Weekend Report: ‘Star Trek’ Prospers
by Brandon Gray
May 11, 2009
|Zachary Quino and Chris Pine in Star Trek|| |
Seeking out new life for the series, Star Trek commanded a stellar $75.2 million on approximately 7,400 screens at 3,849 sites over the weekend (plus an estimated $4 million from Thursday night previews). Paramount Pictures' Star Wars-like treatment of Gene Roddenberry's science fiction franchise resulted in the biggest Trek opening yet, soaring past the previous high of Star Trek: First Contact, which started at $30.7 million or the equivalent of over $50 million adjusted for ticket price inflation.
Star Trek steered the weekend as a whole to over $149 million, which was the biggest total ever for a second weekend in May and up more than 19 percent over last year. The picture also yielded the most-attended start ever for a movie debuting in that timeframe, topping Twister. Unlike Twister, Star Trek opened in the wake of another big movie, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, which wilted to an X-Men franchise low.
Included in Star Trek's total was the biggest-grossing weekend ever in IMAX history. The picture raked in $8.5 million at 138 IMAX venues, surpassing The Dark Knight's previous benchmark of $6.3 million. According to Paramount's exit polling, Star Trek's overall audience composition was 60 percent male and 65 percent over 25 years old.
It has been six and a half years since the last movie, Star Trek: Nemesis, fizzled at the box office and four years since the lowly-rated prequel series, Enterprise, ended its run. With that time to heal, the new Star Trek was positioned as a reboot a la Batman Begins and Casino Royale. The marketing slickly offered the familiarity of Star Trek's culturally iconic trappings with the promise of a grand, visceral adventure. Even if people hadn't seen previous Trek movies or shows, many elements, from the character types to the catch phrases, have saturated the culture for decades. That gave the new movie, which is a return to the original and most famous characters, a widely resonant framework to catapult it above other action pictures.
That doesn't mean there weren't miscues. The "This is not your father's Star Trek" line of the ad campaign, while accurate in its description of the movie itself for better or for worse, was not only puerile but unnecessarily insulting to the previous Star Trek incarnations and the audience base. One doesn't have to alienate the fans in order to broaden the appeal (even if most will take the abuse and still see the new movie anyway). The Batman and James Bond franchises were successfully rebooted without openly attacking what came before (and Batman had more to apologize for after Batman Forever and Batman and Robin).
Overshadowed by the flame-out of the later movies and television series, the popularity of Star Trek has been underrated, and the franchise certainly has a better batting average than J.J. Abrams, the director of the new movie who was given the keys after his first picture Mission: Impossible III disappointed and after his television series were either heavily-marketed non-starters in the ratings (Alias) or saw their audiences dwindle (Lost). While no Star Wars, Star Trek: The Motion Picture broke the opening weekend record nearly 30 years ago, amassing $11.9 million at 857 theaters or the equivalent of over $34 million adjusted for ticket price inflation, and its final tally of $82.3 million would equal nearly $240 million today. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan also set a new weekend benchmark in its debut, and the average total gross of the previous Star Trek movies, including both the respected entries and the clunkers, is close to $150 million adjusted.
Meanwhile, the summer's kick-off, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, eroded 69 percent to $26.4 million. That's a steeper decline than the previous picture, X-Men: The Last Stand, and it's also the least attended second weekend of the franchise. In ten days, Wolverine has collected a muscular $129 million. While it trails the first X-Men adjusted for ticket price inflation as well as X2: X-Men United and The Last Stand by wide margins, it would have been unrealistic to expect Wolverine to match the heights of its predecessors, given that it's a prequel that effectively limited its audience to the fan base, unlike Star Trek.
Like Wolverine, Ghosts of Girlfriends Past had a lower second weekend gross than its predecessors: in this case, the previous Matthew McConaughey romantic comedies Fool's Gold, Failure to Launch, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days and The Wedding Planner. Nonetheless, it had a good hold, down 33 percent to $10.3 million, raising its total to $30.1 million in ten days.
Fading faster than the stalker thrillers of yore that it aped, Obsessed retreated 46 percent to $6.6 million, hiking up its tally to a potent $56.2 million in ten days. 17 Again again mirrored the last major body switch comedy, 13 Going on 30, and made $4.2 million for $54 million in 24 days. The weekend's other new nationwide release, crime comedy Next Day Air, packed a modest $4.1 million at 1,138 locations.
• 'Wolverine' Roars
This Timeframe in Past Years:
• 2008 - 'Iron Man' Builds, 'Speed Racer' Burns
• 2007 - 'Spider-Man 3' Unravels But Rules
• 2006 - 'Poseidon' Capsizes, Cruise Clings to Top Spot
• 2005 - 'Monster-in-Law' Claws to the Top
• 2004 - 'Troy' Rises But Not Immortal
• 2003 - Mutants Muster More Than Murphy
• 2002 - 'Spider-Man' Nets More Records in Second Weekend
• Weekend Box Office Results
• All Time May Opening Weekends
• TV Adaptations (live action)
• 'Star Trek' Franchise