BOX OFFICE: Pirates On Stranger Tides Wins, Bridesmaids Still Fit To Be Wed

“Yo Ho, Yo Ho! A pirates life for me.” That may be Captain Jack Sparrow’s mantra about the life he lives, but in the case of Johnny Depp, his mantra should be “Alma Mater,” the theme of The Mickey Mouse Club. The reason is simple. Depp has had his most success due to starring in films distributed by Walt Disney Pictures. Of the four movies he’s headlined, their opening weekend average is $114.25 million. His latest, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, was easy to predict as a first-place finisher. With an estimated $90.1 million at 4,155 locations (including 3D presentations at 2,747 locations), this third sequel in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise did just enough to edge out Fast Five‘s $86.2 million opening in late April.

Ninety million might sound like a great pirate’s booty, but its predecessor, At World’s End, earned $114.7 million for its first weekend in May 2007. And the second in the series, Dead Man’s Chest, had a then-record $135.6 million in July 2006. Are you sensing a trend here? The opening for Dead Man’s Chest was understandable. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl established the franchise so it had the weakest opening in series. But because it was such a hit in theaters (it opened on July 11th and closed in late December) and on video (where it made millions in sales and rentals), of course viewers would be opining for a sequel that wouldn’t arrive for another three years.

The sequels were all about making the spectacle bigger and that much more elaborate, while little attention was paid to script and story. Because of mixed reactions to the sequels and a lack of interest it’s easy to see why On Stranger Tides was destined to debut with a lower total. And if you read Kubryk’s review this weekend, where he called it a “perfunctory sequel,” then you get the gist. Still, CinemaScore surveyed the audience and delivered a grade of B+.

Overseas the audience were more than happy to board the ship and enjoy On Stranger Tides. It shattered the box office record for a first-weekend gross with an impressive $256 million. Combined with domestic totals and the swashbuckler has already grossed $346 million. That’s a good start, but remember – the film has a projected cost of $250 million with another $170 million allocated to advertising.

First runner-up for the second consecutive week, Bridesmaids, managed to hold its ground and keep most of its audience in the process. Losing only 20% of the audience, the comedy was able to add another $21.1 million to its totals. It may not have had the $45 million opening that The Hangover did, but $60 million after two weeks for a comedy that was totally bungled, er, mismarketed by Universal is a good sign that comedies may be the genre to watch this summer. Besides the upcoming release of The Hangover Part II, we also have Friends with Benefits, Horrible Bosses, Bad Teacher, Crazy, Stupid, Love, 30 Minutes or Less, and The Change-Up being pushed as spoilers to summer tentpoles involving comic book heroes, wizards, cowboys and aliens, and robots in disguise.

Finishing third, the movie that kicked off the summer season (officially), Thor, took in an estimated $15.5 million. Domestically, the Marvel Studios release has made $145.4 million in 17 days. Foreign grosses are a little more impressive with $237 million.

Fast Five, the movie that kicked off the summer season (unofficially), is one of the few films that can already state that it is making money for its studio. Budgeted around $125 million, and say another $100 million for advertising, Universal has already started to see a return in its investment. The fourth sequel in the Fast and Furious franchise may have only made $186.2 million in 24 days of release domestically, internationally it has grossed over $320 million. At $506 million worldwide, it currently stands as the highest-grossing movie released thus far. Fox’s Rio is second with $439 million.

This weekend Priest was read its last rites as its audience shrunk considerably with 69 percent bolting in favor of Pirates of the Caribbean. The 3D showings didn’t do much to improve its cause as it has only grossed $23.7 million in ten days. Rio continues to stick around as the only family feature in major release that parents can take their kids to. It’s made $131.6 million since its April release.

Jumping the Broom and Something Borrowed continue to fight it out for rom-com dominance. Early estimates have Broom getting both legs ups and jumping over Borrowed, which was predicted to finish above it. As it is now, Something Borrowed has outgrossed Jumping the Broom by $100k since their debuts on May 6th. Though, Broom is the clear winner in terms of cost versus earnings, since it cost less than $7 million to produce.

Rounding out the top ten for the weekend is Water for Elephants which has made $52.5 million since its bow in late April, and Tyler Perry’s latest outing in drag as Madea. Say your goodbyes now, because they’ll be gone from the list this time next weekend.

Turning our attention to new titles opening on less than a thousand screens this weekend we had Image Entertainment’s 35 and Ticking starring Megan Good. Opening in six locations, the comedy earned $35k. More impressive was Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris. Also opening in six locations, it took in an estimated $579k, and gave it not only the best per-location average for the entire weekend, but the best per-location average for the entire year.

1. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides – $90.1 million ($346 million worldwide)
2. Bridesmaids – $21.1 million ($59.5 million overall)
3. Thor – $15.5 million ($383 million worldwide)
4. Fast Five – $10.6 million ($506 million worldwide)
5. Rio – $4.65 million ($439 million worldwide)
6. Priest – $4.6 million ($23.7 million overall)
7. Jumping The Broom – $3.7 million ($31.3 million overall)
8. Something Borrowed – $3.4 million ($31.4 million overall)
9. Water For Elephants – $2.2 million ($52.5 million overall)
10. Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Big Happy Family – $990k ($51.8 million overall)

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