Wolverine v. Star Trek


Aug 16, 2005
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Interesting analysis at IESB, since Star Trek is coming out a week after Wolverine.


Showdown 2009: Star Trek vs. Wolverine…Who Will Win?
Written by Silas Lesnick
Monday, 18 February 2008

With Star Trek's sudden shift to a summer of 2009 release, the crew of the Enterprise is going head to head with everybody's favorite mutant. So who's making the mistake? The IESB investigates.

Back in the day, Star Trek and X-Men were the best of friends. Paramount even had an imprint with Marvel Comics in the late 90's that published Trek comics and there was, as silly as it sounds, a surprisingly good Star Trek/X-Men crossover (followed immediately by a less good Next Generation/X-Men crossover).

Bryan Singer, the man who brought X-Men to the screen, is a self-professed Star Trek fan, even going so far as to cameo in Star Trek: Nemesis. He describes his maybe-one-day Superman sequel as equivalent to The Wrath of Khan and, of course, pulled in Jean-Luc Picard for the role of Xavier. Check out the closing monologues of Khan and X-Men 2 and see if you can spot the serious homaging going on.

Despite some past camaraderie, though, Trek's new release date of 5/8/09 has it hitting exactly one week after X-Men's Wolverine spinoff and as cool as it may seem to have such a jam-packed summer, this is bad news for genre fans.

When I was a boy, Trek movies came out just before Christmas. Seven of the previous ten films hit in either November or December. While I can't suggest that Abrams' Trek reconsider for the sake of my personal nostalgia, I do think there's some evidence that a May release is a bad move.

Let's look at the numbers:

The very first Star Trek film opened in December of 1979 to the domestic tune of $82.2 million and $56.8 in foreign markets ($139 million total worldwide). That, by today's standards, rounds out to a truly strong showing of $223.5 million domestic (about $375 million worldwide). A franchise is born.

From there, Trek moves to the summer where, three years later, The Wrath of Khan is released in June. It hits $78.9 million domestic, $17.9 foreign for $96.8 total worldwide ($183.1 million, adjusted domestic, $224.6 worldwide total). That's followed by The Search for Spock two years later with $76.5 million domestic, $10.5 million foreign for $87 million worldwide ($155.2 million / $175.7 adjusted). Both are successful but Trek's feeling the diminishing returns with each film.

The Voyage Home hits another two years later but the switch is made back to the end of the year. The result? $109.7 million domestic, $23.3 million foreign for $133 million worldwide ($196.9 / $238.1 adjusted). The point being that a November opening resulted in a bigger box office…and that people really like whales.

But Paramount didn't learn its lesson and bumped Trek back to summertime for the awful Shatner-directed The Final Frontier. That film made only $52.2 million domestic, $17.3 million foreign for $70 million worldwide ($89.7 / $119 adjusted), less than half that of the previous outing.

So the lesson was learned; Star Trek movies open better at the end of the year. The next five films all opened in November or December and, with the exception of the even-worse-than-Star-Trek-5 tenth film, each was a bona fide box office success.

Despite the fact that Star Trek: Nemesis opened in December of 2002, its take of only $43.4 million domestic and $23.6 million foreign for $67 million worldwide proves another sad truth; People aren't going to pay to see a Star Trek film just because it has Star Trek in the title.

X-Men, on the other hand...

The X-Men films have, by comparison, blown Trek out of the water. The first film opened to $157.3 million. X-Men 2 grossed $214.9 million and -- the real kicker -- X-Men 3 hit $234.4 million.

For X-Men, that's only domestic. The numbers just about double when you look at foreign grosses for the three films of $139, $192, and $225 million, respectively. That brings worldwide totals to $296 million for the first film, $407 million for X-Men 2 and $459 million for X-Men 3. For whatever reason, Trek has always failed to be a real performer on the foreign market.

As a fan of both franchises, I'll go out on fanboy limb and say that X-Men 3 and Star Trek: Nemesis are about as poorly made they could possibly have been. That's a fact that killed Trek at the box office and bounced harmlessly off X-Men 3 as its domestic gross rose meteorically.

Imagine for a second that Wolverine and Abrams' Star Trek are nothing but crap. (And, in both cases, I think that's going to be far from the case.) History seems to say that Wolverine could still be a hit just because it has X-Men in the title. Star Trek's a title that -- for a bad movie -- could alienate new audiences and -- as a revamp -- longstanding fans as well.

So why May, Star Trek? There's two distinct explanations:

Best case scenario, Star Trek is the most amazing and impressive film anyone has ever seen. The studio is so incredibly confident in it that all other summer blockbusters can just get out of its way as it becomes the biggest movie of all time.

I really, really wish that were the case but somehow, I doubt it and explanation number two is probably a little closer to the truth:

There's no way the film is going to be done by this Christmas. There's rumors that the budget has grown immensely and that Paramount is looking a final price tag north of $200 million dollars. Star Trek -- as much as I love it -- has the potential to bomb and bomb hard. If the whispers are true of a budget that high, this film is only going to a real success with a franchise following it.

If it is a matter of waiting so that what goes on-screen is the best possible Trek film, I'm all for it but I'd be inclined to wait even longer if that's what's best for Trek. I'd love to see it still hit this December but if the move is a necessity rather than a marketing gimmick, even December of 2009 seems preferential.

Will Star Trek get gutted by Wolverine? We want to know what you think, send me an email and let me know your thoughts. [email protected]
It's an interesting analysis. I'm sure Wolverine will have a great opening weekend, and if the movie is good, I'm sure it will hold up just fine. Star Trek will most likely put a decent dent in Wolverine's second weekend numbers, but again, if Wolverine is a quality movie, it shouldn't have too much of a problem.
Star Trek is iconic, and will get more press coverage. It also has the most pressure to deliver... and the lack of the 'classic' cast will be a disadvantage.

There's no doubt that Star Trek will put a dent in Wolverine's second weekend takings. But as long as the Wolverine movie is good, solid, quality stuff, it should hold its own and get good word of mouth.

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