‘Star Trek Into Darkness’ Lifts Off With $3.3M From Imax, Midnight Shows (Updated)

'Star Trek Into Darkness' Lifts Off With $3.3M From Imax, Midnight Shows (Updated)

Paramount's space epic sequel is expected to knock off "Iron Man 3" at box office this weekend

“Star Trek Into Darkness” has launched with $3.3 million from Wednesday night screenings at 336 Imax 3D theaters and some midnight shows, Paramount Pictures reported.

J.J. Abrams‘ space epic sequel opened nationwide Thursday in 3,762 theaters and is expected to knock “Iron Man 3” out of the top spot at the box office this weekend. It could take in more than $100 million over its extended debut weekend, analysts say.

Expectations surged after Paramount announced sellouts for Wednesday night's shows in New York, L.A., San Francisco and other major markets and moved the wide release date up a day, from Friday to Thursday.

Also read: How the Battle Over 'Star Trek' Rights Killed J.J. Abrams' Grand Ambitions

"Star Trek Into Darkness" accounted for 71 percent of online ticket broker Fandango's sales earlier this week, and rival Movietickets.com on Thursday reported more than 400 sellouts. The reviews have been very strong; it has an 87 percent positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Paramount and director Abrams successfully re-launched the franchise in 2009 with “Star Trek,” which brought in more than $255 million domestically. The sequel is expected to do even better for producers Paramount, Skydance Pictures and Abrams’ Bad Robot Productions, especially overseas. The production budget was $190 million and there's been a major marketing push behind the film.

Chris Pine returns as Capt. Kirk, and is rejoined by Zach Quinto (Spock), Zoe Saldana (Lt. Uhura), Karl Urban (Bones), John Cho (Sulu), Anton Yelchin (Chekov) and Simon Pegg (Scotty). British actor Benedict Cumberbatch comes aboard as the baddie Khan. Robert Orci and Alex Kurtzman, along with Damon Lindelof, wrote the screenplay.