Star Trek Beyond hits theaters this weekend, and already the speculation is on as to whether it will be another hit for Paramount and the long-running sci-fi franchise or if the previous film will cause its prospects to crash and burn.
So far, hopes are high that the third entry in the rebooted franchise will take the top slot at the box office, but when compared to part two -- Star Trek Into Darkness -- expectations are down, according to Variety.
Currently, Paramount is expecting Star Trek Beyond to pull in between $55 million and $60 million. If that does occur, it will likely be good enough to wrest control away from The Secret Life of Pets and best the debuting Lights Out and Ice Age: Collision Course, but it will not be enough to match the second film's $70.2 million opening.
Even worse is the fact that Star Trek Into Darkness was a step down from the first film's debut of $75.2 million.
By setting expectations of Star Trek Beyond so much lower than the previous films, it's clear that Paramount got the message about fans' disappointment with the last entry.
If Star Trek Beyond fails to hit either of the new expectations, then it certainly will not bode well for the already announced fourth film or the upcoming television series from CBS.
The wild card in all this speculation is how previous news items will affect turnout. Director Justin Lin, cast member/co-scribe Simon Pegg, and Sulu actor John Cho recently generated controversy when they revealed that the Sulu character would be gay in this outing.
Criticism from most fans -- including George Takei, the original Sulu actor -- has been less about the presence of a gay character and more about the retconning of a character that creator Gene Roddenberry had so well established as heterosexual in the previous series, films, and novels.
Meet Sulu's husband in "Star Trek Beyond" https://t.co/phF9IvJXyW pic.twitter.com/RYXsza7TQ5
— BuzzFeed (@BuzzFeed) July 19, 2016
Given that Star Trek Beyond takes place in an alternate universe that is linked to the original "Prime" universe through time travel, it seems unlikely that changes in the space-time continuum would alter Sulu's sexual proclivities.
Nevertheless, Pegg has insisted that he's right on the matter and that Roddenberry would have wanted this if he were still alive.
Whether this ends up affecting Star Trek Beyond for the positive or the negative remains to be seen, but it's an issue that has clearly gotten people talking.
Something else that will likely influence the film's box office for the better is that it's one of the final appearances of the late Anton Yelchin, who plays Chekov. Yelchin died in a freak auto accident on June 19, 2016.
Typically, the final films of actors who suffer untimely deaths -- particularly when some of those final films are high profile blockbuster types -- perform well. The Dark Knight was an enormous hit for Heath Ledger, grossing more than $1 billion worldwide and earning him an Academy Award, while Furious 7 was the biggest film of Paul Walker's career earning more than $1.5 billion worldwide.
With how beloved Yelchin was among fans and fellow actors, his death could create a dark horse push for Star Trek Beyond to beat expectations.
Our review: #StarTrekBeyond embraces the heart of what makes the franchise great. https://t.co/w4GcIxojge pic.twitter.com/V70IQxHQpt
— The Mary Sue (@TheMarySue) July 20, 2016
Paramount will definitely need the film to have staying power if they are hoping for profitability as this one's budget is the second largest behind Star Trek Into Darkness and definitely the second largest budget of any Star Trek film, clocking in at a whopping $185 million, according to Box Office Mojo.
STID cost $190 million and grossed only $467 million worldwide. The first reboot did $385 million on a $150 million budget.
Given all the factors at play, Trekkers, what do you think Star Trek Beyond will do at the box office, and will it be a smash or a failure? Sound off in the comments section.
[Image via Paramount]