Weekend Box Office

Box Office: Star Trek Warps Into #1 Spot

Chiller Lights Out Exceeds Box Office Expectations

by | July 24, 2016 | Comments

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This weekend, 50 years later and audiences are still lining up to see the Kirk-Spock bromance. Paramount topped the North American box office with this summer’s latest sequel Star Trek Beyond, the 13th film in the decades-old sci-fi franchise. The PG-13 adventure took in an estimated $59.6M over the weekend which fell below the marks of its two predecessors. IMAX screens represented a sturdy 14% of the gross. 2009’s reboot Star Trek debuted to $79.2M while the follow-up Into Darkness opened to $70.2M. Both were directed by J.J. Abrams who then left to direct the last Star Wars movie. Justin Lin, following four chapters of the Fast & Furious series, came in to helm Beyond.

With most big sequels seeing audience erosion this year, the drop seen by Beyond is not too bad. Saturday saw only a 7% dip from opening day. That is an encouraging figure for a sci-fi threequel opening in summer as the business is generally frontloaded. Plus an A- CinemaScore shows that fans are generally pleased with the latest saga. Reviews were quite positive too. Paramount has given a strong marketing push and has tied into the promotional hype for the 50th anniversary of the franchise. The iconic TV series began airing in 1966.

With three of the four months of the summer movie season almost over, Star Trek Beyond has posted the third best opening weekend for any live-action film this entire season. The only bigger ones were from the comic book movies Captain America: Civil War ($179.1M) and X-Men: Apocalypse ($65.8M). Many high-profile summer offerings have underperformed this year and these three films are the only ones to break $50M on opening weekend, for live-action pictures. The “can’t-miss” factor has been missing from so many films this summer. A rebound could be coming with next weekend’s Jason Bourne followed a week later by the buzzworthy Suicide Squad which is generating tremendous heat.

Star Trek Beyond opened to $30M from 37 international markets representing a 14% drop from Into Darkness in the same territories. Most major markets which did not open this frame will launch around when the Summer Olympics end, or beyond.

Universal settled for second place with its hit toon The Secret Life of Pets which collected an estimated $29.3M in its third weekend, off a moderate 42%. The cume rose to $260.7M surpassing both Despicable Me and The LEGO Movie and will soon join the triple century club. Worldwide is at $323.7M now.

This summer’s string of horror hits continued with the new chiller Lights Out which exceeded expectations to open with an estimated $21.6M from 2,818 locations for a strong $7,665 average. The PG-13 pic earned very good reviews and was powered by young women at the box office. Studio data from Warner Bros. shows that 54% were female and 74% were under 35 including 37% under 18. The CinemaScore grade was a B which was good for this genre indicating customers were pretty happy with what they paid for. With a small $5M budget, Lights Out may end its domestic run at over ten times its production cost.

The much-talked-about reboot Ghostbusters fell 53% in its second weekend and grossed an estimated $21.6M. That was a normal decline for a sci-fi summer pic in its sophomore frame with another new sci-fi franchise flick opening against it. Sony has banked $86.9M to date and looks to end in the $140M range. Given the $144M production cost plus the marketing push, a healthy run internationally is what the studio hopes for.

Ice Age: Collision Course, the fifth installment in the 14-year-old toon franchise, showed its age with an opening weekend of an estimated $21M. It was the first time that the series did not break $40M in the first weekend. The last chapter, Continental Drift, also launched in mid-July but saw a stronger $46.6M opening weekend in 2012. Collision averaged just $5,450 from 3,963 locations and earned terrible reviews. With domestic audiences spending a towering $721M over the past six weeks on Pets and Finding Dory, only few needed another toon to see.

But North America has been a lesser priority for this franchise as global sales have been spectacular over the years and that is what prompted another film. Drift grossed an eye-popping $718M from international markets which accounted for a whopping 82% of the worldwide tally. With earlier openings around the world, Collision now sits at $200M worldwide with only 11% coming from North America, plus China is still to come.

Finding Dory climbed its way into the all-time domestic top ten this weekend after grossing an estimated $7.2M in its sixth frame, off only 36%, for a new total of $460.2M. The Pixar smash surpassed Disney stablemate Avengers: Age of Ultron to take the number nine spot all-time. A finish in the $485-500M range seems likely. Global stands at $781.7M.

The Legend of Tarzan dropped 44% to an estimated $6.4M for $115.8M to date for Warner Bros. Fox’s comedy Mike & Dave Need Wedding Dates slipped 43% to an estimated $4.4M taking in just $40.4M overall.

The documentary Hillary’s America expanded nationwide after its platform bow a week ago and jumped into the top ten with an estimated $3.7M from 1,217 locations for a mild $3,040 average. Rounding out the top ten was the Bryan Cranston film The Infiltrator with an estimated $3.3M, down only 38%, for a new cume of $12.2M for Broad Green.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $178.2M which was up 29% from last year when Ant-Man stayed at number one with $24.9M; and up 35% from 2014 when Lucy opened in the top spot with $43.9M.

Compared to projections, Star Trek and Ice Age came in below my respective predictions of $66M and $32M while Lights Out opened well ahead of my forecast of $12M.

Follow Gitesh on Twitter.

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