By Tom Brueggemann | Thompson on Hollywood May 18, 2013 at 4:19PM
J.J. Abrams' "Star Trek Into Darkness" (Paramount) grossed $22 million yesterday, for a total of $35.5 million since its IMAX-only debut on Wednesday (other theaters were added Thursday). This fell short of the almost $27 million that Abrams' 2009 reboot took in its initial Friday (after $4 million on its first day), so overall it is still ahead. But it looks less likely to equal the earlier film's total of $79 million through its first weekend.
"Into Darkness" had the benefit of 3-D presentation in many theaters, with higher ticket prices, so the dropoff is even more significant. What is better for the film is its international performance so far, where Paramount made a push to boost the series' profile; "Star Trek" has traditionally fared better in the U.S. than overseas. In initial territories (most of the world opened this weekend or has yet to show the film) it took in $47 million, all were ahead of past performance. With a $190 million production cost, the domestic take likely needs to get close to $100 million through Sunday to get the film to its needed ultimate take.
After "Iron Man 3" and "The Great Gatsby" equaled or surpassed their predicted openings, the initial under-performance of "Trek" is a disappointment for the industry, which harbors high hopes for a strong summer line-up to make up for the weak first quarter. The top 10 total, with three films stronger than last year's, came to about $44 million for the day, up about $3 million a year ago. It will take multiple weeks exceeding 2012's weekend figures to start catching up. That this weekend with all its box office promise is at best just a little ahead is a concern.
Last week's top two took big falls - "Iron Man 3" fell about 50% ($9.5 million, $311 million total in only its third weekend) and "The Great Gatsby" closer to 60% ($7.7 million, $74 million - though this is a bit exaggerated since last Friday's number included Thursday night shows). These drops show the normal impact of a new major film opening and competing for ticket buyers -- a situation that will only intensify when three new major films open next week for the holiday weekend.
Nothing else in the day's top 10 grossed more than $1 million, with "42" seem to holding best, now just short of $87 million, still with an outside chance to hit $100 million before it is through.