When the Next Generation cycle of Star Trek movies sputtered to an end in 2003, Nemesis closed out its run with a mediocre £4.8m in the UK, down from previous episode Insurrection's £7.7m. Paramount and JJ Abrams craftily reinvented the brand with the 2009 reboot, debuting with a tasty £5.95m (including £872,000 in previews), on its way to a total of £21.4m. Now comes the sequel, Into Darkness. Given the expanded fanbase established by the 2009 film, and the addition of Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch as the Star Fleet's formidable new foe, it's no big surprise to see numbers rise. Even so, Paramount will be more than happy with the achieved result: £8.43m including previews of £1.57m. That's a 42% rise on the debut last time around. Sequels do usually open big and then fall off a bit harder, but if Into Darkness were able to manage the same trajectory as the 2009 Star Trek, it would make it to £30m here.
Into Darkness currently enjoys an 8.4/10 score by users at IMDb, although that high mark doubtlessly reflects the enthusiasm of the "early adopter" audience. As a revival of a moribund film brand – one that looks likely to continue to deliver value to its backers for many years to come – Star Trek is a textbook example. The only dark cloud on the horizon is Abrams's switch of attention to Disney's Star Wars property.
With a drop from the previous weekend of 49.5%, Iron Man 3 has managed two consecutive falls of less than 50%, a solid achievement for a film that opened at such a high level. Star Trek Into Darkness represents fairly direct competition, so the hold at the weekend is as good as could be expected. After 18 days, the Marvel sequel has reached a nifty £31.1m, which compares to £40.3m for The Avengers at the same stage of its run. The latter film reached £51.9m in the UK, so at this point Iron Man 3 looks set to max out around £40m. The first Iron Man film reached £17.4m, while the sequel got to £21.3m. The top title of 2013 so far is Les Misérables with £40.5m, so Disney have a shot at overtaking it with Iron Man 3 by the end of its run.
The arthouse alternatives
With the previous weekend seeing the arrival of Pedro Almodóvar's I'm So Excited, rival arthouse distributors gave that date a miss. Now, a week later, a number of fresh niche titles have arrived, notably Jeff Nichols's Mud, Mira Nair's The Reluctant Fundamentalist and Tobias Lindholm's A Hijacking. Confidently marketed by well-resourced distributor eOne, Mud performed nicely on its 71 screens, landing in seventh place with £239,000 and a £3,367 average. That's a big step up from Nichols's previous film Take Shelter, which debuted with £81,000 from 55 cinemas.
The Reluctant Fundamentalist performed predictably less well, with £34,000 from 29 cinemas, and a £1,176 average. The word "thriller" has been embedded in the marketing messaging from the get-go, but audiences may not have been quite convinced. Other assets included Mira Nair's name, the source material (Mohsin Hamid's acclaimed novel) and a cast including Riz Ahmed, Liev Schreiber, Kate Hudson and Kiefer Sutherland. Nair's previous film, little-loved aviator biopic Amelia, debuted in November 2009 with £49,000 from 133 cinemas.
Lindholm, who co-wrote The Hunt with Thomas Vinterberg and was on the writing team for 20 episodes of TV's Borgen, directs for the second time with A Hijacking, following the negligibly released (in the UK) R: Hit First, Hit Hardest. A debut of £26,400 from 13 screens yielded an acceptable average of £2,031.
Still in the top 10 in its second week of play, I'm So Excited dropped 44% from its debut, a bigger drop than you'd expect for a major arthouse title, for a 10-day cume of £611,000. Almodóvar's previous film The Skin I Live In fell 36% on its second weekend (for a 10-day total of £878,000), while Broken Embraces dipped only 27% at that stage for a total of £745,00 after two weekends. The concern for the new Almodóvar is not so much the gap between the number achieved and the previous films at the same stage, as the rate of descent, which suggests audience word is less than positive.
Landing with a thud in 17th place, heist thriller Deadfall predictably failed to engage cinema audiences. Starring Eric Bana, Olivia Wilde and Charlie Hunnam, the cast alone couldn't punch the film through, and this always looked more like a DVD title. Debuting with £34,000 from 104 screens, and a £328 average, look for the film to make a swift exit from cinemas.
Thanks to the arrival of Into Darkness, overall the market was 36% up on the previous weekend and 25% up on the equivalent frame from 2012, when highest new entrant Dark Shadows landed in third place (behind The Avengers and American Pie: Reunion). The good news looks set to continue for cinemas, since the long-awaited The Great Gatsby lands on Thursday, fresh from its $51m US debut. Then the next day, it's the turn of Fast & Furious 6, the latest from a franchise that has been steadily growing in box office over the past few films. Hoping to pick up a few crumbs is British road-trip thriller The Liability, starring Jack O'Connell and Tim Roth.
Top 10 films
1. Star Trek Into Darkness, £8,431,574 from 554 sites (new)
2. Iron Man 3, £3,182,108 from 524 sites. Total: £31,122,954
3. 21 and Over, £580,981 from 371 sites. Total: £1,903,367
4. All Stars, £498,334 from 412 sites. Total: £1,378,486
5. The Croods, £383,502 from 458 sites. Total: £25,558,984
6. Olympus Has Fallen, £362,772 from 306 sites. Total: £5,881,469
7. Mud, £239,037 from 71 sites (new)
8. I'm So Excited, £142,240 from 83 sites. Total: £611,304
9. The Place Beyond the Pines, £139,045 from 140 sites. Total: £3,230,966
10. Oblivion, £129,648 from 196 sites. Total: £10,486,465
Go Goa Gone, 40 sites, £47,089
The Reluctant Fundamentalist, 29 sites, £34,102
Deadfall, 104 sites, £33,897
A Hijacking, 13 sites, £24,402
Journey to Italy (rerelease), 4 sites, £14,521
Our Children, 8 sites, £8,405
Amaidhi Padai 2, 8 sites, £5,022
Immanuel, 8 sites, £1,637
Village at the End of the World, 2 sites, £1,579 (+ £4,246 previews)
Vehicle 19, 1 site, £239
Beat Girl, 1 site, £51
• Thanks to Rentrak.
This article originally appeared on guardian.co.uk