STAR TREK GOES WHERE NO STAR TREK HAS GONE BEFORE

Guaranteeing that the franchise would live much longer, Star Trek prospered at the box office over the weekend, earning an estimated $76.5 million, including $4 million from previews Thursday on a limited number of screens. While the figure surpassed studio predictions that it would earn about $50 million, it fell short of those from the most bullish forecasters, who had envisioned earnings as high as $100 million. Nevertheless, it far surpassed the previous high for a Star Trek movie, 1996's First Contact, which opened with $30.7 million, or about $50 million at today's ticket prices. (The film went on to earn nearly $100 million.) The movie helped boost the overall box office to about $148 million, a record for the second week of May and up 18 percent over the same weekend a year ago. It also put the box office back on a winning track, after last weekend's fare came in just below that of a year ago. Meanwhile, last weekend's top film, X-Men Origins: Wolverine took a big hit from the new movie, falling 68 percent to about $27 million. The sharp decline once again raised questions about the studios' strategy of releasing big-budget tentpole movies on successive weekends in the early summer season. It also raised questions about how long young moviegoers will be able to afford to go to the movies weekend after weekend. Last week's second-place film, Ghosts of Girlfriends Past was down 32 percent to $10.5 million and third-placed Obsesssed was down 45 percent to $6.6 million. Each fell one notch in the standings this past weekend. Coming in at No. 6. was Next Day Air, the only other new film to open wide, with just $4 million.

The top ten films for the weekend, according to studio estimates compiled by Box Office Mojo:

1. Star Trek, $72.5 million; 2. X-Men Origins: Wolverine, $27 million; 3. Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, $10.45 million; 4. Obsessed, $6.6 million; 5. 17 Again, $4.4 million; 6. Next Day Air, $4 million; 7. The Soloist, $3.6 million; 8. Monsters vs. Aliens, $3.4 million; 9. Earth, $2.5 million; 10. Hannah Montana: The Movie, $2.4 million.

STAR TREK RETURNS TO TV: ON SNL

In an apparent effort to win back aging Star Trek fans who may have been offended by the current marketing campaign for the movie ("This is not your father's Star Trek") Paramount included Leonard Nimoy among the cast members who appeared on a Saturday Night Live "Weekend Update" over the weekend. "I've spent many years of my life among Trekkies -- er, Trekkers," Nimoy said to Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto who play Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock in the new film. For them not to like the new film, he said, "would make them dickheads." But Pine said that he had been receiving angry calls in the middle of the night. "At least I think they're angry. I can't understand them. They're either speaking Vulcan or Hebrew."

STAR TREK BEAMS UP PROFITS OVERSEAS, TOO

Star Trek led the overseas box office with what Daily Variety described as "a solid rather than spectacular" take of $35.5 million in 54 countries. X-Men Origins: Wolverine held up better abroad than it did domestically, falling 59 percent to $29.7 million. It has now grossed $123.7 million overseas. Meanwhile, 20th Century Fox said that it would hold its delayed red-carpet screening of Wolverine in Mexico City on May 26 with Hugh Jackman scheduled to appear. A previously scheduled world premiere of the movie in the Mexican capital had been postponed because of the scare over swine flu. The country's theaters reopened last Thursday but with health-department-ordered restrictions -- including one measure that requires theater managers to keep patrons at least seven feet apart in all directions.

VENICE TO HONOR PIXAR

Yet another leading European film festival is set to honor the geniuses behind Disney-Pixar's computer-animated movies. The Venice Film Festival said over the weekend that the newly created 3D versions of Toy Story and Toy Story 2 would be screened first at the 66th annual Venice Film Festival in September. The studio's Up is due to open the Cannes Film Festival this week. The Venice organizers said that the festival will present a lifetime achievement award to John Lasseter and the Pixar directors. The festival said that for the "first time in the history of the Venice Film Festival, the award will honor not only the achievement of a single filmmaker but also the contribution of the directors of a visionary studio."