Star Trek

Rebooting Bond with Daniel Craig was Bold. Christopher Nolan’s Reinvention of Batman was genius. But some thought it was overly-ambitious, even audacious, to attempt to restart the Star Trek franchise. It has begun to pay off already for Paramount Pictures, and there will dividends for years to come.

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Several sources at competing studios have told me that J.J. Abrams’ all-new reboot of Star Trek (Paramount), which debuted last night at 7pm at many of its 3,849 locations, may have grossed as much as $6.5M-$7.5M. Studio honchos are “locked down tight” about actual numbers, but that is in the same ballpark as Transformers (Dreamworks/Paramount), which grabbed $8.8M in its previews starting at 8pm on Monday, July 2 during the summer of 2007. (What portion of ticket sales fall into Thursday and what percentage fall into Friday will likely be an open question even after final numbers are in.)
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Star Trek behind the scenes

The all-new J.J. Abrams reboot of Star Trek (Paramount) will win the second weekend of the Hollywood Summer Box Office season by at least a couple of light years over Fox’s fast-fading X-Men Origins: Wolverine, but some of the astronomical numbers I’ve seen floating around in the blogosphere are very over-heated. Make no mistake, this movie will open extraordinarily well, but it’s not going to play out as a typical front-loaded blockbuster. Moviegoers need time to shake off the disappointment of the final TV series Enterprise (starring Scott Bakula and canceled after four seasons) and the disastrous 2002 final film Star Trek: Nemesis ($43.3M domestic). It will take time for a new generation of fans to discover the magic of Gene Rodenberry’s vision of the future through Abrams’ magical lens.

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Wolverine Poster

In my Final Weekend Tracking column posted on Wednesday, I predicted that X-Men Origins: Wolverine (Fox) would reach $92M on opening weekend, despite soft reviews (now only 38% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes). My first fearless forecast of the 2009 summer blockbuster season appears to be close to dead-on (missed by only 5%).

Star-turned-producer Hugh Jackman has scored his second-biggest opening ever and, easily, his biggest as a solo star. Wolverine has mauled the competition with a massive $34.75M opening day (including $5M or so in Thursday midnight sales). That could translate to a 3-day of $86.8M, getting Hollywood’s most lucrative season off to a spectacular start.

The X-Men spin-off, which has been made for substantially less than the $210M budget ponied up for to produce 2006’s X-Men: The Last Stand, becomes the all-time fourth-best first-weekend-of-May opening, trailing only Spider-Man 3 ($151.1M), the original 2002 Spider-Man ($114.8M) and last May’s Iron Man ($98.6M). Wolverine has also posted one of the top seven opening days ever for a comic book adaptation.
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Wolverine

The great thing about a sequel is that it has a built-in audience. The problem with sequels is that, as the numbers after the title go up, so does the production budget. Very hard to know for sure, but sources have told me that the production budget for X-Men was in the $75M range. X-2: X-Men United may have had a budget of about $110M, while the cost of X-Men: The Last Stand was, in all likelihood, as much as $210M. Why doesn’t it make sense to just churn out X-Men 4?
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Recording superstar Beyonce Knowles is building a bankable resume for herself as an actress with Sony Screen Gems’ Obsessed as the latest title burnishing her resume. Co-starring the excellent Idris Elba (The Wire), this low budget, PG-13 genre pic has scored a far-above-expectations $11M on Friday, and it will likely reach $27.5M for the weekend. That is the best opening yet for the former Destiny’s Child lead vocalist as an above-the-title star, topping 2003’s The Fighting Temptations and Cadillac Records from late 2008.
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Box Office Tracking: Hollywood’s Worst Release Date

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The final weekend of April has never been Hollywood’s favorite release date. In fact, it is generally considered to be among the worst release dates on the calendar. Whatever opens on the final weekend of April gets absolutely crushed by the official start of the summer blockbuster season on the first weekend of May.

The 3 new wide releases and 1 major specialty release set to debut this weekend will face an onslaught of mega-hits over the next month. How can Obsessed (Sony), The Soloist (Dreamworks/Paramount), Earth (Disney) and The Informers (Senator) possibly find an audience with X-Men Origins: Wolverine (Fox) and Ghosts of Girlfriends Past (Warner Bros) arriving next weekend followed by, in successive weeks, Star Trek (Paramount), Angels & Demons (Sony), the combo of Night at the Museum 2 (Fox) and Terminator: Salvation (WB) and Disney/Pixar’s Up?

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hannah montana

She has a hit TV show on the Disney Channel, a pair of albums that have debuted at #1 on the Billboard charts, a concert tour with 69 sold-out arenas in North America, and now a second #1 movie in as many years. Miley Cyrus is the biggest teen star in the world.

With most of Hollywood (including myself) expecting an opening in the mid-$20M’s for Hannah Montana The Movie (Disney), Miley has surprised “grown-ups” with her box office clout once again. The picture opened with $15M on Good Friday, and it could reach an estimated $33.6M by the end of Easter weekend, making it the all-time #2 opening for the bunny holiday weekend.

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