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Weekend Estimates: Time for Pirates to Sail into the Sunset?

May 28th, 2017

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales is dominating proceedings at the box office this weekend, with Disney projecting an opening of $62.2 million for three days, and $76.6 million over the complete Memorial Day holiday weekend. As I’ve said a few times this year, any other studio would kill for numbers like those, but this marks the third straight decline in the franchise’s fortunes. Dead Man’s Chest had the best opening for any Pirates film, with $135.6 million in 2006; At World’s End did $114.7 million over Memorial Day weekend in 2007; and then On Stranger Tides delivered a $90.2-million debut, also over Memorial Day weekend in 2011. With this kind of start, Dead Men will struggle to deliver $200 million domestically, although its international performance will help make up the numbers.

Disney is estimating it will pick up $208.4 million internationally this weekend, for a global opening of $270.6 million. That’s helped mightily by $67.8 million from China, which is Disney’s third-best three-day opening in that market. Its performance in Russia is even more impressive, with a debut of $18.1 million over three days, and $18.6 million including previews, giving it the all-time opening weekend record in the country. Other markets look a bit softer though, with $11.6 million in Korea, $9.3 million in France, $8.4m in Germany, $6.9m in Mexico, $6.3m in the UK (where Disney cite the recent terror attack as a dampening force), $5.6m in Brazil, $5.5m in Italy, $4.4m in Australia, $4.4m in Spain, $4.0m in Indonesia, $3.6m in Taiwan, and $3.0m in in India and Argentina.

Putting all those numbers into perspective, At World’s End opened with $344 million worldwide—equivalent to a little over $500 million in today’s money—and On Stranger Tides started with $350 million globally, or about $420 million today. So missing $300 million in its global rollout is a blow for Dead Men. Assuming similar multipliers (At World’s End earned 2.8x its opening, On Stranger Tides earned 3.0x), the new installment should end up with between $750 million and $810 million worldwide. With a $230 million production budget, and perhaps $200 million in marketing costs, that will leave it at around the breakeven point when it completes its run at the box office (assuming theaters keep close to 50% of the box office). Studio overheads will add another $80 million or so to costs, and those will be recouped from home video sales, but that leaves the film barely profitable. With so much other treasure in its coffers, Disney might not see a lot of upside in making a sixth installment in the franchise, at least not at a $200-million-plus production budget.

The same cannot be said of The Fast and the Furious franchise. The Fate of the Furious cruises past $1 billion internationally this weekend, making this the only franchise to have produced two films that earned over $1 billion overseas. It also makes Universal the only studio have three films in the billion-dollar club internationally. Speaking of a billion dollars, Disney became the first studio to reach $1 billion at the domestic box office in 2017 this weekend. This is the second-fastest they (or any other studio) have reached the mark, a little behind their performance last year. Oh, and Beauty and the Beast will pass $500 million at the domestic box office today, which makes it the eighth film to reach that milestone.

No such milestones await Baywatch, which is limping out the gate with $18.1 million, for a third-place weekend finish. The comedy is earning poor reviews, and looks as though it will fail to catch the Summer wave at the box office, at least domestically. It might earn some redemption in international markets, although it won’t be opening overseas in earnest until next weekend.

Although the long weekend means we don’t have as many announced numbers as usual, a couple of limited releases, both from Abramorama, are performing strongly. Long Strange Trip: The Untold Story of the Grateful Dead is headed for a projected $34,131 from two theaters, after picking up over $260,000 from special event screenings on Thursday. Restless Creature: Wendy Whelan will earn a projected $21,127 from two theaters.

- Weekend estimates

- All-time highest-grossing films worldwide
- Pirates of the Caribbean box office history
- Marvel Cinematic Universe box office history

- Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales comparison chart
- Baywatch comparison chart
- Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 comparison chart
- Alien: Covenant comparison chart
- Everything, Everything comparison chart
- Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul comparison chart

Filed under: Weekend Box Office, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, Beauty and the Beast, The Fate of the Furious, Baywatch, Restless Creature: Wendy Whelan, Long Strange Trip: The Untold Story of the Grateful Dead, Fast and the Furious, Pirates of the Caribbean, Marvel Cinematic Universe