Paramount’s “Star Trek” launched in stellar fashion during the weekend as the sci-fi prequel soared to $76.5 million in estimated domestic boxoffice during its stretched first frame.
Thursday evening previews contributed $4 million to the total and midnight Thursday performances $3 million as the well-reviewed film reinvigorated the studio’s storied franchise with an opening smack in the middle of an unusually broad range of prerelease forecasts. Paramount execs had said they’d be pleased if “Trek” traveled north of $50 million during its first session.
Fox’s Hugh Jackman starrer “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” finished second during the weekend, falling 68% from its opening grosses to register $27 million and push its 10-day cume to $129.6 million. Warner Bros.’ romantic comedy “Ghosts of Girlfriends Past,” starring Matthew McConaughey and Jennifer Garner, fell a modest 32% during its sophomore session to $10.5 million in third place, with a $30.2 million cume.
Summit Entertainment’s urban-targeted action title “Next Day Air” bowed on the low end of prerelease expectations with $4 million in sixth place.
Industrywide, the $150 million weekend notched a 20% improvement compared with the same frame last year, Nielsen EDI said.
Overall, 2009 is pacing 9% ahead of a year earlier at $3.26 billion. The year-to-date uptick appears more modest because of seasonal fluctuations in the boxoffice calendar.
Among this weekend’s limited openers, Sony Pictures Classics’ Diego Luna-Gael Garcia Bernal starrer “Rudo y Cursi” unspooled in 70 bicoastal locations and grossed $210,647, or an acceptable $3,009 per site.
SPC’s Atom Egoyan-directed “Adoration” bowed in 10 theaters in New York, Los Angeles, Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver, grossing $43,734, or a sturdy $4,373 per venue.
And the Spanish historical drama “Little Ashes,” from Regent Releasing and Here Media, opened in 12 locations, grossing $77,000, or a solid $6,416 per site.
Elsewhere in the specialty market, Vitagraph’s fashion documentary “Valentino: The Last Emperor” added 10 playdates for a total of 37 and grossed $93,000, or an average of $2,513 per engagement. “Valentino’s” cume hit $830,040.
And Focus Features’ Jim Jarmusch-directed thriller “The Limits of Control” added eight locations for a total of 11 and grossed $47,243, or $4,295 per site. Its cume is $127,018.
“Trek” made good use of positive word-of-mouth during the weekend to build on a core franchise fan base and tap into more youthful demos. Weekend grosses, fattened by outsized receipts in 138 Imax giant-screen venues, peaked with particularly robust Saturday night business.
Imax’s $8 million in “Trek” loot bested by $2 million its previous top haul with last year’s “The Dark Knight.”
“Our network of auditoriums has been virtually sold out the entire weekend,” Imax Filmed Entertainment chief Greg Foster said.
Helmed by J.J. Abrams, “Trek” features Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto as Capt. James Kirk and Spock, respectively. The bow marked personal bests for all three and for Abrams topped the $47.7 million opening of “Mission: Impossible III” in May 2006.
The successful “Trek” debut puts the prequel on track for a potential franchise-best theatrical run as its opening easily topped those of the previous 10 films in the space-exploration saga.
The “Trek” franchise’s previous installment, 2002’s “Star Trek: Nemesis,” unspooled with $18.5 million and rang up $43.3 million domestically. The top opener among all previous “Trek” releases came from 1996’s “Star Trek: First Contact,” which debuted with $30.7 million and rang up $92 million domestically.
Execs positioned “Trek” as a franchise reboot, much like Warners’ 2005 Batman prequel “Batman Begins.” Produced for a reported $140 million, “Trek” has Spyglass Entertainment as a 25% equity participant.
Rated R, “Air” was directed by hip-hop video director Benny Boom and stars rapper-actor Mos Def and Donald Faison (ABC’s “Scrubs”).
The release targeted core support among urban moviegoers, but no demographic information was available regarding opening audiences.
Looking ahead, Sony has this weekend’s only wide opener: Imagine Entertainment’s adaptation of the Dan Brown best-seller “Angels & Demons.” Again helmed by Ron Howard, with Tom Hanks reprising his role as Vatican expert Robert Langdon, “Angels” effectively is a sequel to May 2006’s “The Da Vinci Code,” a $541 million worldwide grosser.
That will make for three straight weekends, during the summer boxoffice’s first three sessions, in which a studio has opened a tentpole release. It will bear watching whether such high-profile films can co-exist in the competitive marketplace as the balance of the all-important season will see a similar succession of major releases. (partialdiff)