Friday Box Office Analysis

by Tim Briody

May 18, 2013

I do not like these guys' chances.

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Star Trek Into Darkness

After a well-received and popular reboot, the second Star Trek film from J.J. Abrams, Star Trek Into Darkness, arrived in theaters on Thursday and started with $13.5 million. This was a curiously low number, but not one that really was any cause for alarm as the move was recent and may not have been well advertised.

The Friday number is here and suddenly, there is now a good deal to worry about. Star Trek Into Darkness earned $22 million. The 2009 reboot started off with $30.9 million, so this…this is a problem.

It's also a problem with no immediate explanation. One of our firm beliefs here is that the quality of the previous film buys the opening weekend of the sequel. Give them something good and it will gain an audience over time, which translates into a higher opening. Star Trek, of course, was a fantastic film, lauded by critics (95% at Rotten Tomatoes!) and even considered by long time Star Trek fans as the best film in the series; as David Mumpower pointed out yesterday, it's got the highest IMDb rating among the franchise.


And despite that previous paragraph, whose conclusions all indicated that Star Trek was ready to crack $100 million this weekend, that…was not the case here. As non-Friday openings are a pet peeve of mine, the Thursday release makes this opening look even worse than it actually is, as if you add in the Thursday figure to Friday, you get $35.5 million. If that had been the Friday figure, we'd be talking about a disappointing jump, not a disastrous drop from the relaunch. So, cut that out, studios. Please.

While we have long stated there is never a finite amount of box office dollars available over any given weekend, perhaps Into Darkness came too soon after Iron Man 3 and positioning itself before Memorial Day weekend and the two additional high profile sequels coming next week was too much in a short time period (even though Star Trek did just fine on this weekend four years ago.) It's a specious explanation, but there is just no immediately obvious explanation for the soft start for Into Darkness.

The 2009 reboot had a 2.56 multiplier. If Into Darkness duplicates that feat, we have an epic disaster on our hands. Given that the Thursday opening appeared to have some effect on Friday's take, I expect it to post a considerably better multiplier than Star Trek did. Even an extremely generous 3.0 multiplier, which is not a sure thing, is a $66 million weekend and $79.5 million in four days. That's right, it would take a multiplier that's likely on the high end of reasonability for the first four days of Into Darkness box office to match what Star Trek earned in three days.

We are not burying Star Trek Into Darkness just yet. Perhaps it will hold its own over Memorial Day weekend, although it will still have to deal with The Hangover Part 3 and Fast and Furious 6. We'll reserve judgement on that for next weekend. In this era where it simply makes sense for an A-list sequel to open higher than the previous entry, where two weeks ago Iron Man 3 improved nearly $50 million from Iron Man 2, we have the first high profile tentpole to fall flat.

The Great Gatsby

Last weekend's surprise $50 million opener, The Great Gatsby falls a fairly predictable 60.3% to $7.7 million. It's still well on its way to the $100 million mark, and will fall just short by the end of the weekend but will cross it on Monday or Tuesday. Look for a second weekend of $22.7 million.



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