Star Trek Finishes Theatrical Run With $385M – Full Box Office Analysis

After a long life of 21 weeks in theaters, JJ Abrams new Star Trek movie has officially ended its run. The film is still in a handful of theaters (including some IMAX), but distributors will no longer be tracking performance. The final tally, as of last Thursday, brings the film a few thousand short of $385 Million world-wide, which is certainly a big success, especially for a franchise that was given up for dead by some just a few years ago. See below for more analysis


Star Trek is Back
According to Box Office Mojo, Star Trek’s domestic tally is $257.7 over the 147 day theatrical run. This includes $28.1 Million for IMAX (or around 11%). This makes it the highest grossing and highest attended film in the Trek franchise.

Star Trek’s performance makes it the 47th highest grossing film of all time (180th when adjusting for inflation). More importantly, Star Trek ended up beating expectations, by outperforming its two primary May 2009 competitors, X-Men Wolverine ($179.9M) and Terminator Salvation ($125.3). The film is currently the 5th ranked film for 2009 (Fall/Holiday releases like 2012, Sherlock Holmes, New Moon and Avatar could push it down the list). The film also met Paramount’s goals of of putting it into league with other recent tentpole films, like Iron Man, and ‘franchise reboots’ like Batman Begins and Casino Royale.

Star Trek has work to do internationally
Although Star Trek was a hit domestically (which covers US and Canada), internationally it was more of a mixed bag. According to the international distributor, Star Trek brought in $127.2M overseas. This is quite good for the franchise, and the best outing since Star Trek The Motion Picture.

(note: chart below adjusts inflation based on domestic release year, although much of international sales came later, so these are ‘best cases’)

With the strength of it’s domestic sales, Star Trek brought in around $385M total worldwide, which currently ranks it 8th for the year. But when you look just at its international sales, the film is ranked 13th. In the last two decades, Trek films have just not been a strong performer overseas. A number of films that Star Trek eclipsed at home, ended up beating it overseas.

As a percentage, Star Trek earned about 1/3 of its total money overseas, which is very low for modern big budget movies (except for comedies). Most films earn closer to 50%, with some films (like Ice Age 2, and Angels & Demons) earning up to 70%  or more overseas. When one looks closer at the numbers, you can see that Star Trek actually performed well in the English-speaking countries (UK, Ireland, Australia, & New Zealand), where its competitive position was not unlike the domestic ranking. However, everywhere else in the world, the film did not perform like a Hollywood tentpole, and more like a medium-sized Hollywood movie. For example, in the UK Star Trek is ranked 6th for the year with $35.2M, but in Korea it is ranked 27th with $5.7M, in Mexico it is ranked 30th with $3.4M, in France it ranked 42nd with $7.0M.

As for why Star Trek under-performed in the non-English speaking world, there is no obvious single answer. One factor is clearly that Star Trek has never been a strong brand outside the English speaking countries (with the exception of Germany). In the past Star Trek films have been short on action and long on dialog, which has not worked well vs. other summer tentpoles. Even though the new Star Trek tried to redress this balance, it is possible that many foreign film goers just didn’t give it a chance and didn’t get the message that this was a totally new kind of Star Trek film (hopefully those that did go can help the word of mouth for the next film). Another factor could be that the film had no big bankable stars in (like a Tom Cruise, Wil Smith, Christian Bale, Hugh Jackman, etc.). Even though studios make more money off their domestic sales (less middlemen, no currency issues, etc), international sales are no longer the ‘extra’ bit for a movie. For the Star Trek sequel to break into the $500M+ category of ‘super blockbusters’ it is going to need to find a way to increase its appeal to non-English speaking audiences.

Home Video coming November 17th
The next big milestone for the Star Trek movie is the highly anticipated release on home video. The movie is getting three core releases in North America (1 disk DVD, 2 disk DVD, 3 disk Blu-ray), plus some special gift sets. There are also special sets in the UK, Germany and Japan. Paramount executives have been talking up the sales of Star Trek home video to investors, so it seems that they expect to be a big factor in their 4th quarter returns. It is possible that the film can build some more goodwill for first time viewers who waited until he film was available to rent, especially overseas.

And you can reserve your copy now, see below for pre-orders, including the Amazon and Best-buy gift sets.

Title Blu-ray DVD
Star Trek 2009 3-disk set

3-disk set w/ replica

3-disk set w/ badges






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