J J Abrams’ Latest Star Trek Topping Original in Foreign Theatres

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J J Abrams’ lastest entry in the franchise; Star Trek Into Darkness opened this weekend with a strong start pulling in a respectable $31.7 million according to an estimate from distributor Paramount Pictures. The distributor has also said that it looks like the sequel is topping the original film by as much as 70%.

It is definitely doing better than the original in the same countries that it opened in four years ago. The movie did well in Germany and Australia, but it got the best reception in the United Kingdom where it cleared $13.3 million.

In an effort to generate a better reception for this second in the series, Abrams sent actors Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto on a “whistle stop” promotion tour to Australia, Germany, Mexico and England to promote the movie in the run up last month to the opening of the film this weekend. The studio is also emphasizing that the second film features bigger special effects and was converted into 3-D — unlike the original.

Rob Moore, Paramount’s Vice Chairman said on Sunday, “Traditionally, the ‘Star Trek’ TV show was known for its lower-budget visual effects, and the international audience in the past didn’t connect to it. Now the movie has a great combination of humanity and action that foreign markets can embrace.”

Moore also pointed out that in Mexico — where “Star Trek” has “traditionally not been good at all” — weekend business nearly tripled from 2009, indicating not just that the local marketplace has grown in recent years but that “the franchise is finding a new audience.”

Of course, it is to be expected that the film would do well in the United Kingdom with “local lad” Simon Pegg playing the recurring role of Engineer Scott in the film. Pegg, who had a very small part to play in the first film, has been very quiet about how much he would be doing this time around in the Star Trek verse.

It appears to almost be a trend for films to open outside US borders before they open in America. Disney/Marvel’s “Iron Man 3” opened in 11 countries before hitting theatres in the states, with a reported $13.2 million gross. It certainly seemed to pay off as that was more than the previous series entries and more than the first day for last year’s Disney/Marvel smash “The Avengers” in France.

It begs the question of why the “superhero” films are all opting to open in the foreign markets first. It may have something to do with last minute tweaking of the film based on audience reaction. It remains to be seen if this was a good thing for the newest Star Trek.

While Star Trek has long been a property that resonates most strongly with American audiences. Abrams’ first entry in the franchise made only about 33% of its overall $385.7 worldwide gross internationally — not the pattern most big-budget tent poles typically like to follow.

Considering that the film has opened so strongly in the foreign market, Abrams must be holding out hope that the box office from the film’s debut in the U.S. and Canada’s IMAX theaters on May 16th and it’s expanded opening to theaters nationwide on Thursday will match the 70% increase realised at the foreign market.

By Michael Smith

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