Bold Box Office for Star Trek
By John Hamann
May 10, 2009
For J.J. Abrams, director and producer of the Star Trek reboot, this is another huge feather in his cap. The man behind Lost, Fringe, Alias, Felicity, Mission: Impossible III, and Cloverfield has now successfully re-invented and reinvigorated a storied franchise that had run into tough times. Mission: Impossible III had slightly disappointed at the box office, with a $47 million opening and $133.5 million finish; Cloverfield opened huge ($40 million) but then imploded, finishing with only an $80 million total. The monster movie did do well overseas ($90 million) so Cloverfield finished with $170 million against a production budget of only $25 million. Star Trek finally removes any stigma Abrams may have had in graduating from successful TV man to successful movie man.
So with a big opening, where does Star Trek go from here? These films have never been extremely leggy, topping out with an opening weekend-to-total domestic gross multiplier between 2.5 and 3.0, at least for the last few films. Paramount would like to keep that multiplier where it is, and apply it to a much bigger opening. I think anything over $200 million domestically will be a big win for the studio, if international grosses are healthy. Paramount has a few things on its side, including stellar reviews. Star Trek has an outstanding 96% fresh rating from the nation's critics at RottenTomatoes, and a slightly lower 91% from the cream of the crop. That's a grand score, considering The Dark Knight was 94% fresh and Iron Man 93% fresh. Star Trek's big critical miss comes from Roger Ebert, who still has some pull with moviegoers. Ebert, like some of the more hardcore Trek fans, pines for the Roddenberry days of Star Trek, an issue that may effect repeat viewings from the fanbase of this one.
Finishing second this weekend is X-Men Origins: Wolverine, last weekend's $85 million opener. With Star Trek dominating this weekend, there were many questions as to how far Wolverine would fall. The drop was dramatic: Wolverine earned $27 million, giving the comic book star a weekend-to-weekend drop of 68%. Wolverine had more trouble than just Star Trek this weekend. It also had to deal with some hefty negative word-of-mouth that has been dumped on it by both fans and critics. This may have been enough to either keep folks at home or propel them towards Star Trek. Despite opening to $85 million, Wolverine still had to wait until Thursday to cross the $100 million mark. Currently the Fox $140 million production has earned $129.6 million domestically and $80 million overseas, meaning that a $200 million finish is no longer likely.
Ghosts of Girlfriends Past finishes third, as the aptly scheduled rom-com provides further counter-programming to fanboy nirvana in Star Trek and Wolverine. Thanks to being one of the very few options for women, Ghosts had a decent hold, earning $10.5 million and falling 32%. This one now has a running total of $30.2 million and will most likely top out around $60 million.
Fourth goes to Obsessed with Beyonce and Ali Larter. After dropping 58% last weekend, the trajectory on this one doesn't improve much. The Screen Gems flick earned $6.6 million in its third weekend and falls 45%. The studio doesn't care, as this was made for $20 million and has taken in an excellent $56.2 million so far.