Star Trek Into Darkness should take No. 1 at the weekend box office with an unbeatable three-day take in the universe of $90 million, projections say.
With no other new releases in theaters, Iron Man 3 and The Great Gatsby are expected to move into second and third, respectively. The Robert Downey Jr. sequel could be at about $335 million domestically by the end of Sunday. The Leonardo DiCaprio drama, meanwhile, could close in on $100 million with a second-weekend take of about $30 million.
For the new Star Trek movie, opening in some theaters tonight in advance of its formal midnight Thursday debut, the weekend should be the start of a Federation record-setting run.
To date, the top Star Trek movie is director J.J. Abrams' 2009 reboot of the same name. That film got off to a $75 million Friday-Sunday start and ended its run with a franchise-best $258 million domestic haul.
BoxOffice.com was calling for Into Darkness to hit an overall domestic gross of $300 million, a number that the film could be one-third of the way to by the end of the weekend thanks to its early Wednesday-Thursday launch.
Hollywood.com box-office analyst Paul Dergarabedian said the new movie will benefit from goodwill, good reviews (a stellar 89 percent score at last look at Rotten Tomatoes), and "a perfect release date," nestled between Iron Man 3 and the Memorial Day weekend crowd of The Hangover Part III and Fast & Furious 6.
"Abrams has done for Star Trek what Christopher Nolan did for Batman and in the process has reinvented and rebooted one of the most important and influential movie brands on the planet," Dergarabedian said.
The planet, indeed.
Traditionally not an international superstar—even 2009's Star Trek only made one-third of its worldwide gross from overseas—the franchise is already showing more muscle with Into Darkness.
In its international debut last weekend, the film grossed nearly $32 million from seven markets compared to $36 million from 54 countries for the first Chris Pine-Zachary Quinto film.
In the United Kingdom, the BBC said Kirk and Spock "stun[ned]." Just like a good phaser, presumably.