Star Trek Into Darkness is under-performing stateside. Paramount is in spin mode but you can't put a good face on missing your weekend projections by $20 million. Even with the 3D and IMAX add-ons, there remains doubt the 4-day opening can match the 3 day (and change) launch for Star Trek this time back in 2009. This is more Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows and less The Dark Knight to their liking.
The rest of the summer will be spent figuring out what happened. And while it's easy to place the blame on Benedict Cumberbatch (not entirely unjustified; he's a great actor but like Tom Hardy doesn't have four-quad appeal outside his devoted online fan-base that just plain got overestimated) or the four-year gap between films and call it a day, the real culprit is staring at our face.
That damn Mystery Box.
We all appreciate the effort made by J.J. Abrams and his Bad Robot underlings. Going into a big blockbuster with as clean a slate as possible and no idea what we're getting into. The detail to secrecy however is at an OCD level. Christopher Nolan is big on keeping mum too (Fake spoilers ran wild for The Dark Knight Rises). But you have to clue the audience in on basic components like who the villain is. Nolan gets that. Hence they announced Tom Hardy was Bane and moved on.
Honest question. Had they scored Benicio Del Toro for Khan, would they have kept the "John Harrison" con (No pun intended) going? Or is this about secrecy for the sake of secrecy? Even when it became the worst kept secret online, they still insisted Cumberbatch wasn't Khan. When the film you're protecting from spoiler-predators fails to live up to the Mystery Box hype, you have a problem. Ironically, Star Trek is Abrams' only film to buck that trend.
He may have left for Star Wars: Episode VII. But this high-profile of a letdown (and following the OK, but slightly disappointing, results for Super 8) makes it doubtful the Mystery Box will be anywhere close to a galaxy far, far away. It's why I remain confident he'll pull it off. Too much is riding on this to allow Abrams to keep playing that game. Kathleen Kennedy will keep her eye out. That's not a bad thing. Abrams has shown he's a filmmaker, like many, who can produce great product with a careful amount of restraint.
And what of us fans (Read: me) still hopeful they can repair the damage from Star Trek Into Darkness? El Mayimbe is promising a scoop the start of this week on who Abrams and Paramount want for Star Trek 3 (Sounds like Attack the Block helmer Joe Cornish but we'll see). And don't for a second, doubt it won't happen. The studio needs inventory and still reeling from the loss of Marvel and DreamWorks. We'll get a third film; probably by 2016 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the original series. Sadly with those same shit-for-brains writers.
Hey, you can't win them all...