(EW.com) -- The USS Enterprise picked up steam throughout the weekend, despite a somewhat unimpressive start.
Early estimates show that J.J. Abrams' "Star Trek Into Darkness" (CinemaScore: A) could bring in $70.6 million on the three-day weekend, and $84.1 million for the four and a half days that it has been open. Though nothing to scoff at, it's still underperforming according to initial projections, which hoped for a $100 million extended weekend and $80 million on the three-day.
The first "Star Trek" of the Abrams era opened in early May of 2009 and made an impressive $75.2 million on its first weekend out of the gates, without the benefit of 3-D surcharges. This newest film is showing in 336 IMAX 3-D theaters, whereas the first showed in 138 IMAX venues — accounting for $8.5 million in ticket sales on its first weekend.
As we previously said, the nature of Abrams' four different directing projects makes him difficult to analyze in terms of pure box office numbers, so his "Star Trek" successes and potential will have to stand on its own. The first film stayed in theaters for 21 weeks, ultimately grossing $257.7 million for Paramount.
This is a franchise that seems separate from its stars. Chris Pine, who plays Captain Kirk, for example, has not proven to be a box office draw on his own. Again, this opening weekend isn't bad, but it's interesting to think about why it couldn't live up to early estimates — especially considering the runaway success of "Iron Man 3." Perhaps four years is too big of a gap between films. There was a three-year gap between "Iron Man 2" and "Iron Man 3," but releasing "The Avengers" during the hiatus was likely important for keeping the character present.
"Iron Man 3" continues to do well at the box office in spite of the new competition from "Star Trek Into Darkness," making an estimated $35.2 million in its third weekend in theaters. This brings its domestic total to $337.1 million.
"The Great Gatsby" took the No. 3 spot with a $23.4 million weekend, bringing its domestic total to an estimated $90.2 million. The $100 million mark is close for Baz Luhrmann, and it would be a first for the Australian director, even accounting for price inflation. This could partially be the Leonardo DiCaprio effect, the ubiquity and appeal of the novel, or an indication that there is room amidst sci-fi and comic book blockbusters for other types of films — even if this literary adaptation is also a 3-D release.
The No. 4 spot went to Michael Bay's "Pain & Gain," which made $3.1 million in 2,429 locations. It's only down 38 percent from last week despite the fact that it lost 874 theaters. The relatively inexpensive ($26 million) Dwayne Johnson/Mark Wahlberg flick has made $46.7 million domestically so far.
Rounding out the top five is "The Croods," the Nicolas Cage and Emma Stone-voiced cave-family animated picture, which last appeared on the list two weeks ago. The $135 million movie has made an estimated $176.6 million domestically in its 9 weeks in theaters.
As one of the only family friendly films available in theaters at the moment, it's unsurprising that it continues to quietly do well.
1. "Star Trek Into Darkness" — $70.6 million (3-day)
2. "Iron Man 3" — $35.2 million
3. "The Great Gatsby" --$23.4 million
4. "Pain and Gain" — $3.1 million
5. "The Croods" — $2.8 million
Noah Baumbach's "Frances Ha" also opened this weekend in four theaters, bringing in $134,000 with an impressive per theater average. Baumbach's previous three films all played in under 200 theaters.
Check back next weekend for some powerhouse face-offs, with Universal's "Fast & Furious 6," Warner Bros. "The Hangover Part III" and Fox's "Epic" all opening wide.
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