This weekend, Disney pooled their resources with Jerry Bruckheimer and produced an insta-blockbuster. Apathy is the name of the game with “Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides,” which scored the biggest bow of 2011 despite being a piece of shit that grossed lower in its opening frame than its two predecessors. “Dead Man’s Chest” and “At Worlds End” both cracked $100 million in their first domestic weekend, but even with the elevated 3D pricing, “Pirates 4” couldn’t cross nine digits.
Which is irrelevant, of course. Because, as much as Hollywood wants to claim they are bleeding from record attendance drops, the international market has never been more viable. The “Pirates” pictures are wildly more successful overseas than they are in America, and even if the domestic gross doesn’t match the reported $250 million price tag (a fifth of which goes to Johnny Depp - yes, really), they needn’t worry about Peoria, because, for once, “big in Japan” actually means something.
The question is, does “Pirates 4” perform from here on out like the typical huge blockbuster that no one really likes? If it shows the type of legs popularized by that preferred subgenre (60% drops each weekend), and takes a hit from next weekend’s “The Hangover Part II” (which some say could gross $100 million over the Memorial Day weekend) then “Pirates” won’t sniff the domestic numbers of any of the “Pirates” films thus far.
But who cares? With the film registering the biggest five-day international haul in history (which is impressive, though the day-and-date release model is still a relatively new innovation), the picture is due to appeal to all sorts of undemanding audiences overseas. Even with a ridiculous budget, “Pirates” should be profitable provided it passes $500 million internationally which, given that the last two were well over $600 million in overseas regions, should be a given. “Pirates 5” is a sure thing, in other words, as is “The Lone Ranger,” and possibly the “Thin Man” remake with “Pirates 4” director Rob Marshall, who himself will continue to get material he doesn‘t deserve. Hey, remember when Johnny Depp made movies that weren’t a piece of shit?
The big news worth celebrating this weekend was the muscular hold for “Bridesmaids.” The lady-centric comedy performed spectacularly in its second frame, losing less than 20% of its audience, landing at just a tad under $60 million in ten days of release. It definitely looks like it’s connected with the Apatow audience that drove similar male-centric fare to $100 million. After that opening, nine figures seemed uncertain, but now, it looks highly likely, though “The Hangover” will surely take a huge chunk of that audience. Considering most were predicting “Bridesmaids” would tap out at $40 million, this might end up being one of the summer’s most surprising, and profitable, hits.
“Thor” lost some of the wind in its sails in its third weekend, lapped by “Bridesmaids” as it dropped over 50%. But the picture has already surpassed Marvel’s underperforming “Incredible Hulk” and looks like it should crest $400 million globally by this weekend. It doesn’t look likely to match the gross for “Fast Five,” the latter with just enough left in its tank to hit $200 million, which may even happen next weekend, considering the two blockbusters (“Hangover” and “Kung-Fu Panda 2”) skew to either adult or child audiences, leaving the teen and older-family audience shut out of “Pirates” to catch these two pictures. Or, you know, go outside and enjoy the weather. Maybe socialize.
Pretty quiet with the rest of the box office, allowing “Rio” to remain in the top five even though, with $450 million global in the tin, it’s clearly just playing out the string. “Priest” took a nearly-70% tumble, and could finish under $30 million, while “Jumping The Broom” and “Something Borrowed” remain locked in mortal combat, both at a $31 million total. “Broom” is the bigger success, with a lower budget and a higher per-screen average from many less engagements than “Borrowed,” but we’ll have a feeling Hollywood will keep casting “Borrowed” star Kate Hudson over “Broom” leading lady Paula Patton. Just a hunch.
Indie theaters saw a monstrous debut from Woody Allen’s “Midnight In Paris.” With only a six screen debut, “Paris” cracked the top twelve, collecting $529k with a per-screen average of $96k. By comparison, “Pirates Of The Caribbean” averaged $21k per-screen. Of course, as is with many expansions, can “Paris” continue to fill houses as it expands? The last major indie debut in this ballpark was “Precious: Based On The Novel Push By Sapphire” which scored $104k per-engagement, but never blossomed into a major performer, topping out at $47 million. The last Allen picture to gross over $40 million domestically, for the record, was “Hannah And Her Sisters” about a quarter of a century ago. We are getting older. And apparently not watching newer Woody Allen movies.
Other indie releases were not so fortunate. A highlight was Werner Herzog’s “Cave Of Forgotten Dreams,” which expanded onto 107 screens and grabbed $439k, for a four week total of just slightly under $2 million. The only other debut on the market to register was “35 And Ticking,” a romantic comedy that grabbed $30k on six screens. Support your local arthouse theater, boys and girls.
1. Pirates Of The Caribbean: Discount Edition (Disney) - $90.1 million
2. Bridesmaids (Universal) - $21 million ($59 mil.)
3. Thorgasm (Paramount) - $15.5 million ($145 mil.)
4. Movie Five Fast Car Vroom (Universal) - $10.6 million ($186 mil.)
5. Rio (Fox) - $4.7 million ($142 mil.)
6. Priest (Sony/Screen Gems) - $4.6 million ($24 mil.)
7. Jumping The Broom (Sony/TriStar) - $3.7 million ($31 mil.)
8. Something Borrowed (Warner Bros.) - $3.4 million ($31 mil.)
9. Snapple For Elephants (Fox) - $2.1 million ($52 mil.)
10. Tyler Perry Presents A Tyler Perry Movie Does It Matter What it’s Called It’s A Tyler Perry Movie (Lionsgate) - $990k ($52 mil.)