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Paramount is determined to improve the franchise’s standing overseas, where Trekkie mania has never fully taken hold. To that end, the studio decided to whip up interest by opening the 3D tentpole first internationally, including in several countries where Abrams’ Star Trek did the best the last time out.
Into Darkness, opening in the U.S. on May 16, returns Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto in the roles of James T. Kirk and Spock, respectively.
In those markets where Star Trek films have seen their strongest business — U.K., Australia and Germany — aggregate grosses for Into Darkness were 56 percent ahead of Abrams’ 2009 reboot.
The real test for Paramount came in Mexico, New Zealand and German-speaking Switzerland, where the space-set franchise has never been especially popular. The results: Into Darkness paced 250 percent ahead of the 2009 film.
Mexico was of particular importance, since sci-fi isn’t a favored genre there (it’s also one of the biggest markets for 3D fare). Into Darkness took in a stellar $3 million from 573 locations, triple the opening of the 2009 film.
“That’s what we were really for. Mexico is a great Barometer,” says Paramount vice chairman Rob Moore. “The first movie certainly laid the groundwork for anyone who is a Star Trek fan. We want this film to cross over and create new fans.”
The U.K. led with $13.3 million from 556 locations, 50 percent better than the 2009 reboot. Into Darkness also dominated the market in Germany, grossing $7.6 million from 627 locations, 80 percent better. Australia took in $5.5 million from 263 locations, 50 percent ahead of the 2009 movie.
Paramount has taken elaborate measures in marketing Into Darkness overseas, including dispatching producer Byran Burk to share 20 minutes of footage with media and distributors in numerous countries earlier this year.
Into Darkness continues its international rollout next week, including in Russia. On May 16, it opens in China. It’s already delivering strong results for Imax theaters, which took in $2.7 million over the weekend from $2.3 million.
In 2009, Star Trek grossed $257.7 million in North America and $128 million overseas, where most Hollywood tentpoles do far better.
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