Tuesday, May 21, 2013

New This Week: Star Trek: Into Darkness

Much has been made of the fact that Star Trek: Into Darkness fell well short of Paramount's $100 million-plus projection for the opening weekend. It made $70 million over the Friday-to-Sunday period and $84 million in the Thursday-to-Sunday period - which, given 3-D and IMAX surcharges, higher ticket prices all around, added up to a weaker opening than the first film had - despite the tendency of audiences to come out up front for the sequel of a well-liked film also enjoying positive buzz (and a larger budget). TrekMovie.com offers a round-up of the analysis, including a number of explanations for the disappointing numbers, including the lateness of the shift of the opening to Thursday (which ended up just stretching a three-day gross over four days), the four year gap between this film and its predecessor, and the intensity of the competition in a box office which saw the release of Iron Man 3 and The Great Gatsby in the two preceding weeks.

I do think these were all factors, but that they had their effect because of a larger problem: the last film was well-liked, but simply did not win over the big base of loyal new fans that enthusiasts of the reboot expected. Certainly the demographics of the audience point to this, with, as Trekmovie.com noting,
Deadline reports exit polling shows that 64% of the audience was male and only 27% was under the age 25. For the 2009 Star Trek movie, 35% were under 25. And in comparison Iron Man 3 had 45% under 25. So with all the talk of this not being your father’s Star Trek, there may be too many fathers in the audience.
This reminds me of something many a Trek fan, myself included, said about the reboot back in 2009 - that it was a fun summer blockbuster, but not much more. Putting it bluntly, it went the same route as the Jason Bourne series, dispensing with older elements while not adding enough new ones to elevate it above the level of the generic - and that seems to me to be how the audience has taken it. That being the case, is it really any wonder that those who came out were disproportionately longtime franchise fans rather than eager new converts?

Still, many observers are seeing a silver lining in the film's overseas earnings, which seem likely not just to outdo those of the first movie, but to more than offset any shortfall in the movie's North American earnings, which are themselves far from marking it as a flop. The upshot is that a Star Trek 3 a few summers from now still seems close to a sure thing.

My Posts on Star Trek
12/16/12
Reflections on the Jason Bourne Series
10/27/11

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