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'Star Trek Beyond' triumphs at the box office. Will the franchise succeed, too?

The new 'Star Trek' movie opened in first place at the box office this past weekend. Is the debut seen as successful enough to continue the franchise?

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    'Star Trek Beyond' stars Zoe Saldana (l.) and John Cho (r.).
    Kimberly French/Paramount Pictures/AP
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As the characters in the “Star Trek” movie series continue to explore strange new worlds and seek out new life and new civilizations, moviegoers turned out this past weekend to see their latest adventure, helping the new film “Star Trek Beyond” debut at No. 1 at the box office. 

“Beyond” grossed more than $59 million at the domestic box office, while the animated hit “The Secret Life of Pets” came in second, bringing in more than $29 million. “Pets” opened earlier this month.

Meanwhile, the new horror movie “Lights Out” and the comedy “Ghostbusters,” which opened last week, reportedly tied for third place, both grossing $21.6 million. 

The new animated film “Ice Age: Collision Course,” the newest in the franchise, placed fourth, grossing $21 million, while the Pixar animated film “Finding Dory,” which opened in June, came in fifth, taking in more than $7 million.

Industry observers note that “Beyond” had a lower opening weekend than the original “Star Trek” starring actors such as Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, and Zoe Saldana, which debuted in 2009, as well as the second movie in the current series, 2013’s “Star Trek Into Darkness.” The opening weekend for "Star Trek Beyond" is still seen as a positive development, however. 

"This is a solid enough debut to tell them there's still enough interest in 'Star Trek' to keep this franchise alive," Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for box-office tracker comScore, told the Associated Press.

And most critics say the franchise is still doing very well creatively. “Beyond” has received mostly positive reviews, with Monitor film critic Peter Rainer giving the movie a B+ (a better grade than “Beyond” predecessor “Darkness”). 

"The consistently entertaining ‘Star Trek Beyond’ … gives a good name to franchise fodder," Mr. Rainer writes. "Part of the reason for that is the way it works humor, often wry, into the slam-bang proceedings.... The actors work so well together that they reinforce the series’ central appeal: This crew is like family. A newcomer – Jaylah (Sofia Boutella) ... would be a welcome addition for future installments. And I do hope there will be many more future installments. I’d like to spend more time with these folks."

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