Elsewhere, ‘Lights Out’ scares up strong business for New Line, while conservative filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza’s Hillary Clinton doc cracks the top 10 in its nationwide expansion and ‘Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie’ wins over older women in its limited debut.
It was a topsy-turvy weekend at the box office.
Justin Lin’s Star Trek Beyond beamed up a strong $59.6 million from 3,928 theaters in North America, more than enough to win the weekend and marking one of the best openings of summer to date. However, the third chapter in Paramount and Skydance Productions’ rebooted franchise came in 14 percent behind the opening of 2013’s Star Trek Into Darkness ($70.2 million) as Hollywood battles a bad case of sequelitis. (The 2009 film Star Trek blasted off with an even better $75.2 million.)
Still, 14 percent is a relatively modest drop. And it’s nothing compared to Ice Age: Collision Course, which fell off a cliff in its domestic debut with $21 million from 3,392 theaters — 55 percent behind the 2012 launch of Ice Age: Continental Drift ($46.6 million) and the worst showing for an animated studio tentpole in a decade. The good news: Collision Course, which eked out a fifth-place finish, is faring better overseas, grossing another $30 million this weekend from 60 markets for a foreign total of $178 million and global cume of $199 million.
When it came to animation, U.S. audiences preferred Universal and Illumination Entertainment’s animated holdover The Secret Life of Pets, which placed No. 2 in its third weekend with $29.3 million from 4,048 locations for a domestic total of $260.7 million and worldwide haul of $323.7 million (Pets earned another $10 million overseas this weekend from 14 markets).
Elsewhere, New Line and Warner Bros.’ supernatural horror film Lights Out, which cost less than $5 million to make, tied with Ghostbusters for No. 3 with a better-than-expected $21.6 million from 2,818 theaters, thanks to a strong turnout from younger moviegoers. A full 37 percent of the audience was under the age of 18, while females made up 54 percent of all ticket buyers.
Costing a hefty $185 million to make, Star Trek Beyond will need to do strong business overseas. It opened in roughly 46 percent of the marketplace this weekend, grossing $30 million from 37 markets for a global bow of $89.6 million. (It doesn’t land in China until Sept. 2.) With a heat wave impacting Europe, the overall result was 14 percent ahead of Star Trek Into Darkness but 35 percent ahead of Star Trek.
As fate would have it, Warner Bros.’ troubled The Legend of Tarzan won the foreign race, earning $44.7 million from 61 markets, including China, where it posted a modest six-day debut of $27.1 million. Tarzan has now grossed $260.5 million, a disappointing figure considering its production budget of $185 million. In China, the pic was handily beat by director Renny Harlin’s Skiptrace, which took in at least $58 million to mark Jackie Chan’s best opening ever.
Overall, Star Trek Beyond scored the highest opening weekend ever in 17 markets, including Russia, Taiwan and Thailand. The franchise has always faced challenges in some markets where sci-fi isn’t so popular, but Paramount vice chairman Rob Moore says that’s changing. Into Darkness earned $239 million abroad, including $60 million in China. The 2009 film earned $129 million internationally.
“The first film was a completely domestic movie,” said Moore. “And then we built up Latin America and Asia. We’re confident these markets will continue to see significant growth. We have an excellent date in China, where we have no competition from another Hollywood title.”
And in North America, Moore noted that Star Trek Beyond is one of the best-performing sequels or franchise installments of the summer. “Yes, we know the domestic marketplace is tough, but we did at the hot end of what anyone was forecasting. Justin Lin delivered,” he said.
Some 390 Imax theaters, a haven for male moviegoers, turned in a hearty 14 percent of the U.S. gross. Overall, males made up 57 percent of the audience. In terms of age, 75 percent were over 25.
Lin took over directing duties from J.J. Abrams, who helmed the first two installments in the revived franchise. Simon Pegg wrote the script with Doug Jung, while Abrams’ Bad Robot banner produced the film.
Pegg, Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, John Cho, Karl Urban and the late Anton Yelchin reprise their roles, while Idris Elba and Sofia Boutella join the franchise. This time out, the crew of the USS Enterprise are stranded on an unknown planet, where they face a new enemy, the ruthless military commander Krall (Elba). The studio has already announced another film planned for the franchise, although a director has not been revealed.
The sci-fi adventure earned generally strong reviews (it shows an 84 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes) and an A- from audiences.
Conversely, Ice Age: Collision Course was skewered by critics (it sports a dismal 13 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes). The pic fared better with moviegoers, who gave it a B+. Mike Thurmeier and Galen T. Chu directed the film, which sees the lovable animals Manny, Diego and Sid trying to fend off a meteor strike that would destroy the world.
It remains to be seen whether Fox is ready to close the door on the Ice Age series. The films have now earned $3 billion worldwide, making it the most successful animated franchise in history.
Collision Course faced tough going all the way around; Pixar’s Finding Dory placed No. 6 in its sixth weekend with more than $7 million, pushing its domestic total to $460.2 million — the ninth-best showing of all time — and global cume to $781.7 million after earning another $19.5 million overseas from 45 markets.
Produced by James Wan, Lights Out stars Teresa Palmer as a young woman who tries to protect her brother from a malevolent spirit connected to their mother’s past. Overseas, the pic scared up $8.3 million from more than 30 markets for a global bow of $29.9 million.
Warner Bros. domestic distribution chief Jeff Goldstein said Lights Out continues New Line’s winning streak in the horror space after such films as The Conjuring series. “Anytime you can gross four times your production budget on opening weekend, that’s a huge win,” he said. “James Wan saw something in this young director, David Sanberg, and went for it.”
Sony’s Ghostbusters fell 53 percent in its second weekend, by far the largest drop for a movie directed by Paul Feig. The reboot has now earned $86.9 million domestically. Overseas, it took in another $10.5 million from existing markets for a foreign cume of $36 million and global total of $122.9 million.
Elsewhere, conservative author and filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza’s Hillary Clinton documentary Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party cracked the top 10 in its nationwide expansion, earning $3.7 million to $3.9 million from 1,217 theaters. The movie’s expansion is timed to the Democratic National Convention, which kicks off Monday in Philadelphia.
Among more limited offerings, Fox Searchlight’s Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie, based on the hit British TV series, took in $1.9 million from 313 theaters, thanks to interest among adult females.
And the critically acclaimed Don’t Think Twice, from director Mike Birbiglia, scored the top location average of the year to date as it opened to $90,000 in one theater.
In its second weekend, Woody Allen’s Cafe Society expanded from five theaters to a total of 50, earning $875,000 for a location average of $17,500 — the second best of the weekend — and a cume of $1.4 million for Amazon Studios and Lionsgate. The movie is far from matching the success of Midnight in Paris (2011) or Blue Jasmine (2013), but it is performing on par with To Rome With Love (2012), which topped out at a respectable $16.7 million.