently forecasting a $25 million opening weekend and $60 million domestic haul for the flick. Those may represent modest numbers compared to the Chronicles predecessor that opened nine summers ago, but when considering the dormancy of the character it would be considered a "win" to perform at those levels (especially with its more reasonable budget, rumored to be around $50-60 million). Overseas potential is also considerably higher than it was at the time of previous Riddick entries. With the Fast movies being strong overseas performers, Diesel's return in Riddick is definitely a global strategy on the part of Universal.
Check BoxOffice in the coming weeks for our updated forecast and analysis on the film.
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The Riddick trailer: