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Star Trek 2-week Box Office Analysis May 22, 2009

by 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.



Great news! Love to hear that the guys are already talking about the sequel!


Oh.. Go Red Wings!!! (sorry, great game)

3. S. John Ross - May 22, 2009

It’ll be interesting to see (A) if the film has legs and (B) if the resulting trilogy of features ends up competing with other recent big-ticket genre-trilogy franchises like Pirates of the Caribbean, Lord of the Rings, or Spider-Man.

… And if it does, it’ll be interesting to see what that means to Star Trek in the long run, because once there’s financial incentive to do a thing a certain way, that can become inviolate law in Hollywood and have a hard-chill effect on the future creativity of a franchise.

But for now, it’s nice to know that folks like Simon Pegg and Zoe Saldana will be eating at their favorite restaurants :)

4. Jotin - May 22, 2009


5. MercuryEH - May 22, 2009

You mean it hasn’t proved that it has legs already?

6. Ensign Ricky - May 22, 2009

That’s very good news.

7. opcode - May 22, 2009

Correction: TMP was actually 2nd in 1979, with $82M.
And I believe Paramount is right. If you get the ticket sale percentage day by day for both Iron Man and Batman Begin and apply to ST 2009’s first weekend, you get the exact numbers ST is doing (actually ST is doing slightly better than that). So if ST keeps following the pattern it should indeed hit $250M by week 8 or so.

8. Xander - May 22, 2009

8 wooo!

9. Eli - May 22, 2009

great! now paramount took the screensaver off the official website altogether! I wanted it!

10. Wes W. - May 22, 2009

How many theaters did TMP open in compared to the other films in ’79?
And how many theaters did Trek ’09 open in compared to the other films that you are comparing it to?

11. opcode - May 22, 2009

And being even bolder, I predict that ST 2009 will end as the #1 movie of May this year, beating TS and UP. IMHO the only possible surprise would be NATM2, which is kind of a question mark till we see this weekend numbers.

12. Thomas Jensen - May 22, 2009

It’s interesting. Because at some point, a member or members of the cast probably won’t be doing another movie.

So a television series with a continuing set of characters, like the original show, probably won’t be these guys. A real trick would be keeping everyone together for a number of years. Let’s try five. Make seasons of adventures.

That would be hard, but cool.

Of course, let’s see those three movies first.

13. vva - May 22, 2009

No TV. Keep with the movies at least for a decade. Don’t oversaturate Star Trek again.

14. S. John Ross - May 22, 2009

#5: It’s only been out for a couple of weeks; there’s no way to know yet (sure, we can make optimistic predictions, but that’s a long way from anything being proven … in summertime especially, it’s not at all unusual for a film to make Fat Cash, have a blockbuster 14-day showing and still have basically no legs at all. No shame in it).

15. S. John Ross - May 22, 2009

#12: Yeah, and it’s not too unlikely to imagine a full-scale cast exodus once the trilogy is done, since that’s the way most franchise contracts are structured these days (where everything gets renegotiated after the trilogy) …

Love these Star Trek crewmembers, by all means … but don’t get attached. This is not the dawning of the Pine/Quinto/Urban era; this is (at least, this is very likely) the dawn of the New Actors/Every Third/Movie era. :)

But that could be cool.

16. Chain of Command - May 22, 2009

It’s funny how the Star Wars prequels made so much money, especially considering how awful they were.

17. S. John Ross - May 22, 2009

#16: Power of franchise. Simple as that. I swear lots of fans saw ’em 10 times each just in hopes of _convincing_ themselves they loved them. Or hoping maybe it’d click the next time …

This is not a unique phenomenon.

18. AJ - May 22, 2009

Great article, Anthony.

Do the BOM numbers include countries which are NOT mentioned on the site? Many are listed as ‘n/a. Canada is surprisingly absent. Is it lumped into ‘domestic?’

Also, what is the deal with China, India, Arabia, SE Asia and Indonesia? It’s a massive chunk of the world’s population. Do they traditionally get western films like Trek09?

Some of us here are hoping the film brings trek up a few notches to a true tentpole again. It looks like it’s happening, thank goodness.

19. JR - May 22, 2009

Request for Sequel: JJ, please return to the orginal Stardate system rather than your new way of counter stardates.

20. AJ - May 22, 2009

13: vva:

In Europe, the TNG films made up a higher percentage of overall gross sales across all films hovering between 36% and 38% of worldwide gross. STVI only mustered 22.6%, and Trek09 is over 32%.

It could be that having an active TV show in these markets acted as an ongoing ad campaign for the franchise. For sure, the gross sales numbers overseas are much higher than they were then, but it shows that Nouveau TOS needs continued investment abroad.

21. jas_montreal - May 22, 2009

@ 16. Yea, i hear you ! I guess they really marketed it well and considering the original Star Wars movies were just huge and good. I doubt the Star Wars franchise will make as much money again if they made any more movies.

22. jas_montreal - May 22, 2009

@19. I disagree. I like the new stardate system. People actually understand what year is. It gives some reality and feel to the moment. Example… Stardate 2534.54 . person: “Wow… thats wayyy into the future” …. On the otherhand… if they use the complicated system used for the past treks… it might confuse some non-trek fans. It hence forth becomes more of a gimmick rather then adding actual feel and reality to the scene.

23. S. John Ross - May 22, 2009

#19: The original stardate “system” was “type random numbers, remember to include a decimal somewhere, and call it a stardate.” The original idea seems to have been _avoiding_ pinning Star Trek down to a specific century. Later on, a stardate system was adopted (for TNG? I think? somewhere around there …) and retconned onto Trek history with a wave of the hand. I think the standard gobbledygook at the time was that stardates usually follow x format, but different points in space-time can adjust the number to the point where it reads like they’re just making it up as they go :)

So there is no original system, and this isn’t the first time stardates have been arbitrarily altered by the whim of those running the current incarnation of the show.

That said, I’m with you: I like the idea of Star Trek being set an indeterminate time in the future, without specific dates bogging down the canon.

24. Spock's Uncle - May 22, 2009

Love the new Stardate system… it IS a specific point in the future, and understanding that gives realism and meaning to what those brave souls of the future are doing… Love it. JJ has struck just the right chord, AND he has given us a path back to the Shat! No need for Kirk to die ignominiously on some small planet of some small system saving a few million people courtesy of the new timeline. If Kirk dies, it should be for BILLIONS of people… Get real folks! Bob, Alex & JJ, I can’t wait for the next movie!

25. Forrest - May 22, 2009

“Right now the top film is The Motion Picture, which has a gross of $239M in today’s dollars.”

Save that it seems they stopped reporting totals earlier in those days; a more accurate figure may be $290M or higher.

[ ]

The current one is also underperforming in foreign markets relative to the first one.

26. fred - May 22, 2009

personal i like to see three more trek movie with the same actor then start back on tv in the prime universe after for me trek is ment to be on tv the best trek story have been from tv

27. ucdom - May 22, 2009

Yeah, the new stardate system is better IMO, it got a bit ridiculous in TNG when Patrick Stewart was forced to start the show with, “Captain’s Log, stardate 4659758965765886652234.234543………aaaagghhh”

I’m very glad the new movie is doing well at the box office – although I swear it could’ve been marketed so much better here in the UK. The movie is a great fun blockbuster movie, but PLEASE can we have a more thoughtful sequel, with some good ol’fashioned exploration.
I would love a Master and Commander-esque (esp. Desolation Island) movie.

28. JohnWA - May 22, 2009


China’s censors allow roughly 20 foreign films into the country’s cinemas every year. The approved list usually includes mindless action films that’s deemed sufficiently “apolitical.”

The good news is Abrams’ Star Trek is considered harmless and lacking in any social commentary by the PRC. And thus, it has been approved for viewing by the masses. The bad news is intellectual piracy (of approved and banned films alike) is so pervasive that few Chinese bother to go to the movie theater at all. They’d just pick up a bootleg copy of it for 50 cents on the street.

When all is said and done, Star Trek will probably make only around 10-15 million in China. This is the typical haul for a Hollywood summer flick there. China also has a successful home grown film industry, as recent victories in the foreign film category at the Academy Awards can attest to. So, that’s going to drag down the numbers as well.

All the other countries on your list are not terribly profitable for some combination of the same reasons. For example, there are serious problems with censorship in much of the Muslim world. Although they’re less sensitive to political dissent, they’re pretty ruthless when it comes to banning films for “immorality.” Kirk’s flirting with Uhura and his subsequent sexual escapades at the Academy are definitely not OK in places like Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Yemen. And Star Trek has been banned in those countries. It is showing in some of the less theocratic countries (Egypt, Bahrain, Kuwait, Turkey). India has lots of bootleg DVDs and a “Bollywood” that provides most of the entertainment the country wants. So, like China, I wouldn’t expect particularly good box office results there.

29. Yiggy - May 23, 2009

I really wish that people would stop paying attention to Box Office numbers.

If the Box Office numbers are good enough, the studio will make another film -regardless of whether the original movie is any good. This is a business, pure and simple.

We need to hope that they pay more attention to the essence of Trek and stop retreading storylines from TOS or movies like WoK.

30. 4 8 15 16 23 42 - May 23, 2009

Judging from the fact that the KABLO supreme court is also behind the latest Transformers effort, I think we can surmise that Star Trek XII is going to continue avoiding numerals (Roman or Arabic) and go something like — Star Trek: The Future Continues or Star Trek: Start to Remember Some of the Things You Forgot When We Told You to Forget It All.

31. Eric Saussine - May 23, 2009

That was great reading, Anthony.

Regarding France, believe me, Star Trek 2009 looks like some kind of triumphant return.

The franchise was such a low thing here since the The Wrath Of Khan. The Voyage Home, Trek’s other great success, was seen by a mere 40,000 people and The Final Frontier was not even released. All Next Gen movies where in the 20,000 / 30,000 range. I don’t even know if that king of box office results covered the costs of distributing the films here.

In the minds of most people, Star Trek is only a geeky B-movie kind of thing. The main reason: Star Trek The Original Series started in France when T.J. Hooker started in the US… long after Star Wars was released. So you can imagine it could never seen as a precursor.

So for J.J.’s movie just to be considered potentially reaching one million admissions here is quite extraordinary. It’s really a mark of the new team’s success.

I’ll take advantage of this post to thank Mr. Abrams, Orci, Kurtzman and the cast and crew for delivering first-class entertainment.

32. ucdom - May 23, 2009


How about, “Star Trek: The Last One Was All a Dream Spock Had in the Sonic Shower” ?

33. S. John Ross - May 23, 2009

#28: “[…] Abrams’ Star Trek is considered harmless and lacking in any social commentary by the PRC.”

I only wish I could disagree.

34. Simon - May 23, 2009

Ah France…
Jean-Luc Picard would be ashamed!

35. Eric Saussine - May 23, 2009

You bet he would!

36. DanC - May 23, 2009

Many of the actors appearing in Star Trek are contracted for three films. However, this feature was never considered by any of the parties involved as the first in a trilogy. And, most often, contracts are renegotiated for each production, regardless of how many productions are included in the initial contract.

37. BLFSisko - May 23, 2009

Actually, STAR TREK (2009) is doing very bad in Germany, unfortunately. Usually, the success of a movie is measured in number of visitors for the german cinema charts. In the opening week, STAR TREK (2009) had an audience of about 420.000 people, while STAR TREK INSURRECTION had about 900.000. After the second week, it only has about 750.000 cinamagoers. It is very unlikely, that the movie will reach the performance of FIRST CONTACT or INSURRECTION (both 2.4 million people in total). Even NEMESIS will be hard to beat (1.3 million total).
One reason might be, in Germany movies generally performing bad during the summer months. And the marketing campaign was miserable. Compared to the more than 10 different TV-Spots in the United States we only had 2 or 3 Spots. And most of them had a duration of only 10 (!) seconds.

38. BLFSisko - May 23, 2009


For a better comprehansion I should add that e.g. STAR WARS Episode I had more than 8 million cinemagoers, Episode II and III both had about 5 million. Or compared to a current example: Angel & Demons had 1.1 million people, who watched it during its first week.

39. Pasty - May 23, 2009

#37 Probably the TNG-Crew was much more popular in Germany, than the TOS-Crew ever was ( I like both, not so much “Voyager” and “Enterprise”). German fandom hit it’s highest point the nineties. Star Trek as popular like never before. Unfortunately, like BLFSiski said, the marketing campaign was really very bad. There were even more poster ads for the complete rerun of the complete movie-series on a German TV-Station at the same time Star Trek openend, than for the new film itself.

40. old - May 23, 2009

I agree with BLFSisko, the marketing campaign in germany was actually not existible. I hardly saw any ST09 trailers in TV or Cinema.
A much bigger global marketing campaign would have increased the movies gross by far.

41. Paulaner - May 23, 2009

I like the new stardate system. TOS stardates were pseudo-random, while TNG ones needed to be mentally converted with an algorithm to be undestood. Why so much pain? The new system is clear and understandable.

42. James Rye - May 23, 2009

I really enjoy these articles, appeals to the stats junkie in me. Would like to thank trek Movie for being such an indispensible website. I have visited almost everyday since 06.

Amazing articles where the writers answer the fans questions…well done. What articles do I enjoy the most?

some big name reviews of the movie, mark Altmans was a highlight.
box office stats (obviously)
DVD and blu-ray reviews.

Would like some more sfx insights.

43. Unbel1ever - May 23, 2009


Why not just call it “date” then. Calling it stardate is really pointless now, because it’s based on an earth calendar.

44. Irishtrekkie - May 23, 2009

Alot of people saying the promotions in other countries where not good , but as i said before here in the Ireland it got alot of promotions, Lot of TV ads , magazine stuff, burger king star trek ads , radio competitions .

I think Star trek has done pretty well here in Ireland anyway, had a very good Weekend when it opened. Here are the some figures anyway.

45. Unbel1ever - May 23, 2009


Well, there are certain advantages. I watched it again yesterday. There were 2 people in the cinema – including myself. That was really an interesting experience.

46. Author Of The Vulcan Neck Pinch For Fathers - May 23, 2009

The numbers for ST:TMP are astounding considering the rather profound and consistent early negative critical reaction the film received, which I think dampened the enthusiasm of the fan base in general. I believe TMP opened in somewhere between 700-800 theaters, and I was there in line at a local theater in December, 1979…

Think of what ST:TMP would have been had it been more of 2009’s Trek variety, or even had ST:TWoK been the first reunion movie? Talk about altering Trek’s timeline :)

47. Trek Or Treat - May 23, 2009


I really must say job well done. What an interesting article loaded with great information. I love this sort of stuff. has been my home for Star Trek news for the past 3 years, and it’s because of excellent reporting like this.

Let’s hope the sequel blows this first one away!

48. VOODOO - May 23, 2009

The “Batman Begins” comparison is a good one.

This film has done a spectacular job of reestablishng the “Star Trek” brand name. I don’t think Paramount could have realistically asked for more out of the franchise this time out.

If the next film is as good as this one is a worldwide take of $500 million is not out of the question.

49. Trek Or Treat - May 23, 2009


Is there any data re: a “break even” point for ST 09? From what I’ve read the movie cost over $100M to make, and then there’s promotion/advertising on top of that. What Box office would it take to cover all of these costs and still regard the movie as a financial success? Are we there yet?

50. CaptainRickover - May 23, 2009

# 41
But why call it Stardate, if it’s just our earth years-date? Personally, I think the older stardates sounded really off-world and futuristic.

BTW: Does somebody know what was the greatest Trek-hit in Germany? I think it was First Contact, but I’m not certain.

51. sean - May 23, 2009

Consistency has never been a friend to stardates, so JJ using a different system really makes no difference to me.

52. Cafe 5 - May 23, 2009

I’ve seen this movie 5 times once in IMAX. I don’t mind the little stuff that is different its the big things that matter. Had JJ’s use of industrial sites for shuttle bays and engineering sections included more redress of those sites and a little more augmentation with CGI it would have been far more realistic for a 23rd century vessel. This is supposed to be a state of the art starship, not a bone yard relic dragged from a museum and put into use. This is Star Trek not “Steam Trek”. Water pipes, pressure gauges, and fermentation vats do not a starship make. Unpainted hand railings and the industrial catwalks were a little funky. With a little paint (a couple of throw pillows) and again a litle more redress these things would’t be so noticeable. Lets hope by the time the next film comes out that these areas of the ship will have a proper design befitting one of Starfleets finest ships of the line.

53. RD - May 23, 2009

#7 Opcode Wrote:

Correction: TMP was actually 2nd in 1979, with $82M.

I’m not sure a correction is in order. TMP was #2 against actual dollars earned, but when adjusted for inflation, as Anthony correctly notes is $239M and the top grossing earner of all the Trek films.

#46 Wrote:

I believe TMP opened in somewhere between 700-800 theaters

Also, don’t forget theatres were quite a bit larger in 1979. A perfect example of that is THE theatre to see big movies in Los Angeles in the late 80s was remodeled to cut the huge screening rooms down by half or split into thirds. Same number of seats, more screens, less waiting. I don’t think the negative crticism dampened any enthusiasm in the fan base. As it is, TMP has the highest ticket sales of any film in the franchise, which means that more than just the Trek base saw it. The film was in theatres for about 5 months.

In other parallels, The adjusted budget for TMP was $136M, compared to ST09’s $150M. Which means, TMP earned a whopping $103 domestically (after recouping production costs) compared to ST09 which has earned only $12M (after recouping) in 2 weeks. But ST09 has over 18 weeks to go before its true performance against other Trek films can be made. The good news is, while other films in Trek franchise can do much better against ST09 because the budgets were usually less than half TMP and ST09, the new Trek faces the same budgetary hurdles as similar films in the box office it competes with. And in gross earnings, ST09 is the 5th most popular film in the franchise after only 2 weeks at the box office! And only has $77M more to earn over 5 more months to equal TMP popularity in the same time frame.

54. AJ - May 23, 2009

Trek did just over $6m on Friday

Looks like NATM is giving TS a good run, though. And A&D did well, too.

55. Closettrekker - May 23, 2009

#53—Also, as noted in the article above, movies ran for far longer in theaters back in 1979 than they do now. Hundreds more films open in theaters every year compared to 30 years ago, and each has a much shorter run now.

Although there is no question that TMP is (when adjusted for inflation) the highest grossing ST feature in terms of box office—-comparisons to a film released in 2009 are really hampered by how differently these things operate today in relation to 30 years ago.

In addition to longer theater runs in 1979, more seating capacity in the average theater during the late 70’s (which somewhat balances out the smaller number of screens), and far fewer alternatives both in theaters and in the realm of entertainment in general at that time—-studios did not have the added benefit of a planned release to the public in such a widely accessible format as dvd (or even VHS at that time).

These comparisons make good trivia fodder, but in the end, they are rather pointless, IMO. The circumstances are far too different now to make a solid comparison on anything resembling equal ground.

56. Closettrekker - May 23, 2009

#54—I’m adding another $42 to the gross tonight at a local IMAX theater (where they are still showing ST09 at midnight through the weekend).

It will be my second IMAX viewing, and third overall.

57. Closettrekker - May 23, 2009

And I have nothing better to do on Monday but have a few beers/ribs/etc. and watch it again at the Alamo Drafthouse near my house.

I think that will about do it until the blu-ray release.

58. RD - May 23, 2009

#25. Forrest

Save that it seems they stopped reporting totals earlier in those days; a more accurate figure may be $290M or higher.
[ ]

That’s a great site! It looks at the films the way I do, except it really needs to rank them after budget recouping, which shows actual performance. However, whether TMP made $239M or $290M, it sets an incredibly high bar either, way. If ST09 comes anywhere near that close, it’ll be fine, because it means not only was it popular with the masses, but also grossed more than enough to justify many (well-performing) sequels.

As it stands the current adjusted performance ranking after recouping budgets is:

TMP $407-136=$271M 4-5 mo.

TVH $258-52=$206M 5 mo.

TWOK $214-24=$190M 4 mo.

TSFS $178-34=$144M 4 mo.

FC $198-61=$137M 7 mo.

TUC $152-27=$125M 5 mo.

GEN $172-50=$122M 14 mo.

ST09 $268-150=$118M .5 mo. (Current)

INS $155-76=$79M 8 mo.

TFF $108-46=$62M 8 mo.

NEM $80-71=$9M 8 mo.

59. RD - May 23, 2009

54. AJ, Box Office Mojo has this ranking :

NATM $15.3M
TERM $14.8M
A&D $6M
ST09 $5.7M

Either way, that’s pretty healthy earnings. Clearly A&D appeals to an adult audience that is neither interested in Sci-Fi or Kid’s films, and as I have suggested for some time, and audience that does not rush to opening weeks of a film, but sustains them over its run. With any luck Trek will achieve a similar profile thanks to its good word of mouth which will make it a good alternative to anyone looking to see a film when nothing else “jumps-out at them” when standing in front of the marquee.

60. AJ - May 23, 2009

Subtracting production budgets from gross revenue exludes the theaters themselves, who keep a certain pct. of their per-screen take.
It’s a sliding scale from what I understand, which dictates a higher pct. at open, which lessens as the weeks go by. I don’t know the details.

And I don’t know the ROI expected by Spyglass, or any distribution fees. Those could be hidden in the production budget, but most likely come out of gross profit.

61. AJ - May 23, 2009

Wow. NATM beat TS? I trust BOM over the other sites. They still have to update overseas numbers.

62. RD - May 23, 2009

#55. Closettrekker Wrote:

These comparisons make good trivia fodder, but in the end, they are rather pointless, IMO. The circumstances are far too different now to make a solid comparison on anything resembling equal ground.

While I agree with you to some extent, I don’t think the numbers are so different that a general comparison cannot be made which applies in some practical way. Nemesis still made the least money of all the films and caused Paramount to rethink the franchise and TMP was still the most popular and highest grossing of all the films in the franchise. I think Home Video and DVD sales factor in less here than you think. Yes studios factor in DVD sales which typically kick in 3-4 months after the film leaves the box-office. ST09 will most likely run into September as long as it remains a strong performer and the DVD will come out sometime in December. However, no matter how you look at TMP, TWOK, They have long since made up for the fact the there was no anticipated video market in place in those days. But from 1983 onward, the huge home video rental market was a dependable source of revenue and certainly by TVH after 1986, the home video sales market became a viable component of a film’s gross earnings.

While TMP could not count on home video as part of it’s profit and the box office was the most important part of its income, TV took the place of home video in those days and networks paid much more then than they do now, because TV is less important than DVD sales now, so that tends to offset the profit model somewhat for comparison. Nevertheless that does not discount how well it did at the box office and certainly that can be used as a respectable benchmark with which to compare the current film’s performance and popularity. As opcode pointed out to me, money is money and more money is better than less, no matter how you slice it up and compare it. As for current box office take, Trek is doing as well as, or better than its counterparts which have similar budgets and franchises, not to mention profit models. It’s hard to imagine that the studio will not make more X-Men solely because Wolverine underperformed. Likewise, Star Trek has easily earned its keep against its competition and even against its own franchise. Unless the numbers drop off by more than half over the next week, Trek looks to be a steady box office earner that will perform as well as its top grossing predecessors if not better. Since that was good enough for 10 films, it should be good enough to make more now. What may be disappointing to Trek fans is if this film does not adopt a wider appeal based on box office receipts. But if it makes as much as TMP which marks not only a solidarity among Trek fans (because that’s all there was at the time), but also a wider general audience as well who were thirsty for space movies like Star Wars, one cannot lose sight that for Trek, that is fantastic! Hopefully it will do much better. And that is where a rough comparison to the franchise comes in handy. And I will close by saying again, you are absolutely right, these old numbers could never be used for a detailed profit analysis because of all the reasons you state, but it doesn’t make them any less valid in principle.

63. Closettrekker - May 23, 2009

#61—-Not surprising to me, since TS has really limited its audience by being rated “R” and making no secret of its violent nature. And I anticipate TS taking a big drop at the BO after this weekend, partially due to that factor, along with its trouncing at the hands of critics from all directions.

NATM, on the other hand, has family-friendly written all over it—always a leg up.

64. RD - May 23, 2009

60. AJ
Subtracting production budgets from gross revenue exludes the theaters themselves, who keep a certain pct. of their per-screen take.
Exactly right, which speaks to Closettrekkers objections (I suspect). In 1979, popcorn cost less and theatres owners got more of the box office.

However, when the budgets are removed (whether they include some portion of earned costs or not, they amount to “real” costs which must be recouped), then a film’s profits can be calculated at dollar-one earned against other films, regardless of what other expenses a film must pay back out of its box office receipts. Since ST09 cost so much more than its predecessors, comparing gross numbers only offers no perspective of how much the film cost in the first place (and make no mistake ST09 was a whopper even compared to TMP which had one of the largest budgets of all time in 1979). Other expenses incurred after the “real” money outlays of the production budget can be absorbed by the studio and amortized into other films in the franchise (like marketing and advertising), since those expenses come later following completion, the payback can likewise be forestalled longer, until the DVD & TV revenue begins to materialize. Although far more elaborate, it’s no different than getting a mortgage to buy a house, then a second mortgage to add a new bathroom. Ultimately the value of the house must account for the money you actually had to pay to get into the mortgage in the first place and in the case of the production budget, that’s the salaries, sets, rentals, fuel, food, etc.

65. RD - May 23, 2009

63. Closettrekker wrote:

And I anticipate TS taking a big drop at the BO after this weekend

While I enjoyed NATM, it’s hard to imagine the sequel doing as well. I expect it to fall off quickly as well especially in the face of UP and Land of the Lost.

Aside from the so-called family films, I expect ST09 to be the dominant Sci-Fi action earner, even over Transformers in late June, through mid-July when Harry Potter hits and of course all bets are off. Even then, Wolverine is gone, Terminator is R rated as you point out and not very well reviewed, and despite Transformers, what’s out there to really compete with Trek? The fact is, every week a new film is going to come along to knock Trek from its perch, but aside from families, nothing really to offer the same entertainment value to adults and kids alike. Trek will likely earn at least 3rd or 4th place daily though mid-July against all of its competition, except on opening days.

66. Dom - May 23, 2009

Fascinating article. I’ve noticed there’s a general buzz here in London about the new film.

Years ago, I went to see Nemesis out of a misplaced sense of duty and afterwards wished I’d waited for it to be shown on TV on a day when I’d forget to record it.

When Nemesis showed up, people pretty much ignored it. Unless I mentioned it, no one ever discussed the film. People had learned to ignore Star Trek films the same way they ignore a fly buzzing on the other side of the room.

This time, I’m hearing people in the pub and in the lift at work talking about it.

67. Brian Kirsch - May 23, 2009

#54, #59

I think thats a healthy number, considering the competion of not one, but two big films opening. The consensus was that Trek would do $25-30M this 4 day weekend, so right on track. I’m actually mildly surprised by the relatively weak openings of NATM and TS. I thought at least one of them would crack $20M. But I realize the big numbers are yet to come this weekend. I expect a respectable 3rd place for Trek in the box office derby this weekend.

68. Geodesic - May 23, 2009

This the only movie that I’ve seen in a theatre and decided that I had to see it again. I saw it 3 times and am tempted to see it again with friends that have yet to see it.

Some ladies in thier 60’s were sitting behind me on the bus today — they were talking about seeing it again because they have to drag a friend out to see it.

69. Brian Kirsch - May 23, 2009


My experience has been the same, with both Nemesis and the new film. It has also helped my standing within my own family and friends. I was always the “Star Trek fan” (roll of the eyes). LOL Star Trek might actually be “cool”. Whouda thunk it? ;-)

70. opcode - May 23, 2009

With Friday numbers, ST 2009 is now the 4th highest grossing ST movie domestically (inflation adjusted, behind TMP, TVH and TWOK), the 3rd ST movie in the foreign box-office (again adjusted, behind TMP and FC), and the 3rd ST movie worldwide (adjusted, behind TMP and TVH). By the end of the Memorial weekend, ST 2009 should be 2nd worldwide and very close to 3rd domestically.

71. Geodesic - May 23, 2009

@66 In Seattle, at least, I hear someone mention it whenever I’m on the bus or at a coffeeshop.

72. ClassicTrek - May 23, 2009

i dont understand some of these figures. can someone just tell me how much globally in total, STAR TREK has made so far.


73. RD - May 23, 2009

#70, opcode, substitute the word “popular” for “gross” and I’ll be happy ;-) The adjusted numbers mean nothing more than how popular the film is, but not necessarily how profitable it is (which the word “gross” suggests). As I pointed out to be profitable, it must first pay for at least the cost of its own making. Though, popular in of itself is enough to invest more into a franchise, most of the other films actually made a higher profit to date.

The Hulk is a perfect example of a popular franchise which did poorly at the box office with Ang Lee’s 2003 film, but nevertheless resulted in another attempt in 2008 with a lower budget. Despite the fact that the films did similar business at the box office, the reboot made more money overall and led to talk of a sequel. However, despite the strong franchise, the budget (like Trek) was $150M against a worldwide $263.5M gross in less than 3 months, which put the sequel on the fence. By comparison Trek is close to Hulk’s ww gross now and may well stay in the box office longer allowing it to break more records!

74. DEMODE - May 23, 2009

I was actually in the Incredible Hulk film… lol… I was an actor in the film, and I played the pilot who flew the helicopter that crashed at the end of the film. I really hope we see a sequel to that movie! lol… I don’t think it will happen though until after the Avengers is made.

75. captain_neill - May 23, 2009

stop calling the next film Star Trek II

There already is a Star Trek II, its called The Wrath of Khan

However, guess its acurate since the new movie is new canon

76. ger - May 23, 2009

Now bring that in relation to First Contact vs. its competition in that year.
I don’t think the new movie does better. Star Trek is simply back on track, relative to the other blockbusters.

77. Mr Darcy - May 23, 2009

One must also account for the relative as opposed to merely the absolute gains. Taking this into Account Star Trek XI is huge success story in France. (Nemesis: 0.27 m // Star Trek XI: 5 m)

78. RD - May 23, 2009

#76. OK, I’ll play. First FC did not do anywhere near as well as ST I-IV, ranking 5th behind them in adjusted domestic grosses. Second, FC opened against NO competition. It opened on a Thanksgiving against the Schwarzenegger comedy Jingle All The Way. For the month before and the month after there was no serious box-office competition, at least not in the genre. At the close of 1996, FC finished 17th. Compared to the #1 grossers in the genre, it faced Independence Day $306M, Mission Impossible $181M, Twister $242M and The Rock $134M. To put it in perspective, those films all competed against each other in the Summer and all cost around $80M to produce. By comparison FC cost only $45M to produce, but only made $92M. If FC had also had an $80M budget it would have been a Domestic box office failure. Additionally, ST II-III also opened in the Summer and faced much stiffer competition, yet did better than FC with smaller budgets. To put that into perspective, TWOK went up directly against ET and still came out #6 at the box office for 1982.

So, in terms of popularity, ST09 is doing quite a bit better than FC. At $167M domestic, in only 2 weeks, Trek has proven itself more popular than FC over 3 months by $20M (adjusted). The only place FC has ST09 beat at the moment is budget. Trek must still earn $52M to be as financially successful domestically as FC. And I think it will.

Bottom Line: Which is more important? That Trek is more popular than ever? Or more profitable? Either way, Trek is on its way to outdoing both records in the franchise. So I would say, Trek is more than back on track relative to other blockbusters … it’s actually standing toe to toe with them on equal ground: season, budget, profitability and popularity.

79. fizzben - May 23, 2009

I just went to see Star Trek again tonight. It gets better every time I see it. I was surprised to see nearly as many people in the theater as opening day although it was a smaller theater, still, respectable considering its been out for 2 weeks and Terminator and Night at the Museum 2 opened this weekend.

80. tman - May 23, 2009

Very curious if there’s enough data to predict what kind of budget they will have 2nd time around.

I would be surprised if there isn’t a big computer they throw the totals into that doesn’t spit out a response, including salary guidance…

81. Kahless - May 23, 2009

All this talk of gross, net and “inflation adjusted” makes my ridges hurt. Could someone please calculate / estimate the number of seats filled? – and compare that to past performance?

Studio accountants can worry about the budget. I’m interested overall, historic popularity. Ticket prices are different than they were 30 years ago.

Its good to hear all the word of mouth acceptance too.

82. MC1701B - May 24, 2009

62. Not only was there most certainly a home video market at the time of TMP and TWOK, but in fact, TWOK was literally the first feature film priced at a “sell-through” price designed to have people own, rather than rent, the film.
That price was $29.99, in a day when most features on videocassette were between $60-100.

83. MC1701B - May 24, 2009

60. The scale can vary from contract to contract, and exhibitor to exhibitor, but the split usually looks something like this (the first number is the film rental, the second the exhibitor share):

Week 1 -2 90-10
Week 3 80-20
Week 4 70-30
Week 5 60-40
Week 6 50-50
Week 7+ 35-65

As I’ve said in previous posts, this usually ends up giving about 45% to the exhibitor at the end of the run, which is when the check is cut. I could blather for paragraphs about why, but I’ll spare you.

The main thing to gather from this is that THE MOVIE HAS NOT YET RECOUPED ITS PRODUCTION COST.

84. RD - May 24, 2009

#83 MC1701B wrote:

The main thing to gather from this is that THE MOVIE HAS NOT YET RECOUPED ITS PRODUCTION COST.

OK, let’s say that ratio is generally in the ballpark. Based on a $244.2M worldwide gross a/o 5/22, less 45% to exhibitors, Trek needs to make only $15.5M to break even. That’s the rest of this weekend @ the same rate it earned on Friday. So by Monday it should be recouped.

But wait, what about the “real” costs of distribution: Print duplication & transportation? Then there’s the cost of development and marketing and advertising. As Art Buchwald showed us, the expenses never end to get to net profits. My point was simply to strip away the expenses for which we have no official numbers in order to avoid controversy about how well Trek is doing in relation to other Trek films which also had those costs. In general, My claim was that Trek’s gross earnings had recouped it’s production budget and made $94M (which is still less than the un-official reported market budget of $160M). But you are correct and now that you have presented a reasonable number for the theatre take we can assume Trek is starting at dollar one on Monday and must make a minimum of $150M more to completely recoup its marketing and ad expenses (though they can be amortized over the next film(s). That means Trek needs to gross a minimum of $420M worldwide. That’s roughly what TMP grossed in 1979 (adjusted) and I think certainly within Trek’s grasp, considering it’s only the third weekend and should go relatively unchallenged through the month of June and into July. That’s about $2.5M/day worldwide and it hasn’t even opened in many countries.

But technically, after Monday, every dollar earned goes to profit and Paramount gets to chose how to allocate it. Even if it doesn’t earn back all of its marketing and ad outlay, that money also helps promote the DVD sales down the line and better awareness of the next movie. So for now, Trek is doing just fine and should finish as one of the most, if not the most popular films in the franchise – even if it isn’t the most profitable.

85. RD - May 24, 2009

Star Trek outperformed itself over Friday. Here are the Saturday grosses being reported at Boxofficemojo:

1. Night at the Museum II $19,950,000
2. Terminator Salvation $14,750,000
3. Star Trek $8,350,000
4. Angels & Demons $8,100,000

86. AJ - May 24, 2009


“Not only was there most certainly a home video market at the time of TMP and TWOK, but in fact, TWOK was literally the first feature film priced at a “sell-through” price designed to have people own, rather than rent, the film.
That price was $29.99, in a day when most features on videocassette were between $60-100.”

1979 was less than two years after the VHS VCR was launched in the US, and it was hardly mass-market.

When TWOK was released in 1983 at $39.95 for sale, it instigated a wave os similar sell-through releases, and the subsequent reduction in price of VCR’s which led to their eventual ubiquity. (My own memory + quick Wikipedia reference).

Before then, the giant top-loading VCR’s and were used primarily for taping and time-shifting TV programs by those who could afford them

87. SJU - May 25, 2009


88. Brian Kirsch - May 25, 2009

More good news!! Star Trek will finish 3rd for the 4-day weekend. A very respectable 3rd, considering the stiff competion of not just one, but two big films opening this weekend. It’s take was on the high-end of expectations/predictions. It also moved into within $2M of being the top movie of the year. Expect to see commercials and ads this week touting Star Trek as “The #1 movie of the year!!”. Sweet!!

Unofficial estimates from BOM for the 4-day weekend :

TS $67.2M
Trek $29.4M
A&D $27.7M is represented by Gorilla Nation. Please contact Gorilla Nation for ad rates, packages and general advertising information.