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'Star Trek Into Darkness' wings in at No. 1 but not at warp speed

"Star Trek Into Darkness" opened atop the U.S. box office, though its debut didn't quite make the jump to warp speed that Paramount Pictures executives expected.

"Into Darkness," the second J.J. Abrams-directed installment in the long-running science-fiction franchise, took in $70.55 million over the weekend, according to studio estimates, bringing its total take to $84 million. The movie launched Wednesday in 336 IMAX locations before opening wide Thursday.

The overall total, while healthy, was $16 million less than what Paramount, which co-financed the film with Skydance Productions, had forecast. The movie did receive a nice bump Saturday, indicating that audience word-of-mouth is strong. Moviegoers — 16% of whom saw the movie in the IMAX format since opening — assigned the picture an average grade of A, according to market research firm CinemaScore.

PHOTOS: ‘Star Trek Into Darkness’ premiere

The "Star Trek" movie was the weekend's only major studio release. Of the holdovers, "Iron Man 3," which led the box office the past two weeks, came in second, with $35.1 million, bringing its total to $337 million. "The Great Gatsby" enjoyed a decent, second-weekend hold, dropping 54% for a $23.4 million weekend. Baz Luhrmann's eye-popping take on F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic novel has now grossed $90.1 million.

Overall, the weekend came in around $150 million, up 10% from last year when "Battleship" was the big studio bow. With high-profile sequels "Fast & Furious 6" and "The Hangover Part III" arriving next week, forecasters believe the upturn will continue.

ALSO:

J.J. Abrams on "Star Trek Into Darkness": Spectacle is irrelevant

"Star Trek Into Darkness" prospers at box office on Thursday bow

Review: "Star Trek Into Darkness" ramps up action, leaves room for heart

Follow @GlennWhipp

glenn.whipp@latimes.com

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