Box-Office Smackdown: If "Angels & Demons" is No. 1, How Come "Star Trek" is the Real Winner?

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Crazy question? Not really. Ron Howard's megabudget Angels & Demons did indeed take in $48 million on its opening weekend, enough to just squeeze ahead of Star Trek in its second week. But read between the lines and you don't quite come up with a success story. That $48 million gross for the sequel to The Da Vinci Code, once again starring Tom Hanks as Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon, is substantially below the $77 million that Da Vinci took in on its debut weekend in 2006. Dan Brown's Angels & Demons was a definite bestseller, but it only sold half the 80 million copies of Brown's Da Vinci Code. Worse, it barely stirred up an iota of controversy. Da Vinci posits that Jesus was married with children, making Angels' claim of anti-scientific bias in the Catholic Church seem like small potatoes. Ironically, the faster-paced film version of Angels received marginally better reviews than the slogging chunk of anti-cinema that was The Da Vinci Code on screen. But if money talks in Hollywood, it's writing a dimmer box-office future for Angels & Demons.

On the other hand, look at Star Trek, which is defying the odds that blockbusters open big and sink like a stone in the followup weekend. Hello-goodbye, Wolverine. And yet here's the critically acclaimed reboot of Star Trek taking in a huge $43 million the second time around and damn near crushing Angels in its opening assault. That's power, baby, word-of-mouth power. Audiences are liking Star Trek, talking about it, and telling their friends to see it. You can't buy that kind of clout. In just two weeks, Star Trek already has $148 million in the till and may rival the juggernauts of Transformers 2 and Harry Potter 6 as the summer's hottest ticket just by letting slow and steady win the race. Which brings me to a question I've been hearing lots of folks arguing about. Who is the Most Valuable Player in the new Trek universe? Is It Chris Pine's Kirk, Zachary Quinto's Spock or another member of the crew? I want answers. Are you voting Kirk or Spock?