The highly anticipated opening for Disney’s fourquel Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides didn’t go off with the cannonballs the industry was expecting, but the Rob Marshall film starring Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz, Geoffrey Rush and Ian McShane certainly harnessed some wind in the vibrant summer season, taking in $90.1 million at 4,155 piers.
Box office analysts had been proclaiming for weeks that Pirates 4 would be the first $100-million opener of the year. But making such predictions weeks in advance is hazardous. Marketing data becomes increasingly reliable only days, if not hours, prior to a film’s opening and when execs are looking at survey figures that fly off their charts, it becomes harder to pinpoint a $90-million three-day from a $150-million three-day.
In the world of perception, a Wednesday opening might have made a difference. Had Disney unspooled Pirates 4 over five-days, they could be writing press releases heralding a $100 million-plus opening. They implemented a wise distribution maneuver with the last Pirates pic, At World’s End, opening on late Thursday evening prior to Memorial Day weekend, which bolstered pre-Midnight screenings to $14 million at 3,100 sites and total four-half day holiday gross of $153 million. It will be interesting to see if Pirates 4 crosses $100 million on Tuesday.
Sure, the bow of Pirates 4 might be third-best of the franchise, following part two’s $135.6 million in 2006 and part three’s Friday-Sunday $114.7 million haul over the 2007 Memorial Day weekend. However neither Disney nor exhibitors are griping about Pirates 4: A bow like this is excellent in this year’s relaxed B.O. economy and indicates that summer is shaping up well at the B.O.
Pirates 4, which cost $420 million in combined production and global marketing expenses (including a lavish Cannes debut) drew a B+ Cinemascore, which is lower than the A- Cinemascore earned by the last two installments. While audiences remain upbeat on Pirates, critics have grown increasingly cynical. They loved the first one in 2003 at 78% fresh, followed by 54% rotten with Dead Man’s Chest, 45% rotten with At World’s End to finally a current 34% with Stranger Tides--the franchise’s lowest Tomatometer score yet.
Pirate 4 drew 54% male to 46% female with older 26+ folks dominating at 54%. 3-D receipts at 2,747 locales are still being crunched by Disney.
In all, the opening for Pirates 4 is a boom for producer Jerry Bruckheimer who showed signs of going gray last summer with such pricey Disney blunders as Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time ($90.8 million) andThe Sorcerer’s Apprentice ($63.2 million). There were few Pirates 4 marketing stunts that really took any breath away; the brand pretty much sold itself with advance trailers and casting news on cinephile sites. Penelope Cruz was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in front of Disney’s El Capitan theater on April 1. Disney sold $1,000 tickets to the Disneyland world premiere of Pirates 4 to benefit the Boys and Girls Clubs of America.
Even though Pirates 4 didn’t face any competition, there was a halo effect with three other films grossing in excess of $10 million. Bridesmaids buzz looks sexy with a second weekend decline of 20%, besting the comedy sophomore dips of The Hangover (-27%) and Wedding Crashers (-24%). Sony Pictures Classics took Woody Allen’s Cannes fav Midnight in Paris out at six sites grossing a boffo $578,805 with a screen average of $96,468. That’s the best screen average for an under top-10 release since last March, outstripping the $88,863 per site grossed by The King’s Speech which made $355,450 at four venues.
1. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides $90.1 million at 4,155 theater. $21,685 theater average. Domestic total: $90.1 million.
2. Bridesmaids (Universal) $21.1 million down 20% in its second weekend at 2,937 theaters. $7,170 theater average. Domestic total: $59.5 million.
3. Thor (Paramount/Marvel) $15.5 million down 55% in its third weekend at 3,924 theaters. $3,950 theater average. Domestic total: $145.4 million.
4. Fast Five (Universal) $10.6 million down 48% in its fourth weekend at 3,622 theaters. $2,935 theater average. Domestic total: $186.2 million.
5. Rio(Fox) $4.65 million down 44% in its sixth weekend at 2,593 theaters. $1,793 theater average. Domestic total: $131.6 million.
6. Priest (Sony/Screen Gems) $4.6 million down 69% in its second weekend at 2,864 theaters. $1,606 theater average. Domestic total: $23.7 million.
7. Jumping the Broom (Sony/TriStar) $3.7 million down 47% in its third weekend at 1,472 theaters. $2,514 theater average. Domestic total: $31.3 million.
8. Something Borrowed (Warner Bros.) $3.425 million down 50% in its third weekend at 2,606 theaters. $1,314 theater average. Domestic total: $31.4 million.
9. Water for Elephants (Fox) $2.15 million down 49% in its fifth weekend at 1,894 theaters. $1,135 theater average. Domestic total: $52.4 million.
10. Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Big Happy Family (Lionsgate) $990K down 55% in its fifth weekend at 912 theaters. $1,084 theater average. Domestic total: $51.8 million.