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China Key To ‘Beyond’ Box Office

Trek film expected to open at $48-60 million

It has been a tough summer for movies so far, but there is some hope that it all could turn around in the next few weeks with the release of films like the all-female “Ghostbusters” reboot, as well as the film that’s at least heavily anticipated among people just like you, “Star Trek: Beyond.”

But how much could “Beyond” make on its opening weekend? Deadline’s Anthony D’Alessandro predicts it will be somewhere in the range of $48 million and $60 million.

“While that’s not a July record by any means, ‘Star Trek: Beyond’ is bound to be one of the more notable openings out of the 12 live-action wide entries on this month’s schedule,” D’Alessandro said. It would potentially best “Ghostbusters,” which premieres the weekend before.

That opening would put it behind 2009’s “Star Trek” ($72.5 million, adjusted to $81.6 million), and 2013’s “Star Trek: Into Darkness” ($70.2 million, adjusted to $72.3 million). But once again, this hasn’t been the best summer for movies so far.

Through the July 4 weekend, film revenue in North America is up just 1.3 percent compared to last year, according to Box Office Mojo. That’s a big year-over-year drop compared to the 7.1 percent jump between 2014 and 2015, but definitely better than the 2.5 percent slide between 2013 and 2014.

Movies have made $5.81 billion so far this year, the best in five years. However, when you adjust for inflation, 2016 is running behind an adjusted gross of $5.89 billion in 2012, but still ahead of the adjusted 2015 gross of $5.77 billion.

However, it’s hard to point to any movies that really stood out at the box office this year. “Captain America: Civil War” is still tops at $405.4 million and $1.1 billion internationally, according to The Numbers. “Finding Dory” is closing in fast, however, making $372.3 million in three weeks, and earning $538.3 million internationally.

“Dory” has dominated the box office the last three weeks, even edging out “The Legend of Tarzan” and a Purge sequel on their opening weeks. But “Dory” is expected to fall the weekend of July 15, if not this coming weekend, with the release of “Ghostbusters.”

Although “Beyond” has a smaller opening potential, part of that is its competition with “Ghostbusters” in its second week, especially if it gets good reviews and good word-of-mouth. “Beyond” also opens the same time as “Ice Age: Collision Course,” part of the animated franchise from 20th Century Fox that has grossed $2.8 billion in worldwide box office. In fact, “Collision Course” already has some international release, earning $20 million.

And international is key for movies in today’s day and age, including Star Trek, which outside of “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” didn’t find its way worldwide until “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.”

But no Star Trek film topped what “Into Darkness” did, earning $228.8 million at the domestic box office in 2013, but jumping to 104 percent worldwide. In comparison, the 2009 outing of “Star Trek” increased its worldwide box office just under 50 percent with international sales (see our chart at the end of the story).

And a lot of that has to do with China. A market traditionally hard for American films to break into, studios — especially Paramount Pictures — have found inroads by partnering with Chinese companies, and even using Chinese actors or locations. While “Beyond” did not film in China, it is part of a marketing deal with the Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba Group, which helped “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation” earn a little less than $136 million in China last year.

Even before partnerships like that, Star Trek was finally finding its way into China, first earning $9 million there in 2009, but then jumping to $57 million for “Into Darkness.” Some observers say “Beyond” could break nine digits.

Another Paramount film included in the Alibaba deal, “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows,” showed some early success with that partnership, opening in China over the weekend to $26.1 million — more than 41 percent bigger than the previous TMNT outing.

Just to provide some perspective, “Out of the Shadows” earned just $79.5 million domestically since it opened a month ago, but is now at $188.7 million internationally. That’s a jump of more than 137 percent — and international box office is expected to grow for the film as its run in China continues.

“Beyond,” which could be looking at a $215 million domestic gross, could help the franchise cross the $500 million mark internationally if it has even close to the growth “Out of the Shadows” has had internationally to this point.

Even if “Beyond” struggles in North America, it could have a huge international return, Deadline’s D’Alessandro said.

“While Trekkies stateside will be ever so precious about ‘Star Trek: Beyond,’ foreign audiences in burgeoning markets like Russia, South Korea, China and Latin America will be more open-minded,” he said.

Two other factors that could give “Beyond” a box office boost is that mid- to late-July is a good time for “fanboy properties” like the Dark Knight sequels, the first film in the Captain America franchise, and even “The Wolverine” didn’t do too shabby with a $53 million opening in 2013, D’Alessandro said.

Also, “Beyond” has a huge social media following, bigger than any of the other live-action movies slated to be released in July with 166.6 million people. Ghostbusters has 142.5 million, while Jason Bourne has just under 68 million.

Soon all this speculation will be over, and it will be time for “Beyond” to perform. But fans (and Paramount) will get some bigger clues to how “Beyond” might do box office wise in the next couple weeks when the first reviews for the film come out. Critics have been kind to the past two Trek films, even ecstatic. “Star Trek” earned approval of 95 percent of the critics polled by Rotten Tomatoes, while “Into Darkness” won over 86 percent of the critics polled.

“Beyond” will need numbers somewhat similar to that if it even wants a shot domestically.

“Star Trek: Beyond,” directed by Justin Lin, opens July 22.

Trek Films’ Largest International Growth (worldwide revenue, %growth over domestic)

1.   Star Trek: Into Darkness (2013)    $467.4 million    104.3%   
2.   Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)    $139.0 million    68.9%   
3.   Star Trek: Insurrection (1998)    $117.8 million    67.8%   
4.   Star Trek: First Contact (1996)    $150.0 million    63.0%   
5.   Star Trek: Generations (1994)    $120.0 million    58.5%   
6.   Star Trek: Nemesis (2002)    $67.3 million    55.4%   
7.   Star Trek (2009)    $385.7 million    49.7%   
8.   Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989)    $70.2 million    34.5%   
9.   Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991)    $96.9 million    29.4%   
10.   Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)    $95.8 million    21.4%   
11.   Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986)    $133.0 million    21.2%   
12.   Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984)    $87.0 million    13.7%   
Source: Deadline.com

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