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Weekend Estimates: Pirates More Errr Than Arrr

May 22nd, 2011

While a $90 million opening is nothing to sniff at, and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides will most likely become, briefly, 2011's top-grossing movie, the film's performance puts Disney in an interesting position. On the one hand, its international performance so far has been impressive, and there's a good chance it will end with $700 million or so outside North America. That alone will make it a highly-profitable movie. But domestically it will most likely top out around $250 million, which won't take much of a chunk out of its estimated $250 million production budget, and home video sales are unlikely to come anywhere near the kind of numbers posted by previous movies in the franchise. So from a purely domestic perspective, it would be tempting to scale back or retire the franchise. But the international demand clearly suggests it has some life yet.

So, while it seems likely there will be another installment, the question for Disney will be how hard to push it in North America. Opening in 4,000+ theaters and spending $50 million or more on marketing doesn't make a lot of sense for a film that's unlikely to top $200 million (assuming current trends continue). But scaling back would seem to carry too big a risk of diminishing the brand. It will be a difficult decision for the studio, which is looking short on franchises (outside of Pixar) until it can start releasing new Marvel titles.

Elsewhere this weekend, Bridesmaids enjoyed an excellent second weekend with a drop of only 20%, according to Universal, taking it to an estimated $21.1 million for the weekend and a total of $59.5 million after two. The other big winner was Midnight in Paris, which posted a gangbusters $578,805 opening in just six theaters for the kind of per-theater average that only comes along every couple of years (Precious providing the most recent example).

Overall, the market looks as though it will be up about 10% over last year, which is the fifth weekend out of six where box office has been up year-on-year. While that still leaves 2011 with a lot to do, the gap with 2010 is slowly closing.

- 3-Day Weekend Estimates
- Friday Daily Estimates
- Saturday Daily Estimates
- Sunday Daily Projections

Filed under: Weekend Box Office, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Bridesmaids, Midnight in Paris