Box Office Preview: Can 'Star Trek Into Darkness' Beam Up $100 Million Launch?

In Shatner's Shadow
Paramount Pictures

Pine says stepping into Kirk's shoes was more daunting than taking over as Jack Ryan -- a part played by Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford and Ben Affleck. "Obviously, William Shatner put an iconic stamp on [Kirk]," he told Digital Spy.

The Paramount sequel returns Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto in the roles of Captain James T. Kirk and Spock.

The USS Enterprise takes flight once again in North America as J.J. Abrams' sequel Star Trek Into Darkness -- marking the 12th installment in the sci-fi franchise -- begins rolling out in theaters Wednesday night.

Based on pre-release tracking, box office observers believe Star Trek Into Darkness, from Paramount and Skydance, has a strong shot of crossing $100 million in its four-day debut, by far the best result of any title in the series.

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Abrams' 2009 origin pic Star Trek opened to $75.2 million over the May 8-10 weekend. Star Trek Into Darkness returns Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto in the roles of Captain James T. Kirk and Spock, respectively. Other returning castmembers include Zoe Saldana, Anton Yelchin, Simon Pegg, John Cho and Karl Urban.

Bryan Burk produced both films with Abrams, who directed Star Trek Into Darkness from a script by Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman and Damon Lindelof.

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This time, a scheming villain played by Benedict Cumberbatch resorts to terrorism to threaten Earth.

Star Trek Into Darkness opened in select foreign markets last weekend, where it outpaced the 2009 film by 70 percent, taking in north of $31 million from seven territories. The space-set franchise has never been as popular overseas, but Paramount is determined to improve its standing.