LOS ANGELES - "Riddick" is seeing light at the box office.
The sci-fi thriller starring Vin Diesel as an intergalactic criminal with built-in night vision debuted in first place with $18.7 million, according to studio estimates Sunday. "Riddick" is the third installment in the series, following the $11.6 million debut of 2000's "Pitch Black" and the $24.3 million launch of 2004's "The Chronicles of Riddick."
"Riddick," which finds the alien anti-hero stranded and pursued by bounty hunters on a hostile world, served as a passion project for Diesel and series writer-director David Twohy. After the studio originally passed on funding a third chapter, the pair acquired the rights to the character from Universal and independently secured their own film financing.
"I don't think there were any mistakes made here," said Nikki Rocco, head of distribution for Universal. "Riddick" in North America. "Vin wanted to do it. He had to do it on his time. He was very, very busy with `Fast & Furious,' and I think everything came together as he wanted it to come together."
"Lee Daniels' The Butler" fell to second place with $8.9 million, bringing its total domestic haul to $91.9 million.
1. "Riddick," $18.7 million.
2. "Lee Daniels' The Butler," $8.9 million.
3. "Instructions Not Included," $8.1 million.