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Sunday, May 10, 2009

'Star Trek' reboots franchise with dazzling $76.5m debut, May 8-10, 2009

Paramount's long-awaited reboot of their beloved but tired Star Trek franchise worked out about as perfectly as they could have hoped for, as their newest caretaker JJ Abrams dazzled both critics and audiences this weekend with his update of the sci-fi saga. Thanks to a hefty marketing push from Paramount and near universal praise from critics (a whopping 96% of critics polled by Rottentomatoes.com gave the film a recommendation rating), Star Trek cruised to an easy victory with $72.5 million over the weekend and $76.5 million including Thursday night sneak screenings.

Budgeted at $125 million, Abrams and a brand new cast of hot young trekkies managed to revive a franchise once thought all but dead. The last film in the franchise to hit theaters was 2002's Star Trek: Nemesis, which petered out with just $43.2 million, the worst performing film among ten dating back to 1979's Star Trek: The Motion Picture (Star Trek is the eleventh film in the series).

Star Trek's $72.5 million debut easily became the biggest debut ever for the franchise, surpassing the $30.7 million opening of 1996's First Contact. Its $76.5 million total already puts the film at No. 5 on the all-time Trek list. Reaching out to a much broader audience than any other Star Trek film to date, the Chris Pine-Zachary Quinto starrer managed to create tremendous buzz in a fairly crowded May, which includes last week's X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and the upcoming Angels & Demons, Terminator Salvation, Night at the Museum, and Up.

Starting with $30.8 million in ticket sales on Friday (including $4 million from Thursday screenings), the film slipped an understandable 11% to $27.4 million on Saturday, falling another 33% to $18.3 million on Sunday. If word of mouth is as strong as reviews have been, look for Star Trek to easily outpace Wolverine by the end of May, and perhaps make a run at $200 million domestic.

After posting a surprisingly strong $85.1 million bow last weekend, Fox's poorly-reviewed X-Men Origins: Wolverine played to form in its sophomore frame, falling 68% to $27 million in second. Thanks to poor word of mouth, and a huge opening from Star Trek, Wolverine's days near the top of the charts seems numbered. Next weekend brings Tom Hank's Angels and Demons, which will continue to hurt the $150 million budgeted superhero pic. Still, in ten days the film has grossed a fantastic $129.6 million, and should wind up with $165 million domestic.

Mathew McConaughey's romantic comedy Ghosts of Girlfriends Past finished in third with $10.5 million, slipping just 32% from its debut last week. In ten days, the Warner pic has collected $30.2 million.

The weekend's only other debut went quietly to Summit Entertainment's comedy Next Day Air, which opened in sixth with $4 million. The R-rated pic starring Mos Def and Donal Faison averaged just $3,515 in 1,138 theaters.

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