Weekend Box Office: Star Trek Into Darkness Finishes Atop The Top 10, But Can’t Meet Heightened Expectations


Damn it, Jim. I’m a doctor, not a box office prognosticator.

If Dr. McCoy was a box office prognosticator maybe he could explain why Star Trek Into Darkness was unable to obtain a 4-day opening close to $100 million. One would think that after the success of 2009’s Star Trek, the combination of audience interest and added 3D surcharges would get the sequel close to that number. But that’s not the case at all. In fact, since its opening on Thursday, STID is about $2 million behind the 4-day performance of Star Trek.

While it seems like filmgoers and critics alike enjoy JJ Abrams’ take on the Star Trek mythos, industry expectations are that much higher nowadays when it comes to productions that cost in excess of $100 million-plus. Another downside was the vague marketing approach. It wasn’t John Carter bad in terms of getting people interested, but the advertising was all about the villain, played by Bennedict Cumberbatch, who is pretty much a nobody in the US when polling Joe Six Pack audience member.

As for the rest of the cast, they aren’t exactly lighting the box office on fire in terms of bankability. Granted, Chris Pine and Zoe Saldana are the only ones who have tried to flex some box office clout with mixed results. (Pine’s biggest hit came at the expense of starring opposite Denzel Washington in Unstoppable. As for Saldana, her biggest starring role was in Columbiana, a film that only grossed $36 million in the States.)

What I want to know is if Hollywood studios are that concerned if one of their properties underperforms in the US versus international returns. As we saw with the release of Iron Man 3 in foreign territories a week prior to its domestic bow, overseas numbers are getting insane. Multiple records were broken with the release of IM3 and those same records will probably be broken again with some movie called The Avengers 2 in 2015. The success of a franchise sequel overseas is a good indicator for a sequel or not. A Good Day to Die Hard may have cost $92 million (non-advertising costs) and made $67 million domestically, but it also tacked on another $236 million internationally. So it comes with no surprise that another DH is in the pipeline. The setting is set to be Tokyo with the working title Die Hardest.

I may have been off in my prediction that STID would make it to $100 million its opening weekend (it’s Friday-Sunday total was $70.5 million), I was closer with my prediction of IM3. I had it finishing with $38 million and it finished with $35 million. That’s a strong hold considering it was entering its third weekend at the box office and both it and STID were competing for similar audiences. At more than $1 billion worldwide, the Iron Man sequel shouldn’t have any problem being the first solo Marvel superhero film to surpass $400 million domestic.

The Great Gatsby, which recently opened the Cannes Film Festival, seems like one of those films that should have fallen hard its second weekend, but it’s been getting good word-of-mouth. I just found the movie to be o-k, but others I’ve talked to seem to have enjoyed it, music notwithstanding, more than me. Go figure. It’s well on its way to making $100 million domestic by Wednesday. It’s one of those strange counterprogramming films (It’s for the ladies, all right!) that’s good for audiences who don’t want to see superheroes or space operas.

Outside the top three, it was take what you can get for the rest of the films at the box office. $600k separates spots 5-9 on the list. The competition was that close. Pain & Gain and The Croods complete the top five. After two months in the top 10, The Croods will finally get competition in the form of another computer-animated family flick in Epic this coming weekend (coincidentally, both films are distributed by 20th Century Fox). Just below them is the Jackie Robinson biopic 42, now but a few swings away from $90 million.

Right outside of the top five is Tom Cruise’s Obilivion, the sci-fi release that was so close to making it $100 million domestic. Internationally, it will get a boost when it opens in the Japan market later this week. Mud continues to be one of those great little success stories in terms of sticking around in the top ten despite playing on less than 1000 screens. I guess for certain independent releases it pays to play against some of the heavy-hitting summer blockbusters in hopes of getting some spillover audience action. The Matthew McConaughey-starrer performed well enough to stay ahead of Tyler Perry’s Meet the Parents-produced rip-off Peeples and the disastrous wedding comedy The Big Wedding.

This weekend sees The Hangover Part III and Fast & Furious 6 squaring off against one another. Both were set to be released on May 24th, but Hangover III has sped up its release by one day and will make its bow on the 23rd. Their previous sequels opened with three-day totals of $85 million or better. But neither were competing for similar audiences. So it should be interesting to see which one ends up on top. My money’s on Fast & Furious 6 taking it Friday-Sunday.

Weekend Box-Office Top Ten for May 17 – May 19, 2013

1. Star Trek: Into Darkness (Paramount) – $70.5 MILLION

2. Iron Man 3 (Disney) – $35 MILLION ($337 mil. cume)

3. The Great Gatsby (Warner Bros.) – $23.4 MILLION ($90.1 mil. cume)

4. Pain & Gain (Paramount) – $3.1 MILLION ($46.5 mil. cume)

5. The Croods (Fox/DreamWorks Animation) – $2.75 MILLION ($176.7 mil. cume)

6. 42 (Warner Bros.) – $2.73 MILLION ($88.7 mil. cume)

7. Oblivion (Universal) – $2.22 MILLION ($85.5 mil. cume)

8. Mud (Roadside Attractions) – $2.16 MILLION ($11.5 mil. cume)

9. Tyler Perry Presents Peeples (Lionsgate) – $2.15 MILLION ($7.85 mil. cume)

10. The Big Wedding (Lionsgate) – $1.1 MILLION ($20.2 mil. cume)

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