Box Office Preview: Vin Diesel's 'Riddick' to Top More than 25 New Indie Films

3:06 PM PST 09/05/2013 by Pamela McClintock

Specialty offerings include "Salinger" and "Winnie Mandela," starring Jennifer Hudson and Terrence Howard; holdover hit "Lee Daniels' The Butler" should near $100 million in its fourth weekend.

TORONTO -- More than 25 specialty titles will open in limited runs at the U.S. box office this weekend, creating a veritable flood as the fall box office gets underway.

That leaves the path clear for Vin Diesel's Riddick to easily top the chart, considering it is the only new wide release of the frame. Universal is anticipating a debut in the $20 million-plus range, although most box office observers believe the threequel could hit $25 million, thanks to strong male attention.

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Lee Daniels' The Butler is expected to fall to No. 2 after becoming the first film of 2013 to come in No. 1 for three consecutive weekends. The Weinstein Co. pic has grossed an impressive $81.9 million to date.

Diesel now owns the rights to the character Riddick, an intergalactic ex-con who can see in the dark. Riddick was independently financed, with Universal picking up U.S. distribution rights. The studio also released the first two films in the franchise, Pitch Black (2000) and The Chronicles of Riddick (2004). Ted Field has produced all three movies.

In the latest outing, Riddick has been left for dead on a hostile planet and grows ever stronger as he fights off his enemies. The movie also stars Jordi Molla, Matt Nable, Katee Sackhoff, Dave Bautista, Bokeem Woodbine, Raoul Trujillo, Nolan Gerard Funk and Karl Urban.

Riddick opens in 22 international markets this weekend, including the U.K. and Hong Kong.

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Among the glut of specialty officers is Shane Salerno's Salinger, the documentary about author J. D. Salinger that made its world premiere last weekend at the Telluride Film Festival. The film, receiving mixed reviews, is opening in four theaters in New York and Los Angeles.

Salinger isn't the only new release from TWC. Harvey Weinstein's shop is also opening French film Populaire in select runs.

RLJ Entertainment is opening Winnie Mandela in select theaters. The biopic -- earning dismal reviews -- stars Jennifer Hudson and Terrence Howard.

Other specialty openers include Lynn Shelton's Touchy Feely from Magnolia and Millennium Entertainment's Hell Baby.

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