Here are your three-day box office returns (new releases bolded):
1. Star Trek Into Darkness - $70.6 million
2. Iron Man 3 - $35.2 million
3. The Great Gatsby - $23.4 million
4. Pain & Gain - $3.1 million
5. The Croods - $2.75 million
6. 42 - $2.73 million
7. Mud- $2.25 million
7. Oblivion - $2.22 million
8. Peeples - $2.15 million
9. The Big Wedding - $1.1 million
The Big Stories
Welcome to this week's edition of "That's a disappointment?" No, not Iron Man 3, which became the 16th film to pass the billion dollar mark at the box office. When the first reports about Star Trek Into Darkness' tracking surfaced, the weekend was put at $85 million. That's the weekend, mind you, before Paramount decided to open it wide on Thursday. Then the number was $95. Why the hell not, let the pundits make it $100. Bloomberg had it at $112. It's not like we're dealing with a series that only cracked the $100 million mark at the domestic box office once prior to 2009 or anything. Ah, but we're in J.J. Abrams' alternate timeline now; the one where everything can now exist on its own and be not beholden to the past. If only Spock Prime could have shown up again to give everyone the good news/bad news of this opening.
Star Trek Into Red
That is very well where this latest entry could be headed. After all the desperate attempts to keep secrets when the studio could have just released the villain's pseudonym the whole time, and walking away with their handful of positive trade reviews and coverage overseas before sidelining most of the American press until the night of opening, Paramount is now finding itself about $4 million off the pace of their 2009 kickstarter. That film limped its way into the black as its international dollars couldn't match half of what the Trekkers invested here in the U.S. That is where some good news exists though. International grosses are a bit up with about $80 million tallied so far compared to the grand total of $127 back in '09 with several more markets to open.
Unless that expands to about $200 million though, Star Trek Into Darkness is likely to have Paramount execs wondering if it's worth putting so much into a third film. $70.6 million estimated for the weekend. $84.1 million since Thursday. The sequel is budgeted at $190 million (up $40 million from its predecessor) so it will need somewhere in the vicinity of $475 million worldwide to make the bookkeepers happy. Surely it will do well on DVD, but Paramount could use all the good news it can get now on the eve of impending disaster World War Z.
Star Trek Into Memorial Day
Three major films enter the marketplace over the holiday weekend. Furious Six (yes, that's the title) is going to own the four-day stretch; quite likely even hitting the $100 mark that Star Trek failed to accomplish. Muscleheads beating down the geeks make it seem like high school all over again. Also there to challenge Star Trek's second week is The Hangover Part III. Many seem to agree that this is a series that wore out its welcome the moment anyone saw Part II. (For me, it was with part one.) But that doesn't mean it still won't open over the holiday strong to those who still want to justify their Wolfpack T-shirts the next time they go to Vegas. The second film grossed $103.4 million over its four-day holiday stretch. Even if it loses half its audience, that still will likely be good enough to best Star Trek, knocking it back further down the list.
The year 2009's Star Trek dropped a very respectable 43% in its second weekend. But it only had one piece of competition with Angels & Demons which barely edged it out. This time around it faces off against two high-profile sequels with built-in audiences and the first true family film to hit theaters since The Croods in March. There seems to be an awful lot of underestimating when it comes to Fox's Epic. It is getting the widest launch over the holiday and remind yourself again that it will be the only family film in the marketplace for a full month until Monsters University arrives. Going back to 2000, here is how family films have fared over the four-day memorium:
Shrek 2 ($95.5 million/second week), Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian ($70.0), Shrek the Third ($67.0/second week), Madagascar ($61.0), Kung Fu Panda 2 ($60.8), Shrek Forever After ($57.0/second week), Shrek ($55.2/second week), Over the Hedge ($35.3/second week), Dinosaur ($32.0/second week), The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian ($29.8/second week)
Reasonable to consider that Epic finds its way somewhere over $40 million. If Star Trek Into Darkness manages to follow the same path as 2009 it will be at $41 million for likely a fourth place finish and about $150 million domestic and about $5 million off the pace of the first film. In Paramount's corner are the 3D and IMAX surcharges which can cost a ticket buyer $16-20 a piece, so a $250 million cumulative is still not out of the question, even if individual ticket sales are not as impressive. But anything less than $250 million here will be considered, amazing as it may sound, a disappointment for the studio.
Erik Childress can be seen each Thursday morning on WCIU-TV's First Business breaking down the box office on the Movies & Money segment.
[box office figures via Box Office Mojo]