Star Trek Into Darkness easily opened on top this weekend, though it wasn't the kind of box office sensation that many—including distributor Paramount—were expecting it to be.
The J.J. Abrams-directed sequel took in $70.2 million for the three-day frame; add in its grosses from Wednesday night and all-day Thursday, and the movie has to-date earned $83.7 million. In comparison, 2009's Star Trek grossed $75.2 million for the weekend, and $86.7 million through its first four-and-a-half days.
While it's usually unfair to knock a movie for opening in line with its predecessor, it certainly feels like the "disappointment" label is applicable in this case. All signs suggest the 2009 Trek is very well-liked (it has a strong 8.0 rating on IMDb) and Paramount's marketing did a decent job walking the sequel tightrope (a balanced approach of promising more-of-the-same and offering something new). Additionally, there was four years of ticket price inflation and the addition of 3D and IMAX premiums. Based on historical comparisons, this should have added up to around $100 million for the four-day weekend, which was what Paramount was publicly forecasting going in to the weekend.
A few theories have been thrown out regarding the underwhelming opening, including the lack of definition surrounding the villain and the lengthy time between sequels (four years is generally too long). It seems more likely, though, that it fell victim to the incredibly competitive May schedule. There's only so much money to go around, and following the strong performances of Iron Man 3 and The Great Gatsby—and a week ahead of a jam-packed Memorial Day—Star Trek Into Darkness just wasn't a compelling enough proposition for casual moviegoers.
Trek's demographics tell an interesting story that contributes to that theory: the audience skewed heavily male (64 percent) and older (73 percent over the age of 25). In comparison, the first movie did a better job reaching women (only 60 percent male) and younger audiences (only 65 percent over 25).
This was also the latest weekend in which 3D took a hit—while IMAX 3D accounted for an impressive 16 percent of the weekend gross, non-IMAX 3D only made up 29 percent (for a 45 percent total). Last weekend, The Great Gatsby only had a 33 percent share, and one would have to go back to March's Oz The Great and Powerful to find a movie that had an opening weekend 3D share over 50 percent.
Even with good word-of-mouth—definitely possible, given the strong "A" CinemaScore—Trek is facing insanely tough competition from Fast & Furious 6 (and, to a lesser extent, The Hangover Part III) over Memorial Day weekend. As a result, there's no way that it ultimately matches its predecessor's $257.7 million total, though a final tally north of $200 million should still be achievable.
In second place, Iron Man 3 fell 51 percent to $35.8 million. Through 17 days the three-quel has earned $337.7 million, which exceeds the final gross of the previous two Iron Man movies. Even with the very competitive marketplace, it should still have enough juice to get past $400 million by the end of its run.
On lukewarm word-of-mouth, The Great Gatsby plummeted 52 percent to $23.9 million. Still, it's already banked $90.7 million, and remains on pace to match or exceed past Leonardo DiCaprio hits The Departed ($132.4 million) and Shutter Island ($128 million).
Pain and Gain dipped 35 percent to $3.2 million for a total of $46.7 million. In its ninth weekend, DreamWorks Animation's The Croods was back in the Top Five with $3.02 million for a total of $177 million. While it will disappear quickly from theaters following the opening of Epic next weekend, The Croods is undoubtedly a major early year success at the domestic box office.
On another light expansion, indie hit Mud added $2.23 million from 960 locations. Its $11.7 million total makes it the highest-grossing movie ever from the Roadside Attractions label, and if it continues to hold well it could eventually get close to $20 million.
In its second outing, Tyler Perry Presents Peeples was off 53 percent to $2.16 million. While that's a solid hold for a Perry movie, it doesn't do much to make up for the fact that the movie's 10-day gross ($7.9 million) is lower than Perry's average opening day.
Following its debut at the Cannes Film Festival this week, The Great Gatsby opened in 49 international markets and earned a very strong $42.1 million.
Its top market was Russia with $6.2 million, though a close second was the U.K. ($6.1 million despite opening in the shadow of Fast & Furious 6). It also performed well in South Korea ($4.3 million), Germany ($3.7 million) and Spain ($2.2 million). Gatsby expands in to Australia and Mexico at the end of the month and in to Brazil and Japan in June.
According to Warner Bros., the movie was up 38 percent over director Baz Luhrman's Australia across the same territories; if that holds up for the remainder of its run, Gatsby would ultimately wind up with well over $200 million.
Worldwide sensation Iron Man 3 extended its phenomenal run with $40.2 million this weekend. To date, its earned $736.2 million overseas, which ranks ninth all-time. It also ranks ninth on the worldwide chart with $1.07 billion, and by the end of next weekend it should pass Transformers: Dark of the Moon ($1.12 billion) to claim fifth all-time. Its biggest market by-far is China with $109.5 million, though South Korea has also been particularly impressive ($61.1 million).
Coinciding with its domestic debut, Star Trek Into Darkness expanded to around half of its foreign potential and added $40 million. It's only major new market was Russia, where its $8 million opening was double the total gross of the first movie. On average, Into Darkness tripled the last movie's debut across its 34 new markets. Still, including last weekend's territories its only trending up 80 percent over its predecessor, which earned a terrible $128 million in 2009. To date, Into Darkness has grossed $80.5 million overseas.
As usual, two of next weekend's U.S. releases opened early overseas. Blue Sky Animation's Epic earned $14.1 million from 15 markets including Mexico ($3.5 million), Brazil ($2.5 million) and Germany ($2.3 million). These are fine figures, but still suggest that the movie will wind up being an average animated effort ($200-$250 million overseas).
Meanwhile, Fast & Furious 6 opened to an excellent $13.8 million in the U.K.—that's the highest debut ever there for Universal Pictures. Fast 6 adds most of its other markets (including, of course, the U.S.) next weekend, and seems well positioned to ultimately earn at least as much as its predecessor ($626 million worldwide).
Finally, The Croods continued its outstanding foreign run with an estimated $10.6 million haul this weekend. To date, its earned $373.3 million overseas for a worldwide total of $550 million, which is a very high figure for an original animated effort.
Editor's Note: Due to travel schedules, editorial coverage will be suspended for the remainder of the month. Coverage will resume with the "Weekend Report" on Sunday, June 2. Discuss this story with fellow Box Office Mojo fans on Facebook. On Twitter, follow us at @boxofficemojo, and follow author Ray Subers at @raysubers.