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‘Star Trek’ In Overdrive with $79.5 Million

J.J. Abrams’ franchise reinvention stokes Paramount; Fox’s ”Wolverine“ tumbles 68%.

Paramount and J.J. Abrams’ “Star Trek” reinvention went into overdrive over the weekend, reaping $79.5 million from Thursday night through Sunday.


The release fell short of last weekend’s $85 million debut of Fox’s "X-Men Origins: Wolverine." 


The box office was up 20 percent, compared with this weekend in 2008. Box office revenue for all of 2009 has now increased 16 percent, and attendance is up 13.4 percent from 2008.


“Trek” set an impressive record for biggest debut weekend on IMAX screens: Abrams’ film scored $8.2 million on 134 screens; "The Dark Knight" grossed $6.3 million on IMAX screens last summer.


Abrams’ adventure got a huge bump on Friday, when moviegoers shelled out $30.8 million. “Star Trek” picked up $27.4 million on Saturday and $4 million in pre-midnight screenings on Thursday.


The sci-fi adventure also did far better than the debut weekends for other prequels of long-running franchises, such as 2006’s “Superman Returns” and 2005 “Batman Begins,” which debuted with $53 million and $48.7 million, respectively.


"Star Trek: Nemesis" opened with $18.5 million in December 2002. "Star Trek: Insurrection" grossed $22.1 million in December 1998. Don Haber, Paramount’s exec vice president of distribution, said the studio counted on “Trek” beaming up $40-50 million.


“It was never going to beat ‘Wolverine.’ Pre-release tracking said if it did $50 million, people would be stunned,” Haber told TheWrap.


Early tracking reports showed that younger audiences were less inclined to see “Trek” because they were not familiar with Gene Roddenberry’s 43-year-old franchise. Moviegoers under 25 are far more familiar with Wolverine.


"Wolverine” had a bigger debut, but the X-Men adventure fell 68 percent its second weekend, landing in the No. 2 spot with $27 million.


“‘Wolverine’ wont hold up well over time,” Haber said. “’Star Trek’ is going in one direction, ‘X Men’ is going in another. Not only did it open to a number above predictions, it’s going to have healthy multiples. It’s going to stay around.”


Paul Dergarabedian, box office analyst for Hollywood.com, agreed that “Trek” will progress in the box office thanks to rave reviews.


“The film will show major ‘legs’ in the comings weeks with strong word-of-mouth propelling it well beyond the opening weekend,” he said.


Warner Bros.’ “Ghosts of Girlfriends Past,” starring Matthew McConaughey and Jennifer Garner, garnered $10.4 million. “Obsessed” followed with $6.6 million and “17 Again” rounded out the top five with $4.4 million.


The weekend’s other new entrant “Next Day Air” was No. 6 with $4 million.


The box office hasn’t seen anything yet, if Sony has anything to say about it. Sony’s “Angels & Demons” will be the next weekend’s debut tentpole. The PG-13 sequel to The Da Vinci Code” probably won’t hit “Wolverine” numbers, but it could match “Star Trek.” “Da Vinci” opened with $77.1 million in May, 2006.