Box Office Report: 'Star Trek: Beyond' Leads Weekend, But Falls Behind Franchise

Box Office Report: 'Star Trek: Beyond' Leads Weekend, But Falls Behind Franchise

Jul 25, 2016

Here's your estimated 3-day box office returns (new releases bolded):

1. Star Trek Beyond - $59.6 million ($59.6 million total)

2. The Secret Life of Pets - $29.3 million ($260.7 million total)

3. Ghostbusters - $21.6 million ($86.8 million total)

4. Lights Out - $21.6 million ($21.6 million total)

5. Ice Age: Collision Course - $21.0 million ($21.0 million total)

6. Finding Dory - $7.2 million ($460.1 million total)

7. The Legend of Tarzan - $6.4 million ($115.8 million total)

8. Mike & Dave Need Wedding Dates - $4.4 million ($40.3 million total)

9. Hillary’s America - $3.7 million ($3.7 million total)

10. The Infiltrator - $3.2 million ($12.2 million total)

 

The Big Stories

Around two weeks ago, Paramount sent the message that they were hiding Star Trek Beyond from critics. Screenings being setup less than 24 hours before the first public showing – or in some markets no screenings at all – is as damning as a press release saying they were not very confident about this one. Then a funny thing happened... members of their junket press kinda liked it. Screenings were not moved up for anyone else, but the 24-hour-before-public-release-embargo sure was, giving them the opportunity to brag about their early Rotten Tomatoes score in commercials. Even after most critics finally laid their eyes on Justin Lin’s installment that score has held up well with an 85%, making the film one of the best-reviewed of the summer (and even 11th best of the year.)

But it is the box office that the studio should be concerned with even after putting the confident spin on the franchise’s longevity with the announcement of a fourth chapter.

 

Beyond What? The Final Frontier?

Star Trek Beyond did manage to open with $59 million, right in line with expectations for this weekend. That made it the 5th best opening of the summer, supplanting Ghostbusters taking the spot last week. Those rankings should be upended in the coming weeks by Jason Bourne and Suicide Squad as well. Some bemoaned the idea last week that Ghostbusters’ $46 million was not as high and mighty – nor as solid – as some suggested, especially given its budget.

Just three weeks earlier, Independence Day: Resurgence was hailed as an immediate bomb despite opening to just five million less than Paul Feig’s reboot. The difference, though, is two-fold. First, ID4-2 carried a higher budget than Ghostbusters (give or take $21 million not including P&A differences.) Second – everyone figured word-of-mouth was going to be stronger with the heralded ladies than the lambasted aliens. This is what Star Trek Beyond needs to now hope for given that the pricetag is higher than either of those films.

At $185 million, the budget for Star Trek Beyond might be slightly less than Into Darkness, but shaving $5 million from the cost is hardly a comfort given that number three was destined in this summer landscape to do anywhere from $70-100 million less than its predecessors. Sorry Trekkies, but this is still not Star Wars and neither of the J.J. Abrams films reached $500 million worldwide. Either of the last two Ice Age films grossed more worldwide than the two Star Trek films combined.

Your “A-“ Cinemascored films to open in July since 1999 between $46-65 million are as follows:

Captain America: The First Avenger, The Amazing Spider-Man, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation, X-Men, The Wolverine, The Bourne Supremacy, I Robot, Ice Age: Continental Drift

Those films posted an average drop of 54.3% in their second weekend and a multiple of 3.23 - or - an over/under of $27.2 million next weekend against Jason Bourne and Bad Moms and $192 million total. Reading this column you know the numbers of this wacky summer and your best bet would be the under on both of those figures. 2016 is not the year of the word-of-mouth multiple. Combine that with some serious competition in the coming weeks and the going rate of multiples this summer and Beyond could be looking more in the vicinity of $152 million. Going to be hard to justify such an expensive budget on the fourth film. Particularly if Paramount shows the same kind of faith they showed in this one.

 

Lights Out for Ice Age?

As you just read, there is a reason that Fox has continued the Ice Age series despite everything basically crying out “straight to DVD” at this point in terms of quality. Critics long disposed to giving most animated films a reasonable pass for being cute and colorful have long since abandoned this series. Not a single sequel to the 2002 hit have received a positive score at Rotten Tomatoes. But just as Paramount doesn’t care about critics, neither should Fox. At least where this franchise is concerned since it has wrapped up over $2.8 billion worldwide with the last two films doing $1.75 billion of that alone.

So it did not open to half of what the original and fourth film opened to or even a third of what the third film did in the U.S. They spent a little extra on this one ($105 million), but so what? It makes half-a-billion in its sleep while adults in the audience are actually sleeping. It has already made over $134 million overseas. Fox could forego future U.S. releases entirely and release a sixth film just internationally and still turn a huge profit. It would be like The Divergent Series, only with some actual money and a theatrical release for its final chapters.

Also doing solid numbers this weekend is Lights Out, which Warner Bros. did have enough faith in to show to critics earlier than usual and they got a solid 78% at Rotten Tomatoes. Its “B” Cinemascore is nothing to write home about, but the $4.9 million production did four times that in its first three days plus an additional $8.3 million overseas. That is a hit on anyone’s calculator, especially when it gets between $55-60 million here alone. That will help recoup some of that Legend of Tarzan money, which is going to gross approximately $50 million less than its production budget in North America. Amazing what a combination of a reasonable budget, good marketing and solid critical buzz can do for a film sometimes.

Kudos to the marketing team at Warner Bros. though who likely get this opening even without the critical stamp of approval but there is something to be said in having faith – or at least the appearance of faith – in your product.

 

Tales of the Top Ten

Ghostbusters had around the kind of drop that was expected when you remove a portion of their audience to chase the latest sci-fi-action, family-friendly, PG-13 ghost tales on the market. At $85 million it is about three million off the pace of testosterone-fueled fare like Mad Max: Fury Road and Bad Boys II, but closer to the pace of Troy which finished with $133 million. The Paul Feig reboot is over $100 million worldwide but still has quite a ways to go to break even.

For those wondering about the feeble Independence Day: Resurgence comparison it finally passed $100 million in the U.S. this weekend, but has also grossed an additional $243 million overseas. Still not enough to get into the black.

The Secret Life of Pets brushed off Ice Age 5 like it wondered into the Sewer of Flushed Pets. It really stepped up its game besting Minions’ third weekend by around $6 million and now finds itself just two million off the pace of that film’s $336 million final tally. Minions made $12.3 million in its fourth weekend and it would take some kind of severe drop for it not to beat that as well and forge a path to $340 million and higher. That would be good enough to best Nemo but not Finding Dory, which will be the 7th highest grossing film ever released in the U.S. within the next two weeks.

Finally, the less said about convicted felon Dinesh D’Souza and his filmmaking skills the better (5% at Rotten Tomatoes), but his latest opus, Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party, did crack the top ten. Expanding into 1216 theaters this weekend, the “film”’s $3.7 million is better than the expansion of his last film, the aptly titled America back in 2014, which expanded to 1105 theaters and grossed $2.7 million to an eventual $14.4 million. A far cry from his 2016: Obama’s America back in 2012 which made $33.4 million. Anyone fact check that one lately? Whatever the grosses may be it’s hardly Michael Moore territory when he unleashed Fahrenheit 9/11 to $119.1 million back in 2004. But, George W. Bush still got elected that November, as did President Obama to a second term in 2012. If history serves, by this November we could be going to where no (or actually every man) has gone before.


- Erik Childress can be heard each week evaluating box office on WGN Radio with Nick Digilio as well as on Business First AM with Angela Miles and his Movie Madness Podcast.

[box office figures via Box Office Mojo]

 

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