No. 1 Star Trek Averts Darkness but Doesn’t Exactly Shine

Flight Two of the new Enterprise finished below expectations, while 'Iron Man 3' broke the billion-dollar worldwide threshold

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Zade Rosenthal / Paramount Pictrures

A sequel that’s not yet an equal, Star Trek Into Darkness won the weekend at the North American box office with $70.6 million, according to preliminary studio estimates. Opening on IMAX screens Wednesday evening, and in all other theaters the next day, STID pulled $84.1 million through Sunday. Iron Man 3 dropped to second place, with $35.2 million, after two weeks at No. 1, and The Great Gatsby was third, amassing $23.2 million in its second frame.

STID, the second chapter in director J.J. Abrams’ reboot of the venerable TV series, rang up the year’s third highest opening weekend, after IM3’s $174.1 million and Oz the Great and Powerful’s $79.1 million. That, and a pearly A rating from the CinemaScore survey of early attendees, should be stoking cheers of “Beam us up, J.J.!” at Paramount Pictures. But the Viacom subsidiary may need a little Viagra: the Paramounties were hoping out loud for a $100 million five-day launch.

(MORE: Corliss Reviews Star Trek Into Darkness)

The 2009 picture, called plain old Star Trek, took in $75.2 million for the weekend, $79.2 million for four days (including Thursday-midnight shows) and $86.7 million through its fifth day (Monday). So STID lags behind its predecessor in domestic revenue and, because of higher prices and 3-D and IMAX surcharges, far below it in tickets sold. Given the $190 million budget, Paramount needs a jolt of cash from somewhere to make a profit on its latest Enterprise.

(MORE: Is Star Trek Into Darkness Too Dark?)

That somewhere could — we say could – be the foreign market. Almost uniquely among big Hollywood action-film franchises, Star Trek hasn’t seduced viewers abroad. The most successful movies tend to make about two-thirds of their worldwide take overseas. Yet dating back to Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country in 1991, none of the films spawned by Gene Roddenberry’s ’60s TV series has earned as much as 40% of its global gross in foreign theaters. Abrams’ first Star Trek cruised at warp speed through U.S. and Canadian theaters, with a $257.7 million payload, but it crash-landed elsewhere, with just $128 million, or 33% of the $385.7 million worldwide total.

(MORE: Q&A With Star Trek’s Simon Pegg)

Will STID be able to alter that costly course? Last weekend, after a campaign targeting European and Asian audiences, the movie pulled in a very promising $31 million in seven foreign markets. This weekend it added $40 million in 41 territories. The overseas tally so far is about $80.5 million, nearly half of the $164.2 million worldwide gross, with such large markets as China, Russia and much of Western Europe and South America still to open. That’s a good sign that the international booster rockets are firing full force.

(MORE: 47 Years of Star Trek Starship Designs)

At home, STID’s reign at the top of the pops will be brief. Three big pictures — (Fast &) Furious 6, The Hangover Part III and the Blue Sky animated feature Epic — open this Memorial Day weekend. Any or all of them could finish ahead of Kirk and Spock. And abroad, Abrams’ film is already facing stiff challenges. That $40 million foreign take was a shade less than the $40.2 million earned by IM3, which passed the billion-dollar worldwide threshold today (its 24th day of international release) and earned 67.5% of that abroad — the way a blockbuster should.

(MORE: How Iron Man 3 Conquered the World)

Gatsby, whose opening-night slot at the Cannes Film Festival garnered it a continent’s worth of free publicity, scored an even bigger weekend: $42.1 million in 50 foreign markets. Director Baz Luhrmann’s films typically do 70% or more of their business outside North America; and Leonardo DiCaprio is a marquee star in any language. The Gatsby gamble may have as good a chance as STID of breaking through the darkness and into the black.

(MORE: Corliss Reviews The Great Gatsby)

Among specialty films, Noah Baumbach’s Frances Ha, starring and co-written by indie darling Greta Gerwig, opened in four theaters to a ha-mungous $134,000, or $33,500 per screen. Derek Cianfrance’s indie-ish The Place Beyond the Pines, with ex-aequo hunks Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper, passed the $20 million mark in its seventh week; and Jeff Nichols’ Mud, starring Matthew McConaughey and Reese Witherspoon, made the top 10 for its third week in a row. It has now earned $11.6 million without yet landing in as many as 1,000 theaters. That’s not exactly Iron Man, but it ain’t mud either.

(MORE: Mary Pols’ Review of Frances Ha)

Here are the Sunday estimates of this weekend’s top-grossing pictures in North American theaters, as reported by Box Office Mojo:

1. Star Trek Into Darkness, $70.6 million, first weekend; $84.1 million, first five days
2. Iron Man 3, $35.2 million; $337.1 million, third week
3. The Great Gatsby, $23.4 million; $90.2 million, second week
4. Pain & Gain, $3.1 million; $46.6 million, fourth week
5. The Croods, $2.75 million; $176.75 million, ninth week
6. 42, $2.73 million; $88.7 million, sixth week
7. Oblivion, $2.22 million; $85.5 million, fifth week
8. Mud, $2.16 million; $11.6 million, fourth week
9. Tyler Perry Presents Peeples, $2.15 million; $7.9 million, second week
10. The Big Wedding, $1.1 million; $20.2 million, fourth week

2 comments
tom.litton
tom.litton

All i've got to say about into darkness is:  Why design a space ship to go under water?  Not only do you have to reinforce the bulk head to withstand water pressures (which adds extra weight and therefore makes it significantly efficient to fly, especially in a gravity well), but it also means you have to water proof all external components and design them to withstand water pressures.  Why go through the extra head ache?

DwDunphy
DwDunphy

If Into Darkness fails (and it still makes one a little ill to consider a multimillion dollar weekend a failure), it will be blamed because (SPOILER) 



(NO SERIOUSLY...SPOILER)


Paramount allowed the one film of the series that is considered the greatest of them all to be watered down by this revision of the Khan character. Sure, Ricardo Montalban was hardly a Sikh, and Benedict Cumberbatch is a very good actor, but the fact that against the desires of the committed fanbase J.J. Abrams and Co. still screwed around with the Khan material cannot sit well. With all the possible baddies to pick from, they took the one people wanted least-mucked-with, proving the inherent laziness of modern Hollywood yet again.