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'Star Trek' Falls Short of Studio's Hopes

By David Germain

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Star Trek: Into Darkness has warped its way to a $70.6 million domestic launch from Friday to Sunday, though it's not setting any light-speed records with a debut that's lower than the studio's expectations.

The latest voyage of the starship Enterprise fell short of its predecessor, 2009's Star Trek, which opened with $75.2 million.

Since premiering Wednesday in huge-screen IMAX theaters and expanding Thursday to general cinemas, Into Darkness has pulled in $84.1 million, well below distributor Paramount's (NOK) initial forecast of $100 million. The film added $40 million overseas, pushing its total to $80.5 million since it began rolling out internationally a week earlier.

The Star Trek sequel bumped Iron Man 3 down to second place after two weekends on top. Robert Downey Jr.'s superhero saga took in $35.2 million domestically to lift its receipts to $337.1 million. Overseas, Iron Man 3 added $40.2 million, raising its international total to $736.2 million and its worldwide tally to nearly $1.1 billion.

While Iron Man 3 and Into Darkness did well overseas, they were outmatched by the debut of Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby, which followed its domestic debut a week earlier with a wide rollout internationally. Gatsby pulled in $42.1 million overseas, coming in a bit ahead of both Iron Man 3 and Into Darkness.

Domestically, Gatsby held up well at No. 3 with $23.4 million, lifting its total to $90.2 million.

In today's Hollywood of bigger, better sequels, follow-up films often outdo the box office of their predecessors, as each Iron Man sequel has done. While Into Darkness earned good reviews and is getting strong word-of-mouth from fans, the film did not quite measure up to the opening weekend of director J.J. Abrams' Star Trek reboot from four years ago, at least domestically.

"Star Trek remains a fan-boy movie. It doesn't seem to have the same kind of cross-over appeal as say an Iron Man or some of these others," said Paul Dergarabedian, an analyst for box-office tracker Hollywood.com. "It's a very specific brand, but I think the general public would love this movie, because it's such an action movie. But to get a hundred-million-plus opening weekend, unless you're Twilight, you really have to cross over to all audiences."

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