Box Office Guru Preview: Star Trek Opens Fire on Wolverine

Also: Next Day Air tries to conquer the non-blockbuster market.

by | May 7, 2009 | Comments

For the first time in four years the second weekend of May will see a new release debut in the number one spot as Paramount boldly re-energizes one of its oldest franchises with the new Star Trek which aims to topple last weekend’s champ X-Men Origins: Wolverine. The frame’s only other new title, the comedy Next Day Air, gets a much more subdued launch and will find itself much lower on the charts. The battling action tentpoles should lead the North American box office to a solid win over last year’s comparable session helping the summer continue its red hot start.

Left for dead after 2002’s dreadful and forgettable installment Nemesis, the Star Trek movie franchise gets a new lease on life thanks to director J.J. Abrams and his mission to boldly go where no man has gone before – to the origin years taking place before the landmark 1960s television series. The new Trek boasts a new cast including Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto heading up the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise playing James Kirk and Mr. Spock, respectively. Eric Bana, Bruce Greenwood, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, and John Cho also join the adventure.

While never a mega-smash at the box office, the Trek franchise has been a consistent winner with audiences until the final two films. It’s hard to find a series of movies spanning four decades in which the 1986 installment still remains the highest-grossing one. For Star Trek, the only film to reach nine digits was the whale of a tale Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home which grossed $109.7M more than 22 years ago when tickets were significantly cheaper. The top opening for the franchise was the $30.7M of 1996’s Star Trek: First Contact which featured the cast of The Next Generation. Abrams will soon beat both milestones, although today’s higher ticket prices will contribute as well.

Still a valuable property, Trek was rebooted by Paramount in a bold move with a new cast and new director. Along with its younger set of actors comes a marketing push aimed to bring in younger audiences – the ones that drive the summer box office. These are important people who are aware of Kirk and company, but may respond better to a modern tricked out version that actually makes the sci-fi property cool. Trailers and commercials for the new Abrams vehicle are among the best for any film in 2009 and the studio gets kudos for slowly and steadily building up anticipation over the past year with its brilliant campaign. Ads promise that ‘this is not your father’s Star Trek‘ and the under-25 set will respond in large numbers. Promotional partners and marketing tie-ups will also help in broadening the audience.


The U.S.S., uh, Kelvin

The key has been to present the film as an action-packed adrenaline-pumping summer thrill ride first making it an event film open to all, without alienating the faithful. It’s essentially become Trek for the Fast & Furious generation. Comparisons to grosses for any of the ten previous films in the series would be foolish. Take those numbers, crumple them up, and throw them in the trash as they have absolutely nothing to do with this new film and today’s moviegoing era. Trek may not open as big as Wolverine, but it has a much better shot at hitting the $200M domestic mark in the long run.

An early blast-off with shows starting at 7pm on Thursday night will lead to hardcore fans promoting the film on Friday at work and school to the all important undecided voters. The limited two-week Imax run in 138 locations will help boost the numbers too, although the presence of Wolverine will siphon off some of the action/sci-fi crowd.

As with Iron Man last year, Paramount is in the enviable position of having in Trek an early summer tentpole that comes with a built-in audience that will guarantee a stellar opening, but which is also a rock solid action entertainer that can attract new fans and repeat business in the weeks ahead thanks to what should be very positive word-of-mouth. Critics have been universally praising Star Trek which will be crucial in winning over older fans and influencing newbies. Ratings at RottenTomatoes.com have been nearly identical – 94% for Star Trek and 93% for Iron Man. Comic and sci-fi fans that felt burned with Hugh Jackman’s new origin tale may feel redeemed after they take a ride with Jim Kirk and pals.

A massive global release is planned this weekend and cast and crew have been flying across this Class M planet endlessly promoting away. It’s a smart investment as the studio needs to not only make this $125M film work, but is in a position to keep dollars rolling in across the next decade if it can succeed in making Star Trek relevant again to moviegoers. The franchise indeed will be reborn. Bursting into 3,849 theaters, Star Trek might open to about $71M over the Friday-to-Sunday period and $74M including Thursday night sales.


Zachary Quinto as Spock

Though his name may sound like a Trek villain’s, director Benny Boom offers up the weekend’s only competing wide release with the comedy Next Day Air. Unfortunately tagged with an R rating, the Summit release stars Mike Epps, Donald Faison, and Mos Def and tells the story of two bumbling criminals that try to sell a package of cocaine mistakenly delivered to them. Young men and urban audiences are the target here and the rating will cut into some potential with younger teens who might be up for this film. Starpower is lacking as Epps cannot open a film without Ice Cube at his side. The marketing push has not been too strong and a moderate release in about 1,000 locations will limit the potential. DVD is where the bulk of the crowd will catch this one. Look for Next Day Air to bow to about $3M.


Donald Faison and Mos Def in Next Day Air

X-Men Origins: Wolverine enjoyed a brawny opening last weekend with a sizable $85.1M debut. The Fox tentpole has collected solid numbers midweek with $5.5M on Monday and $4.6M on Tuesday, however the audience is already eroding quickly. With last year’s Iron Man being the notable exception, summer kickoff films typically fall hard on the second weekend like Spider-Man 3‘s 62% in 2007, Hugh Jackman starrer Van Helsing‘s 60% in 2004, and X2: X-Men United‘s 53% in 2003. Add in the expected muscular bow of Star Trek that will play to the same audience and Wolverine‘s decline should be more Spidey and less X-Men. This year, high profile action flicks Fast & Furious and Watchmen both debuted big but fell by 62% and 68% respectively in the second round. A tumble of at least 60% for Origins would lead to a weekend take of about $33M lifting the ten-day tally to $136M.

With no new date movies, the Matthew McConaugheyJennifer Garner comedy Ghosts of Girlfriends Past might have decent staying power despite the bad reviews. Paramount has been actively courting young women for its Trek reboot but many will still want to spend time with characters without pointy ears. A 45% drop for the Warner Bros. release would deliver a $9M gross with the total reaching $28M in ten days. The relationship thriller Obsessed may slide by 50% to around $6M or a 17-day tally of $56M for Sony.

LAST YEAR: Easily defending its spot atop the box office chart, Iron Man enjoyed a great hold dropping 48% to $51.2M. Super hero films and action tentpoles often tumble by more than 60% in the sophomore frame so Paramount saw evidence of the leggy run that would follow as the Robert Downey Jr. starrer spent an incredible 14 weeks in the Top 20. In a shocker, the modestly-budgeted romantic comedy What Happens in Vegas bowed in second place with $20.2M beating out the expensive and heavily-hyped franchise flick Speed Racer which finished in third with only $18.6M. Final grosses reached a sturdy $80.3M for Fox’s Cameron DiazAshton Kutcher laugher and a disturbing $43.9M for the Warner Bros. automotive disaster. Rounding out the top five were the female-skewing comedies Made of Honor with $8.1M and Baby Mama with $6.2M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

Tag Cloud

comics telelvision psychological thriller news Fargo zombie TruTV zero dark thirty robots Christmas scary movies justice league Amazon Studios cults Film Disney Comics on TV RT21 adenture spider-verse lord of the rings 94th Oscars GoT cooking YouTube Premium breaking bad AMC young adult supernatural interviews blockbusters Tags: Comedy Best Picture foreign Certified Fresh Grammys Election Character Guide Comic-Con@Home 2021 Superheroe Emmy Nominations indiana jones Oscars Disney streaming service TCA godzilla TLC Cosplay dreamworks The Arrangement new star wars movies documentary green book superhero Best and Worst toronto sequels Stephen King Polls and Games comic book movies MTV FXX Black History Month Sony Pictures suspense IFC period drama CW Seed basketball Binge Guide Reality Competition scorecard chucky films Podcast PaleyFest stand-up comedy Song of Ice and Fire feel good psycho high school a nightmare on elm street adaptation binge witnail obituary Rom-Com hispanic heritage month Thanksgiving ABC Signature Ovation 2020 jamie lee curtis Comedy New York Comic Con hist mob Black Mirror Shudder Epix scary Sneak Peek vs. Disney Plus nfl The Walking Dead genre Cannes romance Dark Horse Comics Pixar Netflix Hear Us Out Brie Larson spinoff MCU Tumblr DirecTV know your critic TBS Discovery Channel TNT Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Star Wars Celebration FX on Hulu halloween tv CBS All Access Marathons Freeform Pacific Islander reviews Star Wars Native Neflix strong female leads animated Ellie Kemper 72 Emmy Awards Paramount Network Amazon Prime 2021 Rocky twilight Anna Paquin Esquire dramedy Masterpiece Amazon Broadway kaiju Paramount Pictures golden globes SundanceTV OneApp NBA Musicals ESPN Columbia Pictures DGA french DC streaming service deadpool transformers Women's History Month Television Critics Association discovery all-time king kong E! SDCC docuseries universal monsters Captain marvel VH1 cinemax Calendar hollywood Best Actress laika quibi comic book movie award winner Chilling Adventures of Sabrina prank Countdown streaming movies Elton John Spike south america Disney Channel Comedy Central 4/20 SXSW The Academy E3 First Reviews docudrama Interview Shondaland Exclusive Video international summer TV preview Legendary Winter TV sequel Action trophy monster movies new zealand TV documentaries Best Actor elevated horror Watching Series IMDb TV National Geographic Sundance toy story DC Universe Film Festival screen actors guild biography venice Warner Bros. Sundance Now live event Western Lucasfilm WarnerMedia marvel cinematic universe Cartoon Network CMT series spanish LGBTQ book Nat Geo black comedy hidden camera political drama TV renewals rotten Indigenous TCA 2017 boxing El Rey batman Amazon Prime Video canceled Acorn TV superman Comic Book revenge TV movies 2015 child's play children's TV Red Carpet leaderboard action-comedy 93rd Oscars razzies sports science fiction Family X-Men adventure TCA Winter 2020 Trophy Talk critic resources composers miniseries Super Bowl broadcast Superheroes Extras Britbox President royal family movie 2018 italian ITV Crunchyroll Oscar latino Universal Pictures live action Pop teaser NYCC 2017 Hallmark technology jurassic park debate The Purge joker Netflix Christmas movies Pride Month Baby Yoda YA free movies cancelled television YouTube Red book adaptation Showtime ratings VOD japanese golden globe awards Lifetime TV One CBS crime Year in Review pirates of the caribbean based on movie Schedule dexter crime thriller Holiday name the review kids Academy Awards Focus Features spider-man anime what to watch Infographic Image Comics parents crossover space A&E Marvel Television TV Land cancelled TV shows BBC One biopic Pop TV thriller Peacock rotten movies we love boxoffice Hulu Logo dceu mutant Hollywood Foreign Press Association stoner trailers Trailer satire richard e. Grant 99% Awards comic HBO cats politics obi wan black sitcom Emmys social media Fox News USA Network GLAAD Best Director crime drama true crime Marvel Studios marvel comics rt labs OWN cars comedies Universal Alien harry potter cops remakes South by Southwest Film Festival women popular DC Comics diversity facebook video Pet Sematary mission: impossible TIFF ABC Family travel Music Funimation Mudbound Syfy christmas movies Rocketman Disney+ Disney Plus APB fast and furious Tarantino Walt Disney Pictures ghosts slashers RT History Mary Poppins Returns theme song SXSW 2022 james bond aapi History Valentine's Day Toys summer TV rt archives A24 slasher Lionsgate target See It Skip It Travel Channel legend Musical LGBT olympics streamig Martial Arts Creative Arts Emmys Starz saw TCM Hallmark Christmas movies Pirates 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards hispanic aliens rt labs critics edition Instagram Live 2016 scene in color new york BAFTA Drama 24 frames festival classics VICE game of thrones Premiere Dates tv talk asian-american Sci-Fi MGM police drama Awards Tour Trivia 2019 worst Television Academy posters criterion Paramount Plus halloween blaxploitation canceled TV shows Biopics IFC Films Box Office fresh festivals 73rd Emmy Awards Prime Video Spectrum Originals Marvel Ghostbusters mcc BBC Video Games 45 renewed TV shows cancelled TV series king arthur streaming screenings First Look anthology emmy awards sag awards 79th Golden Globes Awards Food Network comiccon dc Nickelodeon Writers Guild of America Geeked Week 90s vampires Tokyo Olympics Fantasy 21st Century Fox Fall TV die hard japan Holidays Sundance TV natural history independent ABC MSNBC romantic comedy American Society of Cinematographers BET 007 ID gangster FOX Crackle San Diego Comic-Con Animation YouTube PBS 20th Century Fox Adult Swim television Bravo The CW Star Trek worst movies casting singing competition Horror Wes Anderson TCA Awards football Paramount ViacomCBS unscripted Classic Film directors dragons zombies talk show Rock serial killer blockbuster CNN Spring TV BET Awards war Sony HBO Go NBC Kids & Family game show HBO Max Turner Classic Movies Mary poppins Mary Tyler Moore Fox Searchlight doctor who Avengers The Walt Disney Company spanish language reboot franchise archives nature GIFs Mindy Kaling USA cancelled sopranos 1990s summer preview concert FX heist movie Apple TV+ Country Opinion scene in color series comic books WGN Endgame rom-coms medical drama target scene in color Vudu historical drama spy thriller disaster Lifetime Christmas movies indie AMC Plus cartoon Tomatazos best finale Arrowverse Nominations werewolf Set visit dogs mockumentary 71st Emmy Awards Mystery art house Apple wonder woman Winners Heroines Turner BBC America critics Quiz video on demand stop motion scene in color film series Tubi Summer PlayStation HFPA Apple TV Plus The Witch movies Reality Chernobyl nbcuniversal Teen australia spain kong dark Photos versus