Box Office: 'Star Trek Beyond' racks up solid $59.6 million, 'Lights Out' scores

Sun Jul 24, 2016 2:43pm EDT
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By Brent Lang

LOS ANGELES ( - "Star Trek Beyond" debuted to a solid $59.6 million this weekend, signaling that after six television series, 13 movies and 50 years in the pop culture conversation, there's still life left in one of Hollywood's most durable franchises.

And there are more intergalactic missions to come. As boon to Trekkies, Paramount took the unusual step of announcing yet another sequel was in the works even before this latest USS Enterprise adventure sailed into theaters. The studio has lined up Chris Hemsworth to reprise his role as Capt. Kirk's father despite the fact that he was incinerated in a spaceship disaster in a previous film. In science-fiction, it seems, death is merely a temporary predicament.

"You can count on one hand the brands that have this kind of longevity and viability over time," said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at comScore. "These characters are so clearly defined and people just respond to their sense of camaraderie."

The latest chapter in the "Star Trek" saga performed respectably, but its opening is down from the two previous films in the series. "Star Trek Beyond" couldn't match the $70.2 million launch of 2013's "Star Trek Into Darkness" nor could it top the $75.2 million bow of 2009's "Star Trek." Moreover, with a price tag of $185 million, plus tens of millions in promotional spending, the film needs to perform well overseas if it's going to make a profit.

That's not a problem for one of the weekend's other new releases, Fox's "Ice Age: Collision Course." Its issues are coming closer to home. The fifth film in the animated series brings back a band of Paleolithic creatures. It racked up $21 million from 3,992 locations. That would be a worrisome, even disastrous result for a film that carries a $105 million budget. However, the "Ice Age" films have always been received more warmly overseas than they are stateside.

"The movie is going to make money," said Chris Aronson, Fox's domestic distribution chief. "If you go back and look at past 'Ice Ages,' the share of international has always been weighted very heavily."

The most recent installment, 2012's "Continental Drift," did 81.6% of its $877.2 million global total overseas, while its predecessor, 2009's "Dawn of the Dinosaur," picked up 77.8% of its $886.7 million worldwide haul in foreign markets. "Collision Course" has already grossed over $140 million internationally in 60 markets, so even though its domestic results are disappointing, there might be more "Ice Age" films to come.

In a triumph of profit margins, New Line Cinema's "Lights Out" racked up $21.6 million in its debut. That's a healthy return on its $5 million budget. Though its parent studio, Warner Bros., has struggled of late, fielding duds such as "The Legend of Tarzan" and "The Nice Guys," New Line is enjoying a hot hand at the multiplexes. Earlier this summer, the label scored with the action comedy "Central Intelligence," the romantic drama "Me Before You," and the horror sequel "The Conjuring 2." "Lights Out" centers on a family that is haunted by an evil spirit and was developed by director David F. Sandberg from a 2013 short film.   Continued...

Actors Chris Pine (L), Karl Urban and John Cho arrive for the world premiere of "Star Trek Beyond" at Comic Con in San Diego, California U.S., July 20, 2016.  REUTERS/Mike Blake