On Friday, Star Trek reached an important milestone when its U.S. box office total passed the $200 million mark. It's the first film of 2009 to cross that barrier, and that fact got me thinking: Friday was May 29. Isn't that later than usual for the first $200 million film of the year? I did some poking around at Box Office Mojo and found that my suspicions were correct.

In 2008, Iron Man hit $200 million on May 17. In 2007, Spider-Man 3 did it on May 12. In fact, since 2001, a film has always made it to $200 million before May 29, with only two exceptions: In 2006, X-Men: The Last Stand didn't achieve it until June 11, and in 2001 it was Shrek, on June 19.

To look at it another way, in some years there have been TWO $200 million films by the end of May. The reason for the deficit this year, obviously, is that the early "summer" (i.e., early May) releases didn't take off the way the tent poles in those slots usually do. X-Men Origins: Wolverine (released May 1) was a disappointment, and Angels & Demons (May 15) was never going to make the same kind of money as its predecessor.

Another factor is that May has lacked the major sequels and prequels that have usually been the biggest moneymakers. No Indiana Jones, no Spider-Man, no Star Wars, no Matrix. (In 2003, the first $200 million film was The Matrix Reloaded, which crossed the line on May 25.) If you'll recall, those movies tended to make a lot of money, and they tended to make it FAST. Like, record-breaking fast. In contrast, it took Star Trek 22 days to make $200 million -- and 31 films in history have done it in less time. Even Independence Day did it faster, and those were 1996 dollars.

So what does this mean for 2009 as a whole? Since 2001, there have usually been about six $200 million films per year. (2007 was the freak year, when a whopping 11 movies made that much.) For 2009, we only have Star Trek so far, and the only thing currently in release that might also make it to $200 million is Up. Looking at the rest of the summer, the new Transformers and Harry Potter films will almost certainly do it. And after that ... maybe that Jim Carrey A Christmas Carol thing, with the creepy Polar Express animation? Is anything else even a likely contender? Will 2009 wind up with only three or four $200 million films?