On paper, 'Star Trek Into Darkness' looks like a smash. It earned a starship-load of money, debuted at No. 1, and dethroned two-week box office champ "Iron Man 3." And yet, box office analysts think it underperformed, falling far short of the $100 million premiere they'd expected.

Are the pundits right? Were the "Star Trek" numbers less than stellar? Or do the analysts have a warped perspective? Alas, even cold Vulcan logic may not be able to solve this one; it really depends on your point of view. Here are the arguments on both sides.

Hit: "Star Trek Into Darkness" earned an estimated $70.6 million in North America over the weekend. Add another $13.5 million from screenings Wednesday at midnight and throughout Thursday, and the movie has a total so far of $84.1 million. Miss: Distributor Paramount was expecting a $100 million weekend. These figures didn't come close.

Hit: Still, $70.6 million is a pretty huge opening. Miss: Not by the standards of the previous installment, 2009's "Star Trek," which opened at $75.2 million from Friday to Sunday, plus another $4.0 million from Thursday screenings.

Hit: The film's take includes an impressive $13.5 million from 336 IMAX screens. That means "Star Trek" earned 16 percent of its take from IMAX, compared to 10 percent for "Iron Man 3" during its debut two weeks ago. Miss: Even with 3D and IMAX surcharges, "Into Darkness" couldn't outperform the 2009 "Star Trek," which sold only standard-price tickets.

Hit: The movie averaged $18,241 per screen, the highest of any film in current wide release. Miss: Tiny indie dramedy "Frances Ha," which opened opposite "Star Trek" this weekend, debuted on just four screens but averaged nearly twice as much, $33,500 per venue.

Hit: While the last "Star Trek" earned less than half its take overseas, the new one is doing twice as well as last time in many countries around the world. Having opened a week ago in most territories, it's already grossed $80.5 million overseas, thanks to redoubled marketing efforts abroad by Paramount. Miss: Paramount missed some marketing opportunities at home. A merchandising dispute between J.J. Abrams and CBS (which holds the rights to the "Star Trek" characters) meant few licensed products on retailers shelves and a far less ubiquitous presence than the film should have had in terms of grabbing retail consumers' attention.

Hit: A late move to a Thursday opening date may have increased the movie's premiere earnings. Miss: Or it may have harmed those earnings, since the last-minute shift may have confused ticketbuyers.

Hit: Still, no other wide-release summer-blockbuster-hopeful dared to open against it, so "Into Darkness" had the multiplex pretty much to itself. Miss: The movie still faced stiff competition from holdovers "Iron Man 3" and "The Great Gatsby," which earned almost $60 million combined this weekend. And next weekend, it'll get slammed by the one-two punch of "Fast and Furious 6" and "The Hangover Part III."

Hit: "Into Darkness" earned an A from CinemaScore, indicating especially strong word-of-mouth among the fans who saw it. Miss: So why, after 47 years of "Star Trek" TV series and movies and books and videogames, can't the franchise break out beyond its base of loyal fans?
CATEGORIES Movies