"Star Trek", "Wolverine" face off at box office

Wed May 6, 2009 11:39pm EDT
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By Carl DiOrio

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Like colliding asteroids, a major sci-fi release and a megahit action fantasy will clash at the box office this weekend.

Among the imponderables that the matchup poses for industry forecasters:

* Can a late surge in must-see interest lift Paramount's sci-fi prequel "Star Trek" to an opening on the order of last weekend's $85.1 million debut for Fox's "X-Men Origins: Wolverine?"

* How badly will the "Trek" bow hurt "Wolverine" in its sophomore session?

Many industryites suggest that "Trek" will fall at least a bit short of matching the domestic debut of "Wolverine" because it has a more narrowly drawn fan base. Yet they note that "Trek" seems to be gaining market momentum, with a definite uptick in awareness and interest among prospective patrons amid positive early reviews.

Most of the more than 3,800 theaters playing "Trek" this weekend have scheduled "previews" for as early as 7 p.m. Thursday, which should pad the opening gross substantially. Pacific Theatres' ArcLight Hollywood programed a "members only" performance for 5 p.m. Thursday, with that coin and other early grosses to be recorded as Friday box office.

"Trek" playdates include 138 giant-screen venues sure to generate outsize grosses in one of Imax's biggest releases of a commercial film. The Imax playdates are scheduled for two weeks only.

"This is right in our wheelhouse," Imax Filmed Entertainment chief Greg Foster said. "It's a demographic that loves Imax -- the crowd -- and there's also a cool factor to it. Of course, the fans will want to dress up for it, and we can help event-ize all of that."   Continued...

<p>(L to R) Actors John Cho, Eric Bana, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, director J.J. Abrams, Zachary Quinto, Simon Pegg, and Chris Pine pose on the red carpet during the German premiere of the movie "Star Trek" in Berlin, April 16, 2009. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch</p>