Saturday, May 9, 2009

A franchise opening weekend record, in just over a day! Star Trek banks $31 million in 1.5 days.

Well, I guess Sylar is staying 'dead' for the near future. Yay for Adrian Pasdar's continued employment.

So it's $24 million for Friday and $7 million for Thursday (starting at 7pm), which puts the first 'day' of Star Trek just over the record $30.7 million that Star Trek: First Contact scored on its opening three days in November, 1996. Sounds like a 'second film of summer' curse has just been rendered null and void. Remember all that stuff I wrote last year about how Paramount was crazy to spend $150 million, and it was crazy to move it out of Christmas, and it was crazy to open on the second weekend of summer? You don't? Good, because I never, ever said such things.

Regardless of my feelings for the picture, this is a terrific performance for a franchise reboot that was a huge question mark going into the weekend. Sure the buzz was there and the reviews were super positive, but would casual movie goers dare enter into this most tight-knit of cult communities? Um... yes. Kirk, Spock, and the gang... welcome to the grown ups table. Harry Potter and Bruce Wayne want to say hi. While the opening day and opening weekend won't shatter any non Star Trek-related records (the Friday number is fourth for 2009 behind Watchmen, Fast & Furious, and X-Men Origins: Wolverine), it is still a home run performance on a weekend that has often brought death to dreams of blockbuster-dom. This is no Poseidon, no Speed Racer, nor even a Troy.

As for records, I'm guessing if Paramount wanted an opening day record, they wouldn't have opened it on Thursday at 7pm. But Paramount is playing long-ball with this film and this franchise (to which I say good for them). With word of mouth running quite high (I'm so lonely...), there could be a higher than normal weekend multiplier, maybe something approaching 2.8x. Yes, Star Trek is a genre franchise, so front loaded demand is expected, but the film is gaining fans from all forms of movie goers, so it could very well see only a small drop on Saturday. Worst case scenario gives it $67 million for the weekend, best case gives it about $75 million. Paramount will be delighted with either/or. But that's all speculation until tomorrow. Congratulations to Paramount for running a flawless ad campaign and congratulations to J.J. Abrams for... um... well, hopefully I'll like the sequel more.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine dropped an expectedly large 76% from its opening $35 million Friday. Negating the midnight screenings, the drop is a 'more reasonable' 72%. Either way, this is the complete collapse that everyone and their brother expected. The picture crossed the $100 million mark on Thursday so now the goal is making it to $160 million before Memorial Day weekend. So long, good riddance. I may not have thought that Star Trek was a Ruth Chris fillet mignon, but I know the difference between a Sizzler sirloin and a McDonald's Steak and Egg McMuffin. Better luck next time with X-Men Origins: Deadpool, X-Men Origins: Magneto, and/or X-Men Origins: Wolverine 2: This Time It's the Japanese Storyline That Fans Actually Wanted to See!

Oh, and alas Battle For Terra vanished off the face of the Earth. That's a shame. I saw it yesterday and it's a pretty compelling, artfully poetic little 3D science fiction film. It's no masterpiece, but it goes to some dark places, the vocal cast is excellently low-key, and there is true visual beauty throughout. That's about all the news fit to print for the moment. More can be discussed when the weekend numbers are released.

Scott Mendelson

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