Vin Deisel Riddick 2013

Sci-fi pic looks to be the first new entry to hit No. 1 in four weeks

Franchise Viagra is at it again, this weekend.

Vin Diesel — whose earlier summer series installment, “Fast and Furious 6,” became the third-highest grossing film so far this year — toplines this weekend’s only wide release, “Riddick,” which most pundits expect to earn $18 million-$20 million. Depending on Diesel’s pull with auds beyond just fanboys, however, the Universal-distributed film could see an opening as high as $30 million, according to some estimates.

Among the fall’s buzziest films, “Riddick” ranked sixth in social media mentions over the last two months, according to a proprietary survey for Variety done by market research firm Fizziology.

See also: Fall Movies: What’s Most Tweeted-About and What’s Most Challenging?

Regardless of online chit-chat, “Riddick” should have no difficulties winning the weekend, knocking the Weinstein Co.’s $82 million-grossing “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” from its three-week perch.

Diesel’s “Fast and Furious 6″ helped kick off the summer in high fashion, driving Memorial Day weekend box office to best-ever results. Now, the action star’s “Riddick,” the third installment in the Riddick chronicles, looks to launch the fall B.O. in line at least with last year, when “Resident Evil: Retribution” bowed with $21.1 million domestic.

Other than “Riddick,” which was independently financed for $38 million, the post-Labor Day frame has little else in the way of new offerings to tempt moviegoers.

In limited release, Weinstein debuts docu “Salinger” at four locations, along with French-language comedy “Populaire” at three.

Lionsgate, meanwhile, expands last weekend’s Latino-targeted hit “Instructions Not Included” to 717 engagements. The Pantelion film was a Labor Day surprise box office success, grossing $10.4 million (from 348 locations) in four days.

While Hispanic families turned out in force last weekend for “Instructions,” Universal says “Riddick” is tracking strongly with Latino and African-American men. Generally speaking, under-25 auds also should respond best to the R-rated sci-fi pic as they’ve been mostly underserved of late.

“Riddick” has received mixed reviews, though most refer to the pic as a solid return to form tonally for the franchise. And while these films generally are review proof, positive reviews for “Riddick” should help it even more so, since auds will want to know whether the three-quel is an improvement on 2004’s lambasted second installment, “The Chronicles of Riddick.”

Still, word-of-mouth will be the pic’s best asset.

“Riddick” bows day-and-date in 22 overseas markets, including the U.K., via local distribs.

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