Star Trek's Big Box-Office Bang

    Star Trek, Chris Pine, John Cho Paramount Pictures

    J.J. Abrams' retooled, timeline-tweaking Star Trek scored an estimated $72.5 million Friday-Sunday opening weekend, Exhibitor Relations reported today, coming in on the high side of projections and blowing past previous franchise hits—and misses.

    Since bowing Thursday night, Star Trek has grossed $76.5 million overall.

    "An opening like this definitely indicates that moviegoers outside the core base of Trekkies showed up," Exhibitor Relations box-office analyst Jeff Bock said in an email.

    Drilling down, Romulan-style, into the numbers:

    According to Paramount's calendar, the weekend started Thursday. The studio was reporting the $76.5 million figure as Trek's opening-weekend gross. It confirmed that count included Thursday business.

    Star Trek made more on Friday ($26.8 million, per Exhibitor Relations) than nine of the 10 previous Trek movies made in their respective opening weekends. If estimates hold, it'll have made more in 72 hours than the 2002's Star Trek: Nemesis, the last pre-Abrams film, made in 91 days of release ($43.3 million).

    Paramount was reporting Star Trek made $30.8 million on Friday. That figure, too, included Thursday business. By Exhibitor Relations' count, the movie's biggest single day so far was Saturday, with $27.4 million.

    Among franchise restarts, Star Trek outdid 2005's Batman Begins ($48.7 million debut) and 2006's Superman Returns ($52.5 million). It did not, however, outgross last weekend's X-Men pivot, Wolverine ($85.1 million), which remains the year's biggest opener.

    Adjusted for inflation, the first Trek movie, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, is the highest-grossing Trek, with an $82.3 million 1979-1980 haul that would translate into $235 million today, per Box Office Mojo's Brandon Gray, who thinks Abrams' movie could unseat Robert Wise's opus as the undisputed Trek champion. "If it has longevity," Gray says, "…it has a chance."

    So will Abrams' Trek have space legs? "The sci-fi genre is notorious for its precipitous drops," Bock said, "so Paramount is no doubt hoping all the positive word of mouth spreads, and the younger demographics show up."

    Next weekend, Trek's main opponent will be Tom Hanks' Angels & Demons. Opposite that film, Kirk's crew might be able to maintain warp speed as the Hanks movie, a sequel to The Da Vinci Code, will play to a target audience that "is obviously much older," as Bock put it, than the Chris Pine Appreciation Society.

    Just so you know, by next weekend Star Trek should become the highest-grossing Tyler Perry movie of all time.

    X-Men Origins: Wolverine ($27 million) fell plunged to second, with business off 68 percent from last weekend, which itself was off $2 million from last weekend's projections. Still, the movie continued to flaunt its Tomatometer reading, bringing its overall domestic take to $129.6 million.

    After a soft debut weekend, Matthew McConaughey's Ghosts of Girlfriends Past ($10.5 million) enjoyed an impressive second weekend, with ticket sales off only 32 percent.

    • Zac Efron's 17 Again ($4.4 million) blew past the $50 million mark.

    Next Day Air, the Donald Faison-led ensemble comedy, did OK as the only new wide release to try its luck on Trek weekend: $4 million at 1,138 theaters.

    Russell Crowe's State of Play ($2 million) exited the Top 10 after three weekends and before it matched its reputed $60 million budget. The drama's domestic take stands at $34.1 million.

    Here's a complete look at the weekend's top-grossing films based on Friday-Sunday estimates as compiled by Exhibitor Relations:

    1. Star Trek, $72.5 million
    2. X-Men Origins: Wolverine, $27 million
    3. Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, $10.5 million
    4. Obsessed, $6.6 million
    5. 17 Again, $4.4 million
    6. Next Day Air, $4 million
    7. The Soloist, $3.6 million
    8. Monsters vs. Aliens, $3.4 million
    9. Earth, $2.5 million
    10. Hannah Montana: The Movie, $2.4 million

    (Originally published May 10, 2009, at 10:35 a.m. PT)