The team behind the sequel to 2009's "Star Trek" got a late start. And because of that, there will be no "Star Trek 2" in 2012. Instead, it could be Paramount's summer tentpole in 2013.
That's the official word from Philippe Dauman, chief executive of Viacom, the parent company of Paramount Pictures. He made those comments during an earnings conference call where Viacom reported triple earnings and revenue growth of 22 percent.
In fact, thanks to films like "Transformers: Dark of the Moon," Viacom actually earned $576 million in the quarter. That equated to about $1 per share, and was done on the worldwide take of more than $1 billion for Transformers, as well as $95 million for "Paranormal Activity 3," which cost only a fraction of that to produce. In fact, Paramount was about all Dauman could talk about with investors and analysts.
While Viacom wants to see such high revenue growth continue, the company knows it might be a little while for its venerable Star Trek franchise to contribute. The plan had been for a 2012 release for "Star Trek 2," but accommodating director J.J. Abrams' schedule took a little finesse, and filming isn't even expected to start until early 2012. Because so much time was needed for post-production, Paramount could've considered, at the earliest, a Christmas 2012 release.
However, reports continued to circulate once Abrams took the helm that the film would indeed be pushed to 2013, with Paramount wanting to once again push it to an early summer release. They had done the same with Abrams' first attempt at Star Trek, first setting it to premiere in Christmas 2008, but instead moving it to May 2009. "Star Trek" would go on to earn $257.7 million domestically and nearly $400 million worldwide -- topping all 11 previous films.
Now that audiences have had a chance to meet the new Kirk and Spock, and with about a four-year wait, there is a chance Star Trek could pull a "Dark Knight" and grab an even larger box office take, especially if Benicio del Toro signs on as previously reported.
But Paramount is not just hanging its hat on Star Trek. The success of "Paranormal Activity 3" means that Paramount is going to jump on a fourth film as quickly as possible. "Paranormal Activity 3" has earned $95 million at the box office, despite the fact it's only been out for a few weeks. With a budget of just $5 million, that means the film has already made $19 for every dollar invested, a tremendous return.
The studio also is not giving up on Transformers, even though both its director and star of the first three films feel it's time to move on. The most recent installment earned $352.4 million domestically, second only to "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2." Despite its high production budget and poor reviews, Transformers continues to be a large box office draw, and Paramount is keen to remaining tapped into it.
This year, Paramount has topped the box office with $1.6 billion in ticket receipts, according to The Numbers. It's just slightly ahead of the $1.5 billion earned by Harry Potter's Warner Bros. Studios. However, Warner Bros. has released more films than Paramount -- 11 more to be exact -- meaning Warner Bros. is averaging $50.8 million per movie, while Paramount is averaging a whopping $85.3 million per film.
Viacom also said it was considering a new live-action version of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, falling under its Nickelodeon brand, since the characters were going to return to the kids network in 2012 as a new cartoon. It's not clear if Vanilla Ice would be available for a cameo or not.
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