LOS ANGELES • Paramount's expensive Star Trek Beyond managed to take in about US$59.6 million (S$81 million) in domestic theatres over the weekend, a solid debut for one of Hollywood's most timeworn franchises.
For its part, Warner Bros found another low-budget horror hit in Lights Out, but 20th Century Fox's fifth Ice Age collapsed.
Initial ticket sales for Star Trek Beyond, which cost Paramount and its partners about US$185 million, not including marketing costs, fell 15 per cent below the opening weekend total for its 2013 series predecessor, Star Trek Into Darkness.
That kind of erosion typically signals franchise fatigue - a troubling sign as Paramount, struggling to turn a profit and partly up for sale, pushes forward with yet another instalment.
On the flip side, it can be argued that results for Star Trek Beyond, especially during a summer in which multiple big-budget sequels have flopped, reflect a job well done by Paramount.
Maintaining moviegoer interest in a 50-year-old entertainment franchise, which was originally designed for television audiences, is not easy.
Star Trek Beyond, which received strong reviews, attracted an older audience. About 73 per cent of ticket buyers were over 25, Paramount said.
Second place at the North American box office went to The Secret Life Of Pets. Made by Universal's division Illumination Entertainment, it took in about US$29.3 million, for a three-week total of US$260.7 million, according to comScore, which compiles ticket- ing data.
Tying in third place with an estimated US$21.6 million in sales apiece were Ghostbusters (Sony), for a two-week domestic total of almost US$87 million, and Lights Out, which notably cost only US$5 million to make.
Although Fox backed Ice Age: Collision Course with an aggressive promotional campaign, the animated sequel managed only US$21 million in ticket sales - 55 per cent less than Ice Age: Continental Drift had during its first three days in 2012.
Americans may be losing interest in the Ice Age characters, but the series has long been mostly a play for international sales.
Continental Drift ultimately took in US$877 million worldwide, with 81 per cent of that total coming from international theatres.
So far, Collision Course has taken in more than US$179 million overseas.
NEW YORK TIMES