USA Today -- Star Trek Into Darkness set its box office phasers on stun, but managed only a glancing blow at theaters.
The sequel to the 2009 film did $70.6 million, according to studio estimates from Hollywood.com.
The J.J. Abrams film, which opened Thursday, has taken in $84 million in four days.
While the debut marked a decisive win at theaters, the opening fell short of forecasts, which projected a weekend haul of $90 million to $100 million. And despite solid reviews, the film opened slightly below 2009's reboot, which bowed to $75 million.
While the film, starring Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto, likely has plenty of momentum to recoup its $190 million budget, "it appears that four years of anticipation and help from 3-D ticket prices isn't really giving Into Darkness much of a boost," says Ray Subers of Box Office Mojo.
Subers says that the opening "would normally be cause for panic, though it's possible that most audiences just weren't aware that the movie was opening on Thursday," an 11th-hour change by Paramount Studios.
In Darkness' corner: strong word of mouth. The film is one of the best-reviewed of 2013, earning a thumbs-up from 87% of the nation's critics, says pollsters Rottentomatoes.com.
And fans are beaming aboard. An impressive 89% of moviegoers said they liked the movie, Rottentomatoes.com says, while Darkness earned an "A" from survey site CinemaScore.
But analysts say the debut could signal a quick exit from theaters.
"Suddenly, there is now a good deal to worry about," says Tim Briody, analyst for Boxofficeprophets.com.
Briody notes that 2009's Star Trek earned $31 million on its opening Friday, compared to $22 million for Darkness.
"This is a problem," he says. "In this era where it simply makes sense for an A-list sequel to open higher than the previous entry, where two weeks ago Iron Man 3improved nearly $50 million from Iron Man 2, we have the first high-profile tentpole to fall flat."
Still, no film came close to Darkness. Iron Man 3 took second place with $35.2 million, followed by The Great Gatsby with $23.4 million.
Michael Bay's Pain & Gain continues to linger in the top five, taking fourth place with $3.1 million, while the animated comedy The Croods did $2.8 million.