One Month Out: Part One

By BOP Staff

April 15, 2009

It's probably a bad sign that everyone except Wolverine is asleep.

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Tim Briody: Quantum of Solace did a reboot of sorts and that caused the biggest opening in the history of the James Bond franchise. Star Trek is about to do the same. The biggest opening weekend belongs to First Contact at $30.7 million. The highest grossing entry is Star Trek IV at $109 million (figures not adjusted for inflation). The reboot is going to blow both of those numbers completely out of the water.

Josh Spiegel: I agree with Tim; this new version of Star Trek is going to blow the old numbers and some lowered expectations out of the water. On the one hand, it's obvious that Star Trek has always been a niche property, but the many, many ads on TV and at the movies, as well as an emphasis on straight action-adventure, as opposed to a heavy sci-fi focus should help this one out. Also, it helps having characters as familiar as Kirk and Spock (even without William Shatner in the mix) as the leads. I'd say this one will get close to or jump over $200 million domestic.

Max Braden: Unlike my fellow Trek fan Joel, I should be interested in seeing this movie but I'm not. And I don't know anyone who wants to see it or hasn't said the trailers looked lousy. I expect it to have a lot of trouble reaching $150 million.

Jim Van Nest: I wouldn't be surprised at all to learn that this is actually a very good film that doesn't do the box office it deserves. I don't know that the Star Trek audience is that big anymore and I think the box office will reflect it. $140-160 million sounds about right. I'll wager that the next film will be bigger.

Reagen Sulewski: I kind of compare it to Casino Royale a bit - audiences have been burned on the franchise and will need a bit of convincing. The recent campaigns look great but I would guess most people are saying "who the hell are these guys?" A lot's going to depend on the quality, but I can see it in the $180 million range.

Pete Kilmer: I'm really torn on it. I love Star Trek and have loved all the footage I've seen so far, I've been a fan of JJ Abrams' stuff for years now, and loved the comic prequel Countdown. It's the first A-Level Star Trek Movie since Star Trek: The Motion Picture (which was an A+ production) I'm totally and I mean totally geared up for it, without having seen it, I think it has a shot at finishing at $150 million, which was its budget.

I really hope it's a home run for everyone involved.


David Mumpower: The complexity in discussing Star Trek movies and their box office is that the conversation seems quite cut and dried in terms of actual dollars. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home is the ONLY film in franchise history to earn $100 million. The shocking stat here is that only one Star Trek film has opened to $30 million. First Contact debuted to $30.7 million and, even if we adjust for inflation on this total, we're still only talking about a $50 million debut. This has never been a franchise known for massive opening weekends. Instead, Paramount has counted on a loyal fanbase to repeatedly return to the theater to keep afloat indefinitely. It's because of this that while in actual dollars, only one of the films has earned $100 million, adjusting for inflation takes eight titles over that mark and even the second biggest bomb, The Final Frontier, is at $95 million. Only Insurrection is an out and out failure with the first Star Trek movie inflation-adjusting to $236 million and The Voyage Home inflation-adjusting to $208 million. In these terms, the upside for a new film is much larger. Using 2009 ticket price adjustment, there have been ticket sales of $150 million or more for five out of the ten Star Trek titles, the two previously mentioned as $200+ million earners plus First Contact, The Wrath of Khan and The Search for Spock. So, if we aren't arbitrary about actual dollars, there is cause for optimism about the potential box office here.

The question becomes whether Insurrection and the failed Enterprise television show have left a lingering bad taste in the mouths of would-be Trekkies (if you even think about saying "we prefer Trekkers", go shove a comm badge where the sun don't shine). Does the presence of JJ Abrams and a trip back to the genesis of Captain Kirk and Spock renew interest in the same way Reagen mentioned about James Bond? I'm inclined to say yes, but it's important to note that Abrams delivered an absolutely brilliant film with Mission: Impossible 3 yet no one seemed to care. With a $47.7 million opening and $133.5 million domestically, it's generally considered a disappointment although worldwide receipts actually brought it up to $400 million worldwide and made it a winner. The other thing to keep in mind is that Star Trek is going to be subject to far reaching, potentially unreasonable expectations. Would a similar $50 million debut and $135 million domestic performance be enough to satisfy critics? I'm inclined to say no, but I expect it to do better than that. I am thinking a $75 million debut is in line with final box office in the range of $160 million, which would make it the biggest Star Trek film by $50 million in terms of actual dollars.

Kim Hollis: I think this movie looks awful. I like JJ Abrams a lot and agree that Mission: Impossible 3 was terrific. I also very much love Simon Pegg, who's playing Scotty in this reboot. Beyond that, though, I see very little reason for excitement or optimism. The trailers I've seen have left me cold and the television commercials have me noticing only how bad the acting seems to be. I'm thinking that people will be put off by the virtual unknown actors filling the roles of Shatner and Nimoy. I think this is the movie with the biggest potential to disappoint this summer.

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