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‘Star Trek: Into Darkness’: Highly Disappointing Debut?

J.J. AbramsStar Trek: Into Darkness, featuring Chris Pine as Captain Kirk, Zachary Quinto as Spock, and Benedict Cumberbatch as Khan, took in an estimated $22 million at 3,668 North American venues on Friday, according to studio figures found at Boxofficemojo.com. Is that good or bad? Well, let’s just say that this weekend Star Trek: Into Darkness should end up collecting approximately $20-28 million less at the domestic box office than early estimates indicated.

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

Star Trek: Into Darkness will likely gross at most $83-85 million by Sunday evening, and $70-72 million over the three-day weekend. Paramount is, with fingers crossed, hoping for those figures. A more likely scenario, however, would be approximately $62-66 million over the weekend, for a four-day cume of $75-79 million. (Update: Paramount was lucky – in case their weekend estimates are accurate: $70.55 million, and $84.09 million for the four-day run.)

Last night, we were wondering if the Star Trek sequel would have a solid or a disappointing opening; considering the film’s inflated early estimates, “solid but hardly outstanding” seemed to be the right assessment. Now, if the current estimates are on target, a more accurate assessment of Star Trek: Into Darkness’ performance at the domestic box office would be “downright disappointing.”

For comparison’s sake: without the assistance of 3D surcharges, the opening-weekend gross of the 2009 Star Trek reboot was $79.2 million, or about $84 million today. In other words, even including late Wednesday and all-day Thursday screenings and extra IMAX locations and 3D, there’s a good chance Star Trek: Into Darkness will trail the “original.”

It gets a tad more worrisome: The Star Trek reboot cost $150 million, whereas the sequel has a heftier $190 million price tag (not including marketing and distribution costs). And next weekend, Star Trek: Into Darkness will have strong competition for box office dollars from two newcomers: Justin Lin’s Fast & Furious 6 starring Dwayne Johnson, Paul Walker, and Vin Diesel, and Todd Phillips’ The Hangover Part III, with Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, and Justin Bartha.

Star Trek: Into Darkness: International box office

The Silver Lining for both Star Trek: Into Darkness and Paramount is, as usual, the international market. This past week, J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek sequel was reportedly running about 70 percent ahead of the original in seven territories: Mexico, Germany, New Zealand, the UK, Australia, Austria, and German-speaking Switzerland. According to Deadline.com, Star Trek: Into Darkness is expected to bring in $9m in Russia this weekend, against $2m for the original film. This weekend’s international box office total is expected to reach $35 million, with a number of key markets yet to be visited by the Enterprise.

Those rosier figures help you to understand why the Star Trek sequel was post-converted to 3D. After all, unlike most other Hollywood blockbusters, the 2009 Star Trek earned less than half of its box office gross outside North America: $257.73 million domestically vs. $127.95 million internationally. Why? The likely explanation is that Star Trek is a cult phenomenon in the United States, but way less so elsewhere. Paramount had to lure more – way more – international moviegoers to their $190 million-budgeted sci-fi extravaganza. If 3D was going to be the most effective bait, then the studio was right to add another dimension to Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, and Benedict Cumberbatch.

The original Star Trek cumed at $385.68 million worldwide.

Official weekend box office estimates come out on Sunday morning. Weekend box office actuals will be released on Monday.

Star Trek: Into Darkness cast

In addition to Chris Pine as Captain Kirk and Zachary Quinto as Spock, the Star Trek: Into Darkness cast includes Benedict Cumberbatch (as a less campy version of Ricardo Montalban’s Khan), Bruce Greenwood, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, Anton Yelchin, Peter Weller, Simon Pegg, John Cho, Alice Eve, Noel Clarke, plus cameos by Thor: The Dark World‘s Chris Hemsworth and the Star Trek television series’ Leonard Nimoy.

Benedict Cumberbatch as Khan in Star Trek: Into Darkness photo: Paramount Pictures.

May 17

Star Trek: Into Darkness Chris Pine Captain Kirk Zachary Quinto SpockStar Trek: Into Darkness box office: Solid or disappointing domestic debut? (Image: 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.

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 LucasStar 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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4 comments

Kathy Roe -

It opened on graduation weekend. Bad time to open but it will gain momentum.

Reply
JW -

Not to say that Cumberbatch is a huge star or the only draw in Russian market, but you only have to google some Russian Sherlock/ Cumberbatch fan sites on LJ, Tumblr and other social media, you’ll know that he has a healthy fanbase in Russia since 2010; way back in 2011 when Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy was released in Russia, he is already one of the selling points for that film judging by the credit card on the movie’s poster as the local distributor replaced a few British actors with Russian actors who are in that movie for the local market draw, but Cumberbatch’s name was still on the poster.

That being said, having some fanbases in Japan or Russia doesn’t make him the ONLY and MAJOR reason for the movie’s better performances in the international market, it’s still mostly about the product itself and whether they have solid local marketing campaigns, there are one or two full-of-self Cumberbatch fans who have very little idea about the marketing but like to gush about some misinformed idea on the internet , and that’s not helping him at all; actually they make me wonder if Cumberbatch really needs enemies if he he’s got fans like those.

Reply
nata -

Cumberbatch has no fanbase in Russia at all though. Don’t confuse it with Asia. And the movie itself hasn’t done any better than the first one so far and may in fact do worse overall.

Reply
helen -

I would say that Cumberbatch is the deciding factor for why its doing better outside of the US.

He isnt known at all in the US so the draw in that market was for Pine and Quinto. Outside of the US Cumberbatch has a strong fanbase in a number of markets. e.g Japan and Russia.

Paramount forgot to tell its US audience that it was opening earlier there than originally planned which is unforgivable.

Paramount should have made a big plus of it being Khan in the film and given Cumberbatch some PR in the states. Pine and Quinto just arent box office draws.

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