Final Numbers In – Star Trek Breaks Franchise & IMAX Records + Outperforming Batman Begins May 11, 2009by Rosario T. Calabria , Filed under: CBS/Paramount,Star Trek (2009 film) , trackback
We now have the final opening weekend box office numbers for "Star Trek" and the results are quite impressive. Not only did the film out-pace initial expectations, but it even out-performed studio estimates en route to a $79,204,289 opening weekend + $35.5M from foreign box office. Head on through the jump for extended details and analysis.
The Thursday night previews for "Star Trek" (from 7:00pm-midnight) generated $4 million. That spring-boarded into a Friday opening day of $26.89M (including 12:01 screenings), a 1% bump on Saturday to $27.25M and a drop of just 23% to $21.06M on Sunday for what amounts to a Fri-Sat-Sun gross of $75.2M and $79.2M overall when including Thursday night screenings. That figure more than easily clears initial internal expectations by Paramount Pictures — $50-60M — and thanks to the strong Sunday performance (studio estimates had projected a dip to around $18.3M), it out-performed the studio estimates released on Sunday ($76.5M). Here’s the daily breakdown with the final actual numbers (via Box Office Mojo):
- Thursday: $4.0M ($4.0M cume)
- Friday: $26.89M ($30.89M)
- Saturday: $27.25M ($58.14M)
- Sunday: $21.06M ($79.20M)
The fact that the film outperformed the tracking estimates is significant, as is the fact that it managed growth on Saturday — albeit slight — because that gives us hints that — at least for the time being — it’s playing well with more than just the hardcore fan base. The same holds true for the film’s Sunday performance. It had expected to drop in the more common 30% range, but it managed to stave off a huge decline and slid down just under 23%. One negative that should be noted is that exit data shows the audience makeup was less than desirable for a mainstream hit: 60%/40% male-female, and 65% of the audience was 25 years or older.
Moving back to the numbers, if you focus just on the opening day figure, "Star Trek" more than doubled the previous best for the franchise which was set by "Star Trek: First Contact" in 1996 ($13M. That holds even when adjusted for inflation: approximately $21.1M).
Sets IMAX Record
While none of the above numbers set any general box office records, there is one figure within the numbers that did just that: its performance in IMAX theaters. Playing in 138 of the large-screen venues, "Star Trek" set a new opening weekend record of $8.5M, with nearly 11% of its gross attributed to IMAX theaters. That beats previous record-holder "The Dark Knight" ($6.3M) by nearly a third.
Crushing Franchise Record
So how does this opening weekend relate to past "Star Trek" films? In a word: outstanding. Unadjusted for inflation, the previous best opening weekend for a "Star Trek" film belonged to 1996’s ‘First Contact’ which grossed $30.72M from 2,812 theaters.
Many will point out, and correctly, that it’s unfair to judge "Star Trek" solely against unadjusted for inflation numbers. For that reason, and for a little more perspective, I’ve also put together the following graph charting the performance of all past domestic opening weekends for the franchise adjusted for inflation:
As you can see, not only did "Star Trek" easily best "Star Trek: First Contact" unadjusted for inflation, it also did so when you adjust for inflation. In fact, the opening weekend performance of "Star Trek" is even more spectacular when you take into account the average opening weekend of all the prior films adjusted for inflation: doubly better at approximately $34.61M.
One last bit of perspective, adjusting for inflation, the last Star Trek film "Nemesis" made $53.4M after its entire domestic run in 2002. JJ Abrams new "Star Trek" has already far exceeded that, probably surpassing it sometime Saturday afternoon.
Performing better than other recent ‘franchise reboots’
Of course Paramount is looking for "Star Trek" to perform as well as other recent ‘franchise reboots’, with "Batman Begins" often cited as an example of how to do it right (with both films also have similar budgets). The good news is that the opening weekend is actually better than the other ‘reboots’ from the last four years. Here is a comparison of the domestic opening weekends for the recent ‘reboots.’
It is worth noting that those numbers are for weekends, like "Star Trek", "Superman Returns" and "Batman Begins" opened early, but both of those films opened on Wednesdays (whereas Trek had half a Thursday). When you combine the early openings, Trek (with $79.2M) comes in second behind "Superman Returns" with $84.6, but still ahead of "Batman Begins" with $72.9M. Box Office Mojo has more on "Star Trek: in their a "Franchise Reboot Battle" page.
Trek still has work to do internationally
News was less than stellar, however, in terms of foreign box office. Variety best summed it up by saying it did "a solid rather than spectacular $35.5 million" from 54, mostly Trek-friendly, markets. While it’s true that it still managed a first place finish, it barely out-performed second place finisher "X-Men Origins: Wolverine", which grossed $29.7M in its second weekend. "Star Trek" was also only first in 23 of those 54 markets it opened in. (For comparison purposes, ‘Wolverine’ was first in 22 markets worldwide and stands at $253.3M overall ($129.6M domestically). That being said, it’s important to realize that "Star Trek" is doing very well in relation to past films in the franchise, and most importantly is posting similar numbers to past ‘reboots’. In particular, 2005’s "Batman Begins" grossed $40.7M in its opening weekend overseas and that cume was only higher than "Star Trek" because it played in more markets and screens (73 and 8,000, respectively versus 54 and 5,000 respectively).
In Summary: Trek off to big start – competition on the way
So all in all, "Star Trek" had an impressive opening weekend domestically and while its worldwide performance was OK, but not spectacular. Star Trek is very much on par with comparable reboots in film history. Tallying in the preliminary foreign box office, "Star Trek" currently stands at $114.7M worldwide.
Bottom line? The short-term outlook looks great, but there are still many important indicators to keep a look at, including how it performs in its second weekend with competition coming from "Angels and Demons" and into a very competitive third weekend going up against "Terminator Salvation" and "Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian". Plus foreign box office still has a ways to go, especially in the several key territories that the film has yet to open in such as Japan.
TrekMovie will continue to monitor the performance of "Star Trek".
Charts assembled with data from Box Office Mojo