Box Office Special - Smells Like Summer

Last week, "Star Trek" did quite well for itself, as it managed to take in a terrific opening haul as well as win near universal praise from critics. So, as these things tend to work, Paramount immediately rolled out its front-runner advertising campaign, which championed "Star Trek" as the nation's number one movie, etc, etc. Unfortunately, they're only going to get one week out of those ads. The blockbuster train waits for no film, and this week "Angels and Demons" fought its way to the top of the hill. That's not to say that "Trek" did poorly, in fact, quite the opposite was true as young Kirk and Spock nearly took another weekend title, and ended up coming in only 10% below "Angels."

Now, getting back to that commercial. I caught one of Paramount's new "Trek" spots during the Magic-Celtics game seven last night, and along with mentioning its opening weekend win, the ad also quotes several critics, one of whom calls the movie "this year's 'Iron Man.'"

This is an interesting assertion on several fronts. Most obviously, "Trek" and "Iron Man" were both big May films. Both films have remarkably similar Rotten Tomatoes scores: 93 for "Iron Man" and 95 for "Trek." (Somewhat surprisingly, "top critics" actually favored "Iron" 92 to 91). And perhaps most serendipitously, both films were distributed by Paramount (which actually explains why their ads would want to call attention to the earlier film). But while "Star Trek" has enjoyed a great two week run, it hasn't been quite the phenomenon that "Iron Man" was in 2008. The latter film's first three weekend totals -- $98 mil (1st place), $51 (1st), $32 (2nd) -- are among some of the best three weekend totals you'll see. In fact, "Iron Man's" 2nd weekend was the 13th best of all time, "Trek" made it to 23.

The lion's share of the disparity between the films can probably be explained by timing. May has cemented itself as the first big opportunity for studios to roll out their blockbuster fare. In 2008, "Iron Man" essentially had two full weekends to itself (its toughest 2nd week competition was "Speed Racer"). "Trek" had to follow in the footsteps of a big earner in "Wolverine," then had "Angels and Demons" right on its heels. Next week it doesn't get any easier.

For Memorial Day weekend, fans will get to see the long awaited 4th "Terminator" film as well as "Night at the Museum 2." Overall, the business has continued to boom. One thing that we can say for sure, is that even if "Star Trek" hasn't quite matched "Iron Man," the 2009 May box has been outpacing 2008, if by only a a few percentage points. Things aren't going to slow down either, as coming down the pipe to close out the month is Pixar's new joint, "Up," as well as a little film you might have seen discussed around these parts: "Drag Me to Hell."

Welcome to summer.

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