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STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS Box Office: Solid or Disappointing?

Star Trek Into Darkness Chris Pine Captain Kirk Zachary Quinto SpockStar Trek Into Darkness box office: Solid or disappointing domestic debut? (Photo: Chris Pine as Captain Kirk and Zachary Quinto as Spock in Star Trek Into Darkness)

J.J. Abrams' Star Trek Into Darkness, starring Chris Pine as Captain Kirk and Zachary Quinto as Spock, has to date grossed $13.4 million in North America, including from 336 late-night Wednesday IMAX shows and all-day showtimes at 3,668 locations on Thursday. As explained by Ray Subers at Box Office Mojo, first-day figures may have been below par because Paramount Pictures changed Star Trek Into Darkness' release date last week — the Star Trek sequel was to have opened on Friday. (Addendum: Barring an unexpected Saturday and Sunday surge, "disappointing" is the word for Star Trek Into Darkness' domestic box office debut.)

For comparison's sake: With $11.53m on Thursday proper, Star Trek Into Darkness had the 11th biggest Thursday opening ever (not adjusted for inflation). Its Thursday debut, in fact, fell way below those of other May releases, e.g., George Lucas' Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith ($50.01 million in 2005), Andy and Lana Wachowski / Keanu Reeves' The Matrix Reloaded ($37.5 million in 2003), Lucas' Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones ($30.14 million in 2002), Steven Spielberg's Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull ($25.04 million in 2008), and even McG / Christian Bale's Terminator Salvation ($13.37 million in 2009) and David Fincher / Brad Pitt / Cate Blanchett's The Curious Case of Benjamin Button ($11.87m in 2008). Bear in mind that none of those movies was originally released in 3D — i.e., unlike Star Trek Into Darkness they didn't have the advantage of movie-ticket surcharges.

Opening-weekend box office: Star Trek Into Darkness vs. Star Trek

According to early, rough estimates found at Deadline.com, things have been looking up for Star Trek Into Darkness on Friday. The Star Trek sequel is expected to collect somewhere between $25-27 million today, which would translate into $80-90 million by Sunday evening, and a four-day cume ranging from $93-$103 million.

For comparison's sake, the original Star Trek reboot (in this case, we have an "original" reboot), without the assistance of 3D surcharges, collected $26.89 million on its opening Friday (not including Thursday night shows) — or approximately $28.5 million adjusted for inflation. Star Trek's opening weekend take was $79.2 million, or about $84 million today. Note: We're comparing oranges and tangerines here, as the original Star Trek opened on Friday.

In those early box office figures are on target, Star Trek Into Darkness will be having a good, though far from outstanding (considering it's a sequel, in 3D), opening weekend in North America. Whether the Star Trek sequel will ultimately be a box office hit depends on how it'll hold up next weekend, when Captain Kirk and Spock will face off against newcomers Fast & Furious 6 starring Dwayne Johnson, Paul Walker, and Vin Diesel, and The Hangover Part III, with Bradley Cooper and Zach Galifianakis.

Star Trek Into Darkness: International box office

Outside the U.S. and Canada, Star Trek Into Darkness is reportedly running 70 percent ahead of the original, having already grossed $47 million in seven territories: Mexico, the UK, Australia, Germany, New Zealand, Austria, and German-speaking Switzerland. Deadline.com reports that in Russia Star Trek Into Darkness took in $1.4 million on opening day this week — or about four times the amount earned by the original. And those figures help you understand why the Star Trek sequel was post-converted to 3D.

Unusual for a Hollywood blockbuster, the 2009 Star Trek earned less than half of its box office gross outside North America: $257.73 million in the U.S. and Canada vs. $127.95 million internationally. How come? Well, Star Trek is an American television cult phenomenon; it's considerably less popular elsewhere. Paramount had to do whatever it takes to bring in more — way more — international butts into theater seats for their $190 million-budgeted spectacle. If 3D is the bait, so be it.

The original Star Trek cumed at $385.68 million worldwide, having cost a reported $150 million.

Star Trek Into Darkness cast

Besides Chris Pine as Captain Kirk and Zachary Quinto as Spock, the Star Trek Into Darkness cast includes Benedict Cumberbatch, Bruce Greenwood, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, John Cho, Anton Yelchin, Peter Weller, Alice Eve, Noel Clarke, in addition to cameos by Chris Hemsworth and Leonard Nimoy.

Chris Pine as Captain Kirk and Zachary Quinto as Spock in Star Trek Into Darkness photo: Paramount Pictures.

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