JJ Abrams’ reboot of Paramount’s Star Trek franchise should take the No. 1 spot at the box office this weekend, easily doubling the biggest debut for the series: Star Trek: First Contact‘s $30.7 million weekend back in 1996. In fact, our box office experts think the previously dead series could scrounge up $65 million-$75 million based on strong reviews and online interest.
Earlier this week, studio execs were only expecting the film to make $60 million this weekend. That’s better than the debut for 2005’s Batman reboot, Batman Begins ($48.7 million) but not a very impressive total as far as summer movies go. Since then, numerous positive reviews and online buzz have studio execs and box-office prognosticators thinking the film could gross $65-$75 million. The movie has currently has a 94% freshness rating on rottentomatoes.com, down slightly from its 100% freshness rating earlier this week, and has drawn positive reviews from top critics Manohla Dargis at the New York Times, Owen Gleiberman at Entertainment Weekly, Kenneth Turan at the Los Angeles Times, Claudia Puig at USA Today, and Joe Morgenstern at The Wall Street Journal. Here’s just a sampling of what they’ve been saying:
- “A bright, shiny blast from a newly imagined past…directed with a sure touch and perfect tone by J. J. Abrams…”–Dargis, who’s rumoured to be feared by studio execs for her ability to kill a movie’s chances at the box office with a bad review.
- “[A] clever and infectious reboot of the amazingly enduring sci-fi classic…”–Gleiberman, who gives the film an “A-“
- “‘Star Trek,’ which was elegantly directed by J.J. Abrams, goes back with the express purpose of providing delight, and despite inevitable lapses it delivers the goods…”–Morgenstern
Hell, even we’re hooked now. The movie, which actually started screening last night at 7 p.m., pulling in $7 million overnight, has already outsold Wolverine, the first Transformers movie and the last Indiana Jones film in advance ticket sales. And 108 IMAX screenings, which should boost the film’s box office revenues thanks to their higher ticket prices, had sold out by Wednesday night.
But box-office expert Steve Mason warns not to read too much into all of the hype:
Make no mistake, this movie will open extraordinarily well, but it’s not going to play out as a typical front-loaded blockbuster. Moviegoers need time to shake off the disappointment of the final TV series Enterprise (starring Scott Bakula and canceled after four seasons) and the disastrous 2002 final film Star Trek: Nemesis ($43.3M domestic). It will take time for a new generation of fans to discover the magic of Gene Rodenberry’s vision of the future through Abrams’ magical lens…Let’s be honest. Prior to what, by all accounts, is Abrams’ full-on Lazarus-style resurrection of Kirk, Spock and The Enterprise, Star Trek was dead. Worse than dead, it has been considered “uncool.” That’s what Paramount is fighting in the marketplace, and realistically, even in its peak as a movie franchise, it wasn’t a powerhouse.
So, expect the film to open with $65 million-75 million, better than Batman Begins, but not a $100 million summer smash—yet. Those positive reviews, however, could help Star Trek live long and prosper at the box office for several weeks, boosting it to possibly a $200 million domestic total.
Meanwhile, last weekend’s box office champ, Wolverine, is expected to take a sizable 60-70% drop this weekend, thanks to its negative word of mouth, on par with X-Men: The Last Stand‘s 67% second-weekend decline. Hugh Jackman et. al should still gross $30 million this weekend, which means the film could recoup its $130 million production budget by Monday.
If all of those good reviews for Star Trek can’t convince women to see the rebooted sci-fi film, then Ghosts of Girlfriends Past should continue thriving as the only romantic comedy in the marketplace. Look for it to end up in third place with $7 million-9 million. Beyonce’s Obsessed should hold on in fourth place with $5 million-7 million, as the public’s finally decided the movie’s so bad, it’s good.
The weekend’s only other wide new release is Next Day Air, starring Mos Def and Scrubs‘ Donald Faison, which Summit picked up from Paramount, ironically. The R-rated comedy isn’t tracking very well, though, and will probably only make $4.5 million-6 million.
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