A couple of weeks ago, when Paramount quietly announced that they were not planning any press screenings for “Star Trek Beyond,” word immediately went out that the film had to be a complete disaster. Just like Fox did when they had no advance screenings for their big summer offering “Independence Day: Resurgence,” it looked like yet another big summer tent-pole film was headed for the scrap heap of the lousy films of 2016.
However Paramount did change their mind and screened the film to selected “Star Trek” fanboys who, of course, raved about it in tweets, and on their Facebook pages. But most people ignored the buzz since fanboys are notorious for loving intensely anything they see. You can have a three-hour Batman film with him just farting, directed by Zack Synder and fanboys will have orgasms over it, as if it’s the greatest film ever made.
But Paramount did set up some press junket screenings for “Star Trek,” in which certain select journalists were invited to see the film in advance, in exchange for interviews with the cast members and the director.
Now, when studios set up press junkets, it sometimes can be under the understanding that the invited journalists will not write anything negative about the film, or else they’ll be never invited to a press junket again.
But the journalists at the “Star Trek” junkets actually liked what they saw, and begun tweeting their positive reactions, and writing good reviews about it too, which caused Paramount to reconsider what they had, realizing that maybe they lucked out and had a really good film after all. So the studio hurriedly rushed press screenings for the film, at the very last minute, hoping that they didn’t blow it.
So did Paramount’s uncertain promotion of “Beyond” hurt it at the box office? Perhaps it did. Though it was No. 1 this weekend, with $59 million, that’s the lowest opening number of the current “Star Trek” reboots. 2009’s “Star Trek” opened with $75 million, while 2013’s sequel, “Into the Darkness,” opened with $70 million. But if word of mouth is good – and it has been so far – there’s a reasonable chance that “Beyond” could wind up equaling what previous recent “Star Trek” films have grossed.
The two biggest surprises this weekend were the huge 53% drop for the all-female reboot of “Ghostbusters.” It’s even more unfortunate, considering last week’s story on the racist Twitter abuse that co-star Leslie Jones received and went public about. However, the deal is that word of mouth for the film has been very mixed, almost split 50/50 between people who really love it, and do those who just hate it. Little in the middle. And that’s not good enough for a film to really do well at the box office. Hopefully the overseas numbers will improve its chances.
The other surprise was right-wing gadfly Dinesh D’Souza’s paranoid, unintentionally funny, pseudo-documentary attacking Hillary Clinton and the Democratic party, titled “Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party.” The film, which accuses the Democratic Party of being the creators of racism in American, and the originators of slavery (like the GOP is the party of brotherly love) jumped from 37th last week to ninth place. No doubt the GOP convention last week helped a lot; but let’s face it, the film has a built in, loyal audience, even though it’s not that large. It’s no competition for “Star Trek” or “Finding Dory.”
Universal/Illumination’s “The Secret Life of Pets” is still holding on very strong in second place, with a total to date of $260.7 million ($323.7 million worldwide to date), making it a huge box office hit for Universal, given the film’s $75 million budget. But the bigger winner was Warner’s horror film “Lights Out,” which came in fourth place, with $21 million, and was made for an extremely modest $5 million; It’s already a money-maker for the studio.
This weekend’s top 12 grossers follow below:
1) Star Trek Beyond Par. $59,600,000
2) The Secret Life of Pets Uni. $29,330,000 Total: $260,708,745
3) Ghostbusters Sony $21,600,000 Total: $86,856,739
4) Lights Out WB (NL) $21,600,000 Total: $21,600,000
5) Ice Age: Collision Course Fox $21,000,000 Total: $21,000,000
6) Finding Dory BV $7,220,000 Total: $460,199,
7) The Legend of Tarzan WB $6,430,000 Total: $115,824,084
8) Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates Fox $4,400,000 -Total: $40,357,747
9) Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party QF $3,700,000 Total: $3,791,524
10) The Infiltrator BG $3,293,840 Total: $12,239,750
11) Central Intelligence WB (NL) $2,850,000 Total: $123,168,163
12) The Purge: Election Year Uni. $2,350,000 Total: $76,592,220