‘Star Trek’ Sequel Is Top Weekend Film With $70.6 Million

“Star Trek Into Darkness,” the second film in J.J. Abrams reboot of the venerable film franchise, was the top movie at U.S. and Canadian theaters this weekend, taking in $70.6 million for Paramount Pictures.

“Iron Man 3” dropped to second place with sales of $35.2 million, after two weeks in the top spot, Hollywood.com Box-Office said today in a statement. The film from Walt Disney Co.’s Marvel has generated $1.07 billion worldwide since it opened on May 3.

The two movies have helped to re-energize the box office at the start of the summer movie season, which stretches to September. Next weekend, two more high-grossing franchises return to theaters -- “The Hangover III,” from Time Warner Inc.’s Warner Bros. unit, and “Fast & Furious 6,” from Comcast Corp.’s Universal Pictures.

While “Star Trek” had a “strong opening by normal standards, more was expected,” said Phil Contrino, chief analyst for researcher BoxOffice.com.

“The lesson here is that Hollywood needs to spread out movies more,” he said. “Right now you have big title after big title opening back to back, and when that happens, some of the movies will naturally be hurt.”

Sales Down

U.S. and Canadian movie sales have picked up since April, thanks to such films as “Iron Man 3” and “The Great Gatsby,” though they have failed to match the pace set by Walt Disney Co.’s record-breaking “The Avengers” last year. Year-to-date sales of $3.6 billion are down 11 percent, compared with a year earlier, according to Hollywood.com, another researcher.

“Star Trek Into Darkness,” made for about $190 million, opened on May 16, a day earlier than originally planned, and took in $84.1 million over those four days. It was forecast to take about $100 million in that period, the estimate of Boxoffice.com.

The three-day forecast for the movie, from May 17, was for $85 million, according to the researcher. The film’s debut was moved forward to capture a larger share of college students recently returned home for the summer, a studio spokeswoman said last week.

“Star Trek,” Abrams’ first reboot of the sci-fi franchise in 2009, was also made by Paramount, a unit of Viacom Inc. It generated $257.7 million domestically and had a worldwide total of $385.7 million, according to Box Office Mojo, another researcher.

‘Great Gatsby’

In the sequel, the USS Enterprise is sent to battle an ingenious villain, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, following a devastating surprise attack on Starfleet. Chris Pine returns as the younger version of Captain James T. Kirk and Zachary Quinto again plays Spock. The picture won positive ratings in 87 percent of 199 reviews surveyed by the website Rottentomatoes.com.

“Star Trek Into Darkness” was the only new film opening in wide release this weekend.

In “Iron Man 3,” the ingenuity and confidence of Downey’s billionaire industrialist character, Tony Stark, are tested after a surprise attack destroys his laboratory and the armored suits he dons to become Iron Man.

Ben Kingsley stars as The Mandarin, the apparent terrorist who threatens the world order. Don Cheadle returns as Stark’s friend, James Rhodes, and Gwyneth Paltrow reprises her role as Pepper Potts.

Among other returning films, “The Great Gatsby,” from Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow Pictures, dropped to third from second place with $23.4 million.

‘The Croods’

The film, director Baz Luhrmann’s interpretation of the F. Scott Fitzgerald novel about unrequited love set in the Roaring ’20s, has taken in $90.2 million since it opened on May 10. The movie stars Leonardo DiCaprio as the enigmatic Gatsby and Carey Mulligan as Daisy Buchanan, the object of his obsession.

“‘Gatsby’s’ continued success speaks volumes about the kind of movie that can perform well in the summer movie season,” Contrino said. “It doesn’t just have to be superhero and action films that do well. There is an audience for serious films even in the summer.”

Paramount’s “Pain & Gain” finished fourth with $3.1 million, followed by Fox’s “The Croods,” whose receipts totaled $2.75 million.

Weekend revenue for the top 12 films rose 8.1 percent to $146.6 million from the year-earlier period, Hollywood.com said. Attendance is down 11 percent year to date.

The amounts below are based on actual ticket sales for May 17 and May 18 and estimates for today.

                  Rev.               Avg./    Pct.   Total
   Movie         (mln)    Theaters  Theater   Chg.   (mln)   Wks
 1 STAR TREK      $70.6    3,868   $18,241     --    $84.1    1
 2 IRON MAN 3      35.2    4,237     8,304    -51    337.1    3
 3 GATSBY          23.4    3,550     6,596    -53     90.2    2
 4 PAIN & GAIN      3.1    2,429     1,276    -38     46.6    4
 5 THE CROODS       2.75   2,373     1,159    -24    176.8    9
 6 42               2.73   2,380     1,147    -40     88.7    6
 7 OBLIVION         2.22   2,077     1,070    -46     85.5    5
 8 MUD              2.16     960     2,250    -15     11.6    4
 9 T.P. PRESENTS    2.15   2,041     1,053    -53      7.86   2
10 THE BIG WEDDING  1.1    1,443       762    -56     20.2    4
11 OZ THE GREAT     0.758    535     1,417    -30    231.2   11
12 GI JOE: RETAL.   0.525    409     1,284    -14    120.5    8

Top 12 Films Grosses

This Week Year Ago Pct. (mln) (mln) Chg. =================================== $146.6 $135.7 +8.1

Year-to-date Revenue

2013 2012 YTD YTD Pct. (mln) (mln) Chg. =================================== $3,553 $4,001 -11 Year-to-date Attendance: -11%