Looking again at the profits of ‘Star Trek’ movies

April 8, 2015

By Matthew E. Milliken
April 8, 2015

On Tuesday, in my discussion of Star Trek: First Contact, I mentioned a number of parallels between that film and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. Among other things, I wrote this:

These films are also the most popular and successful ones starring their respective casts. The Voyage Home, a 1986 release, grossed nearly $110 million. First Contact, which came out almost exactly 10 years later, grossed $92 million. The only Trek films that made more money were the J.J. Abrams–helmed reboots from 2009 and 2012, which populated the roles of Kirk, Spock and company with a brand-new cast.

I have a confession to make: These numbers are…fishy. Specifically, the numbers cited in yesterday’s blog post weren’t adjusted for inflation. (They came from Box Office Mojo, by the way.)

The website 1701News.com calculated last year that Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan was the most profitable Trek film of all time, with STIII: The Search for Spock and STIV: The Voyage Home ranking either second or third. (They switch places depending on whether the calculation is based on domestic or worldwide revenue.)

1701News doesn’t break down its numbers, but it says that its figures are all adjusted for inflation, meaning that the buying power of a dollar in profits from 1979’s Star Trek: The Motion Picture should be equal (or roughly so) to the buying power of a dollar in profits from 2013’s Star Trek Into Darkness.

Generations and First Contact are the most-profitable Next Generation movies, in that order — trailing every original cast movie except for Star Trek V: The Final Frontier and (if only domestic sales are counted) Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.

STV is the least profitable original cast movie, but domestically, it made more money than both of the J.J. Abrams reboots from 2009 and 2013 as well as Star Trek: Insurrection and Star Trek: Nemesis, the final two TNG movies. (Worldwide, the 2009 film outlearned The Final Frontier.)

No matter which list you look at, Nemesis (2002) comes in dead last. Its domestic take of $56 million represented a loss of more than a quarter of the film’s budget, per 1701News. Internationally, the movie’s haul of $87.5 million made for a modest profit margin — 12 percent.

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