‘Star Trek’ Sequel: Early Tracking Suggests $85 Million Launch

Paramount and Skydance's $185 million pic opens May 17

“Star Trek Into Darkness” (Par)

Star Trek Into Darkness” is about to go where no “Star Trek” has gone before at the domestic box office.

According to early tracking, Paramount and Skydance Productions’ sequel to 2009’s “Star Trek,” opening three weeks from Friday on May 17, is gearing up for a stellar $85 million opening, which would mark a record debut for the sci-fi franchise.

Analysts suggest the 3D actioner could exceed $90 million, depending on word of mouth. Pre-release buzz has been building steadily for the film starting as early as December when Paramount released the film’s first teaser trailer.

J.J. Abrams’ first installment in the re-imagined sci-fi series earned $70 million during its opening weekend before going on to cume $385 million worldwide.

Star Trek Into Darkness,” which was made on a budget of $185 million, was filmed in 2D and converted to 3D in post production.  Pic will also screen in Imax.

Despite its U.S. projection, one of “Star Trek’s” biggest hurdles will be overseas, where the first feature struggled to beam up audiences, earning just $125 million. Sequels usually fare better, however.

Co-starring Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto and Benedict Cumberbatch as the villian, “Star Trek” has been marketed as a much bigger and more explosive installment than its predecessor.

“In the first film, Kirk got the chair a bit too prematurely,” Pine recently said  at CinemaCon. “In this installment, we see Kirk earn the chair.”

Par’s “Star Trek” sequel will face the superhero leftovers of Disney-Marvel’s “Iron Man 3,” which opens in 46 overseas markets this weekend, followed by a Stateside launch on May 3.

“Iron Man 3,” Marvel’s first post-“Avengers” feature, is heading for a massive $120 million opening in the U.S. Pic collected $13.2 million from overseas in its first day.