Star Trek Into Darkness set its box-office phasers on stun, but it managed only a glancing blow at theaters.
The sequel to the 2009 film collected $70.6 million, according to studio estimates from Hollywood.com. The J.J. Abrams film, which opened Thursday, has taken in $84 million in four days.
The debut marked a decisive win at theaters but fell short of a projected weekend haul of $90 million to $100 million. The film opened slightly below 2009's reboot, which brought in $75.2 million.
Though the film, starring Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto, likely has plenty of momentum to recoup its $190 million budget, "it appears that four years of anticipation and help from 3-D ticket prices isn't really giving Into Darkness much of a boost," says Ray Subers of Box Office Mojo.
In Darkness' corner: strong word of mouth. The film is one of the best-reviewed of 2013, earning a thumbs-up from 87% of the nation's critics, says pollster Rottentomatoes.com.
And fans are beaming aboard. An impressive 89% of moviegoers said they liked the film, Rottentomatoes.com says, and Darknessearned an "A" from survey site CinemaScore.
But analysts say the debut could signal a quick exit from theaters.
"Suddenly, there is now a good deal to worry about," says Tim Briody, an analyst for Boxofficeprophets.com. "In this era where it simply makes sense for an A-list sequel to open higher than the previous entry, we have the first high-profile tentpole to fall flat."
Still, no film came close to Darkness. Iron Man 3 took second place with $35.2 million, followed by The Great Gatsby with $23.4 million.
Michael Bay's Pain & Gain lingered in the top five, taking fourth place with $3.1 million. The animated comedy The Croods earned $2.8 million.
Final figures are expected today.
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