Paramount's franchise reboot tops box office

Paramount’s “Star Trek” has successfully beamed up, debuting to $76.5 million at the domestic box office, including $4 million in Thursday night runs.

Overseas — where the sci-fi franchise has never played well –”Star Trek” likewise posted solid numbers, grossing $35.5 million from 5,000 locations in 54 markets for a worldwide bow of $106 million.

Par insiders said the film’s No. 1 standing in the U.S. and abroad reinforces the decision to go ahead with the sequel (Daily Variety, March 30).

Weekend’s other new wide release was Summit Entertainment’s urban comedy “Next Day Air,” which struggled to find an aud. Pic grossed $4 million from 1,138 runs to place No. 6.

“Star Trek,” directed by J.J. Abrams, grabbed the second-best domestic opening of the year after 20th Century Fox’s “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” which bowed to $85 million last weekend.

Faced with direct competition from “Star Trek,” “Wolverine” declined a steep 68% in its second sesh to an estimated $27 million to place No. 2 for the frame. Domestic cume is $129.6 million.

Teen girls and women were clearly seeking alternatives to the two actioners. In its second weekend, Warner Bros. and New Line’s romantic comedy “Ghosts of Girlfriends Past” dipped a skimpy 32% to an estimated $10.5 million from 3,175, placing No. 3 for the weekend; cume is $30.2 million. Sony Pictures’ “Obsessed” and Warner’s “17 Again” also held well, coming in Nos. 4 and 5, respectively.

Overseas, “Star Trek” and “Wolverine” were in a closer race, with “Star Trek” coming in lower than “Wolverine’s” $73.1 million foreign debut the previous weekend. In its second sesh overseas, “Wolverine” fell 59% to $29.7 million from 9,000 screens in 102 markets. Foreign cume is $123.7 million, and worldwide tally is $253.3 million in its first 10 days.

Heading into the weekend, Paramount knew the well-reviewed “Star Trek” had formidable challenges to overcome. Younger generations generally aren’t as enthusiastic about the franchise, which spawned 10 films, the last of which, “Star Trek: Nemesis,” was released in 2002.

Abrams’ pic, which targeted youthful auds with a young cast and plenty of action, still appealed heavily to adults — 65% of those in the aud were over age 25, but enough of a range turned out to satisfy Paramount.

In a promising sign of the film’s good word of mouth, “Star Trek” was up slightly from Friday to Saturday, a point even rival studios commented on.

“J.J. Abrams did everything we could have asked for in re-energizing this franchise and making a fantastic movie for everyone,” said Par vice chair Rob Moore.

“Star Trek,” followed by “Wolverine,” led another up weekend at the domestic box office, with revs running as much as 22% over the same weekend last year in a promising start for the summer season.

“Star Trek” was a boon for Imax as well. Imax theaters generated $8.3 million in tickets sales, or 11% of the film’s entire gross. “Star Trek” played in 138 Imax theaters, where most of the shows sold out.

“The DNA of ‘Star Trek’ and Imax are a perfect match,” Imax’s Greg Foster said.

It’s not ideal to have two films with overlapping auds like “Star Trek” and “Wolverine” open one week apart. Also, “Wolverine” is part of a healthy current franchise.

Fanboy-driven films often see big drops in their second weekend, but “Wolverine’s” was more than most, and likely due to the entry of “Star Trek.”

However, “X-Men: The Last Stand” also saw a big drop, declining 67% in its second frame, even with no direct competitor. That film cumed $234 million domestically.

Next weekend will pose a crucial test for “Start Trek” and, to a lesser extent, “Wolverine.” That’s the last frame before Warner Bros.’ “Terminator Salvation” bows.

“Wolverine’s” strong run overseas could give it an advantage. In its second weekend at the foreign box office, “Wolverine” held the No. 1 slot in 22 markets, including all Latin American territories, China, Belgium, the Philippines and Hong Kong.

For the weekend, “Wolverine” grabbed its top figures in the U.K. with $3.3 million, France with $3.25 million and Brazil with $2.3 million — beating “Star Trek” in the latter two territories.

“For ‘Wolverine’ to gross nearly $130 million in 10 days domestically, and over $253 million worldwide, is sensational in a competitive marketplace,” said Fox senior VP of distribution Chris Aronson.

In its foreign debut, which included a respectable $7,100 per-location average, “Star Trek” saw its best numbers from territories where the franchise had a more successful history — the U.K. at $8.8 million, Germany with $4.6 million and Australia with $3.4 million.

But Par said the film’s performance in other territories was promising as well. Pic opened to $2.8 million in France, $2.3 million in Russia and $2.2 million in South Korea.

In terms of comparable franchise reboots, “Star Trek” opened ahead of Warner Bros.’ “Batman Begins” both domestically and internationally, although by only 3% overseas. In North America, “Batman Begins” opened to roughly $49 million.

The specialty box office remained lackluster, with few bright spots among indies or docus.

SPC’s “Rudo y Cursi” posted a per-screen average of only $3,009 as it opened in 70 theaters. Film reteams Diego Luna and Gael Garcia Bernal for the first time since “Y tu mama tambien.”

Regent Releasing’s “Little Ashes” posted a sturdy per-screen average of $6,416 as it grossed $77,000 from 12 runs. The historical drama explores the relationship between Salvador Dali and Federico Garcia Lorca and stars Robert Pattinson and Javier Beltran.

Atom Egoyan’s “Adoration” drew a per-location average of $4,372 in its debut. The Sony Pictures Classics title grossed $43,734 from 10 runs.

Among holdovers, SPC’s “Every Little Step” posted a per-screen average of $3,649, grossing $87,580 from 24 theaters for a cume of $343,078 in its fourth week.

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