Post-Labor Day, kids are returning to school and the deliciousness of popping into an icy, air-conditioned theatre during the summer has dissipated. September is often a dead period at the box office, but this year there appear to be more appealing options than usual, both on the genre end (Insidious: Chapter 2) and movies with a sheen of quality--and maybe even awards seekers (Rush). This weekend, there's just one wide release, Riddick (3,107 theatres).
Given that Riddick is the third film in an action-dominated series by Vin Diesel, who isn't exactly a critical darling, and the previous installment was a box-office flop, it says something that the Tomatometer currently stands at 58%--for a movie like this, it's practically a big thumbs up. Performance-wise, Riddick should benefit from being a fresh offering in a wide-open space. Less competition will also help returning films, which should expect smaller-than-average decreases. In particular, The Butler should hold strong. Pantelion's Spanish-language hit from last week, Instructions Not Included, is doubling the number of locations in release, upping the screen count to 717. The sweet family-centered comedy should do at least as well as last week, when it surprised the industry by debuting to $10.3 million.
With just one wide release, almost two dozen indies crowded into the seemingly vacant release slate. The largest of them is The Ultimate Life (412 theatres), a faith-based movie that could cross $1 million. For those interested in seeing a bit of sinning, there's A Teacher, a nail-biting, performance-focused indie about the illicit relationship between a teacher and her student. Bibliophiles can buy a ticket to Salinger (4 theatres), a documentary about the reclusive author of The Catcher in the Rye. For wannabe oenophiles curious about the wine market (the surprise is that Chinese have priced everyone out of the best French wine), there's Red Obsession. Or learn about recent activism with 99%: The Occupy Wall Street Collaborative Film. Then there's the frothy (but disappointing,) Populaire, a 50s-set French romantic comedy about a competitive typist. With such a crowded market of indies, it will be interesting to see which ones can turn out theatrical audiences, and which ones will quickly scurry (if they aren't there already) to VOD.
On Monday, we'll see if Riddick indeed tops the box office, and where the rest of the field ends up.