Star Trek Boldly Goes Forward… Somehow
By John Hamann
July 24, 2016
Star Trek Beyond got started with $5.5 million from Thursday previews, higher than Into Darkness (it opened on a Wednesday) and better than Star Trek’s $4 million (it opened on a Thursday). I hope that Paramount and Bad Robot enjoyed the party on Thursday night as that is where the good news ends. The Friday number came in at $22.5 million, comparatively similar to the two earlier films, but again these comparisons are wonky given the odd release strategies of the two earlier films. Given that on paper, Star Trek Into Darkness is a good, fan-friendly film, this has to be a disappointment for the studio, as it is the second consecutive time a Star Trek film has opened under the previous effort.
Following the original’s opening weekend take of $75.2 million and the $70.2 million Star Trek Into Darkness debut, Star Trek Beyond found a new depth for the domestic opening. Beyond opened to only $59.6 million, another $10.6 million down from the second film, as this series starts to look like a deflating hot air balloon. Reviews and Cinemascores were generally good (85%/A- Cinemascore) with the Cinemascore down slightly from an A for Into Darkness. Overall grosses have been declining as well, as the reboot earned $257.7 million, and the follow up earned $228 million. At this rate, this one should clear $200 million, and then have to rely even further on overseas grosses.
Overseas is where the only hope lies for Paramount. The original earned $127 million overseas while the sequel earned $238 million (but also starred Benedict Cumberbatch). Should the Star Trek franchise continue to have an upward trajectory overseas, these films will make money at these budgets. Should this one top out between these two figures, I think Paramount needs to take a cold hard look at whether $200 million plus marketing is a good investment for a return like this one.
Finishing second this weekend is The Secret Life of Pets, the now three-weekend-old animated film from Illumination and Universal. Pets earned another $29.3 million this weekend and dropped 42% following a 51% drop last weekend. That’s probably a little higher than Universal would have liked, but it brings the domestic total up to $260.7 million after only three frames. This one is going to cross $300 million in a few weekends and join what is sure to be a mighty overseas gross, which already stands at $63 million, despite only being released in a few countries. The Secret Life of Pets carries a budget of only $75 million – peanuts compared to its compatriots – and is only going to mint money going forward.
Third spot goes to Ghostbusters, or the reboot of Ghostbusters or the reimagining of Ghostbusters – whatever it is, I don’t really care. The Paul Feig flick picked up $21.6 million after opening to $56 million last weekend. That proves to be a 53% drop and stings for a film that cost a ridiculous $144 million to make. Should little support come from overseas, Sony is going to have a large headache on their hands instead of a nicely rebooted franchise. This one has felt like everyone tried too hard, and the outcome is a scary gross to date of $86.9 million.