Star Trek 2-week Box Office Analysis May 22, 2009by Anthony Pascale , Filed under: CBS/Paramount,Editorial,Star Trek (2009 film) , trackback
Yesterday Star Trek finished its first two weeks at the box office. Although films can stay in theaters for months, in general they tend to make over half of their money in those first two weeks, so today we take an in depth look at how the new Star Trek movie is performing relative to other recent films, both domestically and internationally
Star Trek is playing with the big boys domestically
On Thursday, Star Trek came in second place in the domestic box office with with $3.0M (again beating Angels & Demons). Terminator Salvation won its opening day with $13.4M. This brings Star Trek’s domestic take up to $161.6M in its first two weeks. This is of course the best performance of any film in Trek franchise history. Even adjusting for inflation, the closest 2-week performance would be Star Trek First Contact at $104.8M.
The new Star Trek has moved up to a new level, now ranking amongst some of the top tier films (although still not in the same league as mega blockbusters like Star Wars). Here is a chart showing how Star Trek’s first two weeks compares to other recent big genre/action movies (with the last Trek movie thrown in for comparison). It also notes the eventual total gross of the other films.
Star Trek still has life in it and prediction sites are guessing it could pull in around $30M+ over the 3-day weekend, which would bring its 3-week total up to around $200M. After that it is anyone’s guess but Paramount has predicted it will end up around $250 (according to Deadline Hollywood). The film is already falling somewhere between Iron Man and Batman Begins which ended up with $318M and $205M respectively, so Paramount’s estimate sounds about right (maybe a little optimistic).
A question has come up regarding if the new Star Trek will be the highest grossing Star Trek film of all time, after adjusting for inflation. Right now the top film is The Motion Picture, which has a gross of $239M in today’s dollars. It is possible for Star Trek to top that, however comparing today’s movies to those from the pre home video era is a bit of apples and oranges as films opened in fewer theaters, but but stayed in theaters much longer. Domestic box office gross was a much bigger part of films total income back in those days. But even then Star Trek was swamped by Star Wars. TMP took in $82M in 1979 and a year later The Empire Strikes Back brought in $209M.
Star Trek overseas – mixed
So far we only have the first two weekends for Star Trek in most of its markets, but it has earned $76.8M overseas. It still has to open in some markets, including Japan so we don’t have the full story yet, but there are some things that can be gleaned from the first couple of weekends. Basically the film has done well in markets where Trek has done well in the past, but not as well in markets that are new or where Trek is less known.
As a point of illustration, here are charts from four markets, each telling a different story.
UK: The pattern is most similar to the US, with Star Trek performing in the same league as Batman Begins and even Iron Man. Casino Royale is the kind of film that plays better overseas than it does domestically (and especially in the UK). The pattern in Australia and New Zealand is also similar as Star Trek is well known in the English speaking world.
Germany: This has traditionally been Star Trek’s best non-English speaking market. The Star Trek film opened strongly in Germany and it is actually the only country in the world (including the US) where Star Trek opened with a bigger weekend than Wolverine. Trek is actually doing better than other recent films like Batman Begins and Iron Man, but is still dwarfed by global brands like Star Wars and James Bond. It is interesting that Star Trek is actually only outpeforming Nemesis by around 25%, but it is worth noting that these numbers are after currency conversion and the Euro was about 20% weaker back in 2003 when Nemesis opened in Germany.
France: And here is where Star Trek is struggling. Star Trek in France is underperforming all recent Hollywood action blockbusters, and the same pattern can be seen in other countries in Europe and around the world (including Brazil). The one ray of hope is that this new movie is doing a lot better than the last Trek film. In France Nemesis opened and closed in the same weekend making only $270k (hardly worth the effort).
Korea: South Korea is another weak territory for Trek in the past. Paramount didn’t even bother opening Nemesis there. So the new Star Trek is actually doing pretty well considering. Compared to other films like Batman Begins and even the last Star Wars film. Of course if they put some giant robots in the movie, it might be able to compete like Transformers. Star Trek opens in Japan next weekend, which will be the next big test in Asia.
Bottom Line: Star Trek is bigger than ever – can be even bigger
There can be no doubt that this Star Trek movie is a hit and the sequel seems all but certain at this point, with probably the only question being the scale of the film. Batman Begins was always the model for Star Trek. Both films had similiar budgets and similar objectives (of reinvigorating franchises), and the films seem to be following a similar performance pattern pattern as well. Batman Begins topped out at $373M globally with $205M coming from domestic sales. Star Trek will likely end up with a similar total, but with more coming from domestic and less from overseas. Both films lay a new foundation for their respective franchises And last year Warner Bros. showed how far they could go with their follow-up film The Dark Knight which brought in over $1B worldwide. Of course that may be too high a hurdle for Star Trek 2 (aka unnamed ‘Star Trek’ sequel), but with some foreign sales building on the first one, maybe Trek could break into the $1/2 billion club next time.