As we approach the first weekend of Autumn, Riddick is set to dominate the post-Summer box office when it hits America tonight. Its competition: The Butler (been out for a month now), We’re The Millers (old news) and Instructions not Included (surely can’t repeat last week’s heroics). Bottom line: default win.

Watch the Riddick trailer here

It’s a savvy release date given that the headlines come Monday will go along the lines of: ‘Riddick comes out of the dark to take the Box Office’, conveying the appearance of success, but the Riddick films aren't exactly famous for their high-grossing abilities.

Pitch Black – having garnered a cult status of sorts – has managed $53m since it was released in 2000, thirteen years ago. The reviews were mixed up, and it managed 57% on Rotten Tomatoes. Critically, 2004’s The Chronicals of Riddick was worse, totting up a pathetic 24% on the review aggregator site. $115m in global ticket sales has saved it.

The answer becomes clear when you compare the films’ budgets: Pitch Black cost $23m while its follow up took things to $128m with a $105m cost. Now the $168m global gross doesn’t look so bad. Vin Diesel’s latest dig at the franchise – tonight’s Riddick – cost a staggering $38m to make; a remarkable achievement considering the look of the film.

Why do they keep making Riddick films? Because they’re cheap to make and they’re profitable. This weekend, despite scoring a 53% score on RT so far, Riddick will top the box office barring any huge surprises – a thunderstorm culminating in a nationwide blackout kind of surprise.

It would be lovely, romantic even, to say that Universal keep making these films to satisfy a minority of fans desperate to see their favourite bald-headed sci-fi hero works things out, but it seems as though they’ve stumbled upon a way to make a Hollywood film on a shoestring, and it’s difficult to see them stopping it now. Figures garnered from Box Office Mojo.

Vin Diesel
Vin Diesel stars as Riddick