'Star Trek Beyond' Beams Into Theaters Alongside 'Ice Age 5' and 'Lights Out'
SATURDAY AM UPDATE: Star Trek Beyond topped the Friday box office with an estimated $22.5 million with Paramount anticipating a $60 million three-day opening weekend, though it seems most likely it will end closer to $56-58 million. Reviews for the third Trek installment have been strong and that was also reflected in the "A-" CinemaScore the film received from opening day audiences, which could give the film a boost over Saturday and Sunday.

Warner Bros and New Line have scored a victory with the PG-13 thriller Lights Out, which delivered an estimated $9.15 million on Friday, heading toward a $20+ million weekend. In fact, it may be up to the weekend's other new wide release, Ice Age: Collision Course to determine whether the weekend sees the top five films all gross over $20 million. Lights Out wasn't expected to pop quite as high as it's looking to, but the fifth Ice Age installment was looking to at least hit around $25 million, but they may now be in jeopardy after a soft start as it pulled in just $7.8 million on Friday, heading toward an opening weekend right around $20 million.

Elsewhere, Quality Flix's expansion of Dinesh D'Souza's Hillary's America into over 1,200 theaters delivered as expected, bringing in an estimated $1.36 million on Friday heading toward a weekend right around $3.5-4 million.

You can check out our chart of Friday estimates here and we'll be back tomorrow with a full recap of the weekend.

FRIDAY AM UPDATE: Star Trek Beyond topped Thursday night previews with a solid $5.5 million from 3,100 locations. For comparison, Ant-Man brought in $6.4 million in mid-July last year and opened with $57.2 million, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles brought in $4.6 million in early August 2014 and opened with $65.5 million and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes brought in $4.1 million and went on to open with $72.6 million. All told, this is a preview number that really doesn't give us any clear signal as to how the film will perform this weekend, but it is more than the $2 million Star Trek Into Darkness brought in from 336 IMAX previews on Wednesday and more than the $4 million Star Trek delivered from Thursday previews back in 2009. Both sequels went on to gross more than $70 million on opening weekend.

Fox started Thursday previews for Ice Age: Collision Course at 5PM and the film brought in $850,000 from 2,804 theaters. The closest comparison is the $800,000 The Angry Birds Movie brought in on Thursday night earlier this year before it opened with $38.1 million.

Finally, New Line's Lights Out brought in $1.8 million, the same as what 10 Cloverfield Lane brought in on Thursday night earlier this year before opening with $24.7 million. For additional comparisons. Insidious: Chapter 2 and Insidious: Chapter 3 both brought in right around $1.5 million on Thursday night and opened with $40.2 million and $22.6 million respectively. While that may be a large gap between the two openings it does toward suggesting Lights Out could deliver a $20+ million weekend. Working against that theory is the $1.5 million The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death delivered on Thursday night before opening with $15 million, but that is more the exception than the rule for films with this kind of Thursday performance.

We'll update this post tomorrow morning with Friday estimates. You can read this weekend's preview below.

WEEKEND PREVIEW: Two more sequels arrive this weekend and, like several sequels this year, both are looking to underperform when compared to the previous installment in their respective franchises. Star Trek Beyond and Ice Age: Collision Course represent the 21st and 22nd wide release sequels this year after only four (Finding Dory, Captain America: Civil War, The Purge: Election Year and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice) have been able to outperform their franchise predecessor at the domestic box office. Also opening this weekend is the new PG-13 thriller Lights Out from producer James Wan as well as the moderate roll out of Fox Searchlight's Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie while Hillary's America expands nationwide into over 1,200 theaters.

Targeting a first place finish is Star Trek Beyond, the third film in the rebooted franchise and the first with someone other than J.J. Abrams at the helm. Those duties fell on the shoulders of Fast and Furious franchise director Harry Shuei as he stepped in to direct the $185 million budgeted feature, though he wasn't the original choice as the production and film's marketing experienced a few ups and downs along the way.

Roberto Orci, who co-wrote the first two films, was originally attached to direct back in May 2014, but by December 2014 he had dropped off the project and was replaced by Lin two weeks later. Shortly thereafter Trek co-star Simon Pegg and Doug Jung were tapped to rewrite the screenplay Orci had written with Patrick McKay and John D. Payne, though Pegg insists neither he nor Jung ever read the previous draft.

By mid-December 2015 the first trailer for Star Trek Beyond was released and received a largely negative response. The film was notably absent from Paramount's CinemaCon presentation in April and it wasn't until five months after the first trailer that a second was released and received a far more positive response. That said, the marketing for this latest installment has yet to live up to Paramount's approach to Into Darkness, especially considering 2016 marks the 50th anniversary of Gene Roddenberry's original series.

Like Beyond, marketing for Star Trek Into Darkness also began in mid-December ahead of the film's release, but it began with nine minutes of the film screening in front of IMAX showings of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, followed by the first trailer and a viral marketing campaign. Next came a Super Bowl trailer and the Star Trek logo in lights over London. Beyond has seen little in the way of comparison outside of a Comic Con screening last night and an accompanying #StarTrekPremiere hashtag.

Star Trek Into Darkness ultimately opened $5 million below its predecessor (though it did open on a Thursday and carry $13.5 million into the weekend) and took in $29 million less domestically. However, it ended up making over $110 million more internationally thanks to a massive worldwide marketing campaign. The film's international haul also included over $57 million in China compared to just $8.9 million for the first film.

That said, reviews for Star Trek Beyond are largely positive with the film currently holding an 89% rating on RottenTomatoes. Additionally, Paramount has already announced Star Trek 4 with Chris Hemsworth returning as James Kirk's (Chris Pine) father, a move seen frequently in today's Hollywood as it gives some measure of urgency for audiences to see the latest chapter in a franchise, knowing another is on the way. Question is, in a year where several sequels have struggled, will Star Trek Beyond be any different?

The studio is anticipating an opening around $52-56 million this weekend, which would signal a 20-25% decline when compared to the opening for Into Darkness. Looking back, the average opening weekend performance for 2016's wide release sequels (excluding My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2) has been a 13% decline compared to previous installments. Should Star Trek Beyond perform on average it's looking at a $61 million opening, though an opening closer to $58 million seems a safe expectation.

Internationally, Beyond arrives in 37 markets this weekend, representing 46% of the movie's ultimate international footprint. Major market releases include the UK, Australia, Russia and Germany with the film's global release pattern extending into October with its release in China not planned until early September.

Second place is looking like a battle between two-time weekend champion The Secret Life of Pets and Fox's Ice Age: Collision Course. Pets has already brought in over $225 million domestically and will actually have a slight, 54 theater advantage on Ice Age this weekend despite this being the film's third week in release. And, while no Ice Age film has ever opened below $41.6 million, this fifth installment comes on the heels of a strong year in animation so far.

Fox is playing it safe, expecting an opening around $25 million or so, which would be a rather dramatic drop when compared previous installments. However, neither of the last two Ice Age films were dealing with a year in animation such as 2016, which finds Finding Dory surpassing $450 million, Zootopia has topped $341 million and Pets is looking to become the seventh film of 2016 (third animated film) to top $300 million. All of which will have an effect on Ice Age's domestic performance. Expect an opening around $26-31 million if only as a result of audience familiarity with the franchise, though the franchise low, 11% rating at RottenTomatoes does not bode well for anyone paying attention to the critical consensus.

Fox, however, is almost certainly keeping a close eye on the film internationally where it has grossed over $130 million so far and opens in South Korea this weekend. Three of the five Ice Age films have seen over 70% of their worldwide total come from overseas with the most recent installment, Ice Age: Continental Drift, earning over $715 million of its $877 million worldwide haul from overseas.

The last new wide release of the weekend is David F. Sandberg's Lights Out. The micro-budgeted thriller has James Wan attached as producer and is opening in 2,818 theaters this weekend. Studio insiders peg the film at a $13-15 million opening and it is enjoying a strong, 82% rating on RottenTomatoes so far, which will help the thriller meet, if not exceed, studio expectations.

Also looking for a place inside the top ten is Dinesh D'Souza's Hillary's America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party, which brought in $74k from three theaters last weekend and expands to 1,216 theaters this weekend. The film arrives on the heels of the Republican National Convention and a weekend result is tough to nail down, though a weekend around $4-5 million seems doable.

Elsewhere in the top ten, one film all eyes will be focused on is the second weekend for Ghostbusters, which opened with $46 million last weekend. Based on its "B+" CinemaScore and opening weekend theater count, history tells us it should drop around 51.4% or so though director Paul Feig and star Melissa McCarthy have a history of strong multipliers and for that trend to continue Ghostbusters is going to need a solid holdover this weekend.

In limited release, Fox Searchlight's Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie will debut in 313 theaters this weekend after opening in the UK on July 1 where it has already generated over $18 million. Reliance is releasing Madaari into 52 theaters and Mirror Images will release Beta Test into 18 theaters.

This weekend's forecast is directly below. This post will be updated on Friday morning with Thursday night preview results followed by Friday estimates on Saturday morning, and a complete weekend recap on Sunday morning.

  • Star Trek Beyond (3,928 theaters) - $59 M
  • The Secret Life of Pets (4,046 theaters) - $26.9 M
  • Ice Age: Collision Course (3,992 theaters) - $26 M
  • Ghostbusters (3,963 theaters) - $23 M
  • Lights Out (2,818 theaters) - $14.5 M
  • The Legend of Tarzan (2,844 theaters) - $6.1 M
  • Finding Dory (2,576 theaters) - $5.8 M
  • Hillary's America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party (1,216 theaters) - $4.9 M
  • Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates (2,137 theaters) - $3.7 M
  • The Purge: Election Year (1,691 theaters) - $3.3 M

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