People dig Tony Stark more than Spock—at least, that’s the message behind the box-office numbers this week. While Star Trek Into Darkness debuted at No. 1, it pulled in only $70 million, far behind the $174 million of Iron Man 3’s opening weekend. In fact, Star Trek didn’t even beat the $75 million that J.J. Abrams’s first Star Trek movie earned in 2009. Over the entire four-day weekend, Into Darkness made $84 million, significantly less than Paramount’s expectations of $100 million.
There’s no clear reason for Star Trek’s stumble. Its reviews were largely positive and 3-D prices should have boosted revenue. Maybe it was of a slightly more limited appeal. Compared with Iron Man 3’s audience, people who went to see Star Trek Into Darkness skewed older (73 percent were over age 25) and male (64 percent). And moviegoers had several colorful and loud blockbusters to choose from: Iron Man 3, of course, but also Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby made off with $23 million in its second weekend in theaters. The road will only get rougher for the Starship Enterprise. Starting Memorial Day weekend, Fast & Furious 6 and The Hangover Part III will join the fray.
By one measure, Star Trek was even bested by Noah Baumbach’s indie comedy Frances Ha. The black-and-white film played on only four screens this past weekend, but it pulled in $33,500 for each one. With 3,800 theaters, Star Trek averaged $18,200 per screen. This franchise is definitely going a little less boldly than it was before.