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.
According to Google's Trends data, Riddick is about neck and neck with the forthcoming biopic One Direction: This Is Us from Sony's (SONY 1.22%) TriStar Pictures:
Yet even that may be good news for Comcast's (CMCSA -2.73%) 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 (LGF-A -3.08%), which will distribute Riddick overseas. More than 41,000 surveyed at Rotten Tomatoes say they want to see the film.
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 (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.