Star Trek knocks Iron Man 3 off No 1

2013-05-20 13:44
Los Angeles - Star Trek: Into Darkness has warped its way to a $70.6m domestic launch from Friday to Sunday, though it's not setting any light-speed records with a debut that's lower than the studio's expectations.

The latest voyage of the starship Enterprise fell short of its predecessor, 2009's Star Trek, which opened with $75.2m.

Since premiering on Wednesday in huge-screen IMAX theatres and expanding on Thursday to general cinemas, Into Darkness has pulled in $84.1m, well below distributor Paramount's initial forecast of $100m. The film added $40m overseas, pushing its total to $80.5m since it began rolling out internationally a week earlier.

The Star Trek sequel bumped Iron Man 3 down to second place after two weekends on top. Robert Downey Jr's superhero saga took in $35.2m domestically to lift its receipts to $337.1m. Overseas, Iron Man 3 added $40.2m, raising its international total to $736.2m and its worldwide tally to nearly $1.1bn.

Bigger, better sequels

While Iron Man 3 and Into Darkness did well overseas, they were outmatched by the debut of Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby, which followed its domestic debut a week earlier with a wide rollout internationally. Gatsby pulled in $42.1m overseas, coming in a bit ahead of both Iron Man 3 and Into Darkness.

Domestically, Gatsby held up well at No 3 with $23.4m, lifting its total to $90.2m.

In today's Hollywood of bigger, better sequels, follow-up films often outdo the box office of their predecessors, as each Iron Man sequel has done. While Into Darkness earned good reviews and is getting strong word-of-mouth from fans, the film did not quite measure up to the opening weekend of director JJ Abrams' Star Trek reboot from four years ago, at least domestically.

"Star Trek remains a fan-boy movie. It doesn't seem to have the same kind of cross-over appeal as say an Iron Man or some of these others," said Paul Dergarabedian, an analyst for box-office tracker "It's a very specific brand, but I think the general public would love this movie, because it's such an action movie. But to get a hundred-million-plus opening weekend, unless you're Twilight, you really have to cross over to all audiences."

'It's a unique franchise'

Paramount points out that overseas business is up in many markets, though, so worldwide, the sequel is off to a better start.

"Because of the nature of the franchise, because of how many movies have been made and the various forms of the TV shows, I'm not sure that Star Trek goes by the rules of normal sequels. I think each movie stands on its own, because it's a unique franchise," said Don Harris, Paramount's head of distribution. "My goal was always that we grow the franchise. We're clearly seeing by today's numbers that the movie is being embraced on a worldwide basis in a way we've never seen before."

Harris said that domestically, Into Darkness finished its first weekend 6% ahead of revenues for 2009's Star Trek, which got a head-start with $4m in Thursday night previews to give it a $79.2m haul through the first Sunday.

But Into Darkness had a full day of screenings Thursday plus its Wednesday IMAX business. Unlike the first movie, which played only in 2-D, the sequel also had the benefit of 3-D screenings that cost a few dollars more. Yet even with the 3D upcharge and the earlier debut, it came away with just $4.9m more than its predecessor through Sunday.

Still, it's a solid starting place for the movie to live long and prosper at theaters, with Paramount hoping "Into Darkness" can surpass the $385 million worldwide total of "Star Trek."

"I think we're well along on that road," Harris said.