May 19, 2013 at 12:50 PM ET
Paramount and Skydance Productions' "Star Trek Into Darkness" topped the box office chart with a solid four-day opening of $84.1 million -- even if it didn't engage warp speed and hit $100 million.
Overseas, the J.J. Abrams-directed tentpole took in another $40 million over the weekend for an early global total of $164.6 million, including $80.5 million internationally. The 3-D pic, playing in 40 markets, tied with "Iron Man 3," which took in $40.2 million in its fourth weekend.
But it was Baz Luhrmann's "The Great Gatsby" -- benefiting from being the only female-skewing event pic -- that topped the foreign chart, grossing a solid $42.1 million as it opened in 49 markets following its international premiere at the Cannes Film Festival May 15.
There was plenty of action overseas all the way around. Universal's "Fast & Furious 6" tore out of the gate as it debuted in the U.K. and Ireland, grossing $13.8 million to score the biggest opening ever for a Universal title in those countries and boding well for the film's domestic bow over Memorial Day weekend and its continued expansion offshore.
Heading into the weekend, many box office observers believed "Into Darkness" had a shot at hitting $100 million in North America, easily outpacing the $79.2 million opening of Abrams' 2009 "Star Trek," which reinvigorated the sci-fi film franchise. Paramount had hoped for $100 million, but hedged its bets by estimating an $80 million to $100 million debut.
Paramount vice chairman Rob Moore said he was "extremely pleased" with the sequel's performance, both domestically and internationally, where the studio waged a massive marketing campaign to improve the franchise's standing ("Star Trek" has never been as popular overseas).
"'Into Darkness' did 6 percent better than the 2009 'Star Trek' and received an 'A' CinemaScore, so we know people love the movie," Moore said. "And overseas, it is pacing 82 percent ahead of Abrams' first film."
In Russia -- where sci-fi often suffers, but 3-D is enormously popular -- "Into Darkness" debuted to $8 million, four times the opening of the 2009 reboot, which topped out at only $4 million.
Moore says "Into Darkness" could ultimately double the $127 million earned by "Star Trek" in its entire run internationally.
"Into Darkness" returns Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto in the roles of Captain James T. Kirk and Spock. Other returning castmembers include Zoe Saldana, Anton Yelchin, Simon Pegg, John Cho and Karl Urban. This time out, a scheming villain played by Benedict Cumberbatch resorts to terrorism to threaten Earth.
Paramount and Skydance co-financed the $190 million tentpole, and produced alongside Abrams' Bad Robot. The script was written by Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman and Damon Lindelof.
In the U.S., "Into Darkness" skewed male (64 percent) while 73 percent of the audience was over the age of 25.
IMAX theaters turned in big numbers thanks to Trekkies who wanted to see the film in a large-format, with 336 theaters taking in $13.5 million.
There is no doubt but that "Into Darkness" faced tough competition from "The Great Gatsby" and "Iron Man 3." In its third weekend, Disney and Marvel Studios' "Iron Man 3" came in No. 2 domestically with $35.2 million. The billion-dollar baby has now taken in $337.1 million in North America and $736.2 million internationally for a total $1.07 billion, the No. 9 film of all time.
"The Great Gatsby," from Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow Pictures, placed No. 3 domestically, falling 53 percent in its second weekend for a handy cume of $90.2 million.
Warners' belief that "Gatsby" would serve as counterprogramming to action fare is paying off and already marks Luhrmann's biggest success to date in North America, not accounting for inflation (his previous best was the $57.4 million grossed by "Moulin Rouge!")
"Gatsby" also marks Luhrmann's best opening overseas, coming in 38 percent ahead of Australia ($30.4 million) and "Moulin Rouge!" ($13.8 million). The 3-D film did nice business in numerous markets, including earning $6.2 million in Russia and $6.1 million in the U.K., despite "Fast and Furious." It placed No. 1 in France with $4.7 million, buoyed by its premiere in Cannes.
At the U.S. specialty box office, Noah Baumbach scored with the debut of his black-and-white independent film "Frances Ha,"which grossed $134,000 from four theaters in New York and Los Angeles for a location average of $33,500.