Star Trek Boldly Goes Forward… Somehow
By John Hamann
July 24, 2016
On my 15th anniversary of writing this piece, and having seen four Star Trek films go by in that time period, I still have to wonder how these films are financially viable, as this group has cost Paramount a combined $585 million, and all told should earn a combined $1.4 billion worldwide. Sorry Trekkers, it might seem like a lot, but it is not enough to propel a franchise.
Openers this weekend include Star Trek Beyond, the third film in the most recent version of the franchise – a troubled one at best – but with news that the fourth film will circle back to Kirk’s dad in the original, even I have hope for the next film in the series. The latest animated kids flick (enough already) is Ice Age: Collision Course (aka Ice Age: Something Something), which is set to take the fall for a summer dominated by cartoons for kids. Our last opener is the bright spot in our box office weekend, and it is Lights Out, the latest in the low budget horror film realm, but there’s a surprise this time, as this one is actually good. Did audiences respond? Read on to find out.
The number one film of the weekend is Star Trek Beyond, the third film in the rebooted Star Trek franchise. Unfortunately, this one follows Star Trek Into Darkness, a film I found to be sacrilege against the earlier Shatner/Nimoy films. Reviews don’t support my theory (86% fresh) and neither does the Cinemascore for the earlier film (A), but after conversations with fans and non-fans alike, I’m sticking with my opinion. The reboot started so well with the original Star Trek (95% fresh, A Cinemascore, $385 million worldwide), a film that set the stage for something that seemed destined to be really good. My problem is that the original cost $150 million to make, and if your film isn’t making three times its production budget worldwide, I have trouble calling it a success. Lionsgate tried to build a franchise off Divergent, which earned $289 million from an $85 million budget, coming in just slightly over that 3x mark, and now the fourth film in the series is likely going straight to TV, as neither of the two follow-ups came close to hitting the necessary multiplier. It’s the mark of death, and it's all over the last three Star Trek films.
Like the Divergent Series, Star Trek Into Darkness also failed to earn three times its budget. It earned $467 million worldwide, but Paramount lifted the budget to $190 million, leaving it searching for a massive $570 million worldwide, a number it fell $100 million short of. For Star Trek Beyond, Paramount reduced the budget to $185 million, leaving it looking for $555 million, an extreme longshot at best. Justin Lin (Fast and Furiouses) takes the reins this time, hoping to reboot the reboot into a better direction. Word on the ground is that we have a better film than last time, and overseas grosses have been increasing from film to film, so Paramount still has hope for this series.