‘Star Trek Beyond’ Lifts Off With $5.5 Million on Thursday

Franchise film boasts strong start in 3,100 locations

Star Trek Chris Pine Zachary Quinto

“Star Trek Beyond” grossed an impressive $5.5 million in its preview screenings on Thursday night.

That’s a stellar beginning at the box office for Paramount and Skydance’s third installment of its reboot of the 50-year-old franchise. It’s in line with the $5.25 million that the most recent James Bond flick, “Spectre,” grossed in its first-night screenings last November. And it sets the U.S.S. Enterprise nicely on course for an anticipated $60 million opening weekend.

Meanwhile, fellow wide opener “Lights Out” from New Line banked $1.8 million in its first-night showings, and Fox and Blue Sky’s “Ice Age: Collision Course” brought in $850,000.

While “Star Trek Beyond” — which was directed by Justin Lin and made for $185 million — has been getting strong reviews, it looks to finish the weekend behind the debuts of J.J. Abrams‘ first two reboots in the long-running sci-fi franchise. “Star Trek” bowed to $75.2 million in 2009, and 2013’s “Star Trek Into Darkness” opened to $70.2 million.

Lin, who directed four movies in the “Fast & Furious” franchise, took over the helm from Abrams.

“Star Trek Beyond” stars Chris Pine, John Cho, Simon Pegg (who co-wrote the script), Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, Sofia Boutella and Idris Elba. The film also features one of the last performances of Anton Yelchin — who died tragically in a freak car accident just a month ago.

In the movie, the crew members of the Enterprise find themselves in yet another uncharted area of the universe, where they face an enigmatic foe (Elba) who tests their central beliefs as dutiful foot soldiers of the Federation.

“Star Trek Beyond” has an impressive 87 percent fresh rating on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes and a solid 70 score on Metacritic.

Also enjoying generally positive critical notices is “Lights Out,” which stars Teresa Palmer as a young woman who fights off a spooky entity that has attached itself to her mother (Maria Bello). The horror movie has an 81 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and a 57 on Metacritic.

It is due to make $15 million this weekend — much more than its $5 million budget.

“Ice Age: Collision Course,” on the other hand, has been savaged by critics, whose reviews amount to a terrible 12 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and 35 on Metacritic.

Featuring returning voice cast members Ray Romano as Manny, John Leguizamo as Sid, Jennifer Lopez as Shira, Denis Leary as Diego and Queen Latifah as Ellie, the family franchise film — the fifth in its series — cost $105 million. The studio predicts a $25 million opening, while experts expect something closer to a $40 million weekend.