‘Star Trek’ Debuts With Sales of $59.6 Million for Paramount

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“Star Trek Beyond,” the third installment in the cinematic reboot of the 1960s sci-fi series, opened as the No. 1 film in North America this weekend, generating $59.3 million in sales for theaters and Viacom Inc.’s Paramount Pictures.

“Lights Out,” a horror movie from Time Warner Inc.’s Warner Bros., made its debut and tied for third place with sales of $21.7 million in U.S. and Canadian theaters, researcher ComScore Inc. said Monday in an e-mailed statement. “Ice Age: Collision Course,” a new animated feature from 20th Century Fox, opened at a disappointing No. 4 with $21.4 million.

Sales from the opening of “Star Trek,” directed for the first time by Justin Lin of “Fast & Furious,” were in line with expectations. Forecasts ranged from a low of $58.5 million at Hollywood Stock Exchange to a high of $61 million at BoxOfficePro.com. The studio was projecting sales in the high $50 million range, with a chance of topping $60 million.

The respectable opening is good news for Viacom Chief Executive Officer Philippe Dauman, who’s trying to sell a stake in Paramount to repay debt and boost production. The studio has suffered several box-office disappointments this year, and Dauman’s plan to seek an investment partner is opposed by the company’s controlling stockholder. That’s led to a fight for control of the parent company.

The budget for “Star Trek Beyond” underscores the importance for the company. Paramount spent $185 million making the picture, according to Box Office Mojo, and tens of millions more on marketing. That suggests the film will also need to muster a strong international performance, since ticket sales are shared with theater owners. A fourth “Star Trek” is in the works.

Critics liked “Star Trek Beyond,” with the website RottenTomatoes.com registering 84 percent positive reviews. The domestic debut was smaller than the two previous films directed by J.J Abrams, who served as a producer this go-round. “Star Trek Into Darkness” opened with sales of $70.2 million three years ago, while the original 2009 reboot registered $79.2 million, according to ComScore.

In the new movie, cast members led by Chris Pine as Captain Kirk reprise their roles as the Enterprise crew coming to the end of a five-year tour of deep space. They encounter an alien warrior race on a distant planet where they are marooned after their ship is destroyed by the villain Krall, played by Idris Elba.

“Ice Age: Collision Course” had been expected to collect $26 million to $33.3 million on its debut for 21st Century Fox Inc.’s film division. The animated feature cost $105 million to make, according to Box Office Mojo. The film picks up Scrat’s elusive acorn chase, this time taking the toothy squirrel into space. It is the fifth film in the franchise.

Warner Bros.’s low budget horror feature “Lights Out” beat estimates that ranged from $14.5 million at BoxOfficePro to $17.6 million at Hollywood Stock Exchange. It cost $4.9 million to make, according to Box Office Mojo.

(Updates with final weekend totals.)
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