Monday, May 29, 2006

Now MI3 has been in theatres for several weeks, and the buzz has been that it did not live up to box office expectations. Some stories, such as this one at Fox News, suggest the failure to match opening weekend expectations, and its subsequent fall-off, has induced nothing less than panic at Paramount, leading perhaps to people losing their jobs.

Other stories suggest it’s not that bad---that Paramount came close enough, and that overseas ticket sales were strong enough. Moreover, so far nobody seems to be blaming Abrams. Most fault the off-screen antics and perhaps fading box office appeal of Tom Cruise, star of all three MI features. Reviewers tended to praise the story and storytelling.

But Star Trek fans will recall the rationalizations of the disappointing opening weekend of Star Trek Nemesis, while by now the film is firmly reputed a commercial failure. While MI3 managed to stay #1 against the release of the woeful “Poisedon,” it is currently being blown out of the water by the release of X-Men 3, featuring the star of the failed previous Trek film, Patrick Stewart.

Outside of Washington, Hollywood is the prime place where perception becomes reality, however unjustified by the facts. If MI3 comes to be viewed as a commercial failure, especially within Paramount, how much money it actually makes won’t matter.

The fate of MI3 can influence the fate of Star Trek XI in several ways, but most of them wind up involving budget. Will Paramount express its confidence in Abrams and his team with the budget to do a bigger Trek film than any so far, except perhaps the first? Or is it so bad that Paramount now can’t afford such a gamble?

So did they hire a hot producer-director to do the kind of very calculated, limited budget Trek movies that previous Trek directors and producers had to make? Are they hoping he’s used to television budgets, and hasn’t been spoiled by the major money spent on MI3?

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