"Star Trek" finished its four-day debut with $72.5 million. J.J. Abrams' re-imagining of Gene Roddenberry's 43-year-old franchise exceeded Paramount's expectations, but did not outdo "X-Men Origins: Wolverine's" $85 million debut last weekend.
"Trek" took in about $4 million in pre-midnight screenings on Thursday, according to Hollywood.com. Paramount reports the film made $30.8 million on Friday, $27.4 million on Saturday and estimates the cumulative box office gross will be $72.5 million after Sunday.
The sci-fi adventure broke "The Dark Knight's" record for biggest debut weekend gross on IMAX screenings. "Trek" scored $8.2 million in IMAX screenings; "Knight" made $6.3 million on IMAX screens last summer.
"Wolverine" fell 68 percent into the No. 2 spot with $27 million. "Ghosts of Girlfriends Past" stayed strong at No. 3 with $10.4 million followed by "Obsessed" ($6.6 million), and "17 Again" ($4.4 million).
Top Ten Estimates from Hollywood.com:
1. Star Trek - $76.5 m (including $4 million from Thursday)
2. X-Men Origins: Wolverine - $27 m
3. Ghosts of Girlfriends Past - $10.4 m
4. Obsessed - $6.6 m
5. 17 Again - $4.4 m
6. Next Day Air - $4 m
7. The Soloist - $3.6 m
8. Monsters vs. Aliens - $3.3 m
9. Earth - $2.48 m
10. Hannah Montana the Movie - $2.41 m
"Star Trek" took in $24 million on Friday, increasing its two-day total to $30.5 million. Paramount told the Associated Press that J.J. Abrams' sci-fi adventure should reach $70 million for the weekend. "Wolverine" made $35 million last Friday.
But estimates from studio insiders predict "Trek" will finish with 67.5 million for the weekend.
STAR TREK $67.5 m
X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE $28.3 m
GHOSTS OF GIRLFRIENDS PAST $10.6 m
OBSESSED $6.7 m
17 AGAIN $4.3 m
NEXT DAY AIR $4.2 m
MONSTERS VS. ALIENS $4.1 m
THE SOLOIST $3.6 m
HANNAH MONTANA: THE MOVIE $2.7 m
EARTH $2.4 m
UPDATE: J.J. Abrams' reboot of the "Star Trek" franchise has brought in about $6.5 million at its Thursday evening opening, according to estimates. Based on tracking, it's expected to reach from $65 to $75 million for the weekend, far short of the $85 million earned by last weekend's "X-Men Origins: Wolverine."
Paramount and J.J. Abrams’ long-awaited re-imagining of “Star Trek” could get to $75 million this weekend as it opens in 3,500 theaters starting at at 7 p.m. Thursday.
But it remains to be seen how big of a bite it will take out of “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” which stormed theaters last weekend with an $85 million debut.
There are some indicators that suggest “Star Trek,” which opens day-and-date in most territories, could actually match the opening of “Wolverine.”
Paramount’s considerable marketing machine has been working overtime: Moviegoers can’t get away from “Star Trek’s” multiple trailers, print and online advertising; piles of merchandise; and interviews with J.J. Abrams and the film’s young cast on every media platform.
The critics are also pushing “Trek,” which is opening on 135 Imax screens. Sixty three of the 67 “Trek” reviews posted on Rotten Tomatoes are positive -- many are raves -- for Abrams’ fresh take on the iconic series.
MovieTickets.com reports that 387 screenings have sold out; “Trek” also accounts for 83 percent of all the site’s ticket sales.
But there are some obstacles. Early tracking shows the sci-fi adventure is performing well with men over 25, but not so much with males under 25 -- a demographic that was key to pushing “Wolverine” to $85 million.
It could be that the crucial under-25 audience won’t rush out to see the reimaging of an unfamiliar, 43-year-old series that isn't part of the recent sci-fi scene like “Battlestar Galactica” and “Transformers.”
The last movie featuring the cast of Gene Roddenberry’s original TV show, “Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country,” debuted in 1991. Many sci-fi fans considered the original series to have been put to rest when Captain Kirk died in 1994’s “Star Trek: Generations.”
By comparison, Wolverine and his fellow X-men are a familiar brand to those under 25. The last "X-Men" film, “X-Men: The Last Stand,” was in theaters only three years ago.
Based on tracking data, Paramount (VIA) is comparing “Star Trek’s” prospects with other features that re-introduced decades-old brands to new audiences. “Superman Returns” made $53 million on its debut weekend in 2006. “Batman Begins” had a $48.7 million debut in 2005.
“Paramount is trying to keep expectations reigned in,” said Paul Dergarabedian, box office analyst for Hollywood.com. “I can’t imagine this doing (only) $40 or 50 million on opening weekend. This is the film that’s going to define the summer season of ’09 and make a huge impression.”
“IMAX is also going to be a huge compliment to ‘Trek.’ IMAX sales could be the difference between $100 million and over $100 million,” Degarabedian said. "Wolverine" did not appear on any IMAX screens.
“The film has appeal to non-trekkies. It has JJ Abrams, sex appeal and a crossover (appeal) that creates these massive opening weekends," Degarabedian continued.
The other newcomer this weekend is “Next Day Air,” an R-rated comedy starring Donald Faison and Mos Des opening on 1,000 screens. A representative of “Air’s” distributor Summit said the studio expects it to made $4 to $5 million.
“The movie is tracking well with African American and Hispanic males," the Summit rep said.
Minority audiences have been influential at the box office this year, helping “Madea Goes to Jail” to set new box office records in February. Of course, Perry fans will undoubtedly want to sneak into “Star Trek,” as well, to catch a certain cameo.