Will Comcast Profit From "Riddick"?

For Vin Diesel's Riddick, which comes to box offices next weekend, monsters and mercs aren't a problem. But a boy band? That's a different story entirely.

Vin Diesel returns in the title role in Riddick. Source: Universal Pictures.

According to Google's Trends data, Riddick is about neck and neck with the forthcoming biopic One Direction: This Is Us from Sony's (NYSE: SNE  ) TriStar Pictures:

Source: Google.

Yet even that may be good news for Comcast's (NASDAQ: CMCSA  ) Universal Pictures, which lost big on the last film in the Riddick series: 2004's The Chronicles of Riddick. That film earned just $115.7 million worldwide on a $105 million production budget.

Hollywood economics says a film needs to generate double its production budget in box office ticket sales in order to be profitable. Universal budgeted just $60 million for Riddick, increasing the odds of Comcast earning back its investment this time around.

We've seen it happen before. Pitch Black, the first film in the series, earned $53 million on a $23 million budget, Box Office Mojo reports. Low-budget horror films -- Riddick is sci-fi horror -- tend to produce huge profits for studios such as Lions Gate (NYSE: LGF  ) , which will distribute Riddick overseas. More than 41,000 surveyed at Rotten Tomatoes say they want to see the film.

Riddick opens on September 6 in U.S. theaters. Sources: YouTube, Universal Pictures.

Meanwhile, Comcast's profit picture is looking sharper thanks to Universal's surprising portfolio of 2013 theatrical winners. Box Office Mojo says the studio ranks second behind Time Warner (NYSE: TWX  ) in U.S. grosses so far this year. Investors can thank Despicable Me 2 and another Diesel film, Fast & Furious 6.

Adding Riddick to the blockbuster list seems unlikely. But with a meager budget, a big-name actor in the title role, and plenty of positive buzz, it won't need to do much to spice up Comcast's profit party.

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