“Pirates” Poised to Sink Spidey
Yo-ho-ho and a box-office run.
Seafaring sequel Pirates of the Caribbean 2: Dead Man’s Chest is in position to potentially surpass Spider-Man’s record for the best weekend opening ever, according to industry predictions.
The arachnid feature has held the record since May 2002, when it snared $114.8 million in its opening weekend. But with Dead Man’s Chest unspooling in 4,133 theaters this weekend, Spidey’s time may have come.
That theater number is third-most in Hollywood history, per Exhibitor Relations, behind only Shrek 2 (4,163 theaters) and Spider-Man 2 (4,133 sites), both of which were released in 2004.
Brandon Gray, of BoxOfficeMojo.com, predicts Dead Man’s Chest will approach $117 million. Citing internal tracking numbers at Disney, Daily Variety reports that 50 percent of those surveyed said they want to see the sequel this weekend.
According to online ticket retailer Fandango, the Johnny Depp blockbuster had already set a new record for tickets sold the day before an opening. The company reported that tickets to the swashbuckling flick were selling at an average rate of seven per second and represented 91 percent of all its sales on Thursday. At the very least, reports fellow online retailer MovieTickets.com, the scalawags are on track to commandeer the biggest opening of the year.
Say it with us now, mateys: Arrrrrrrrr.
In addition to Depp, Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom also reprise their original roles in the film, which opens at the wedding of their characters, Elizabeth Swann and Will Turner, a day that is ruined when they are arrested for aiding in the escape of Captain Jack Sparrow.
Despite the huge hype, there is a potential bugaboo for the buccaneers: movie critics.
Reviews of the film, which comes in at a hefty two-and-half hours, have been mixed. The New York Times called it “a glistening, sushi-grade chunk of franchise entertainment,” while the Chicago Tribune deemed it a “satisfying big-screen excuse for overpriced popcorn. The Washington Post dubbed it “an empty-calorie clone” of the first film, while the Boston Globe branded it “high-calorie summer spectacle.” (Sidenote: somebody, please feed the movie critics.)
As of Friday, the reviews were close to evenly split between positive and negative, according to RottenTomatoes.com.
Perhaps the mixed notices have caused some pundits to dial back their expectations. The Hollywood Reporter, for instance, says, “it might be a bit of stretch for it to reach Spider-Man’s record.”
Disney isn’t playing prognosticator. The company declined to comment on whether the film will challenge the record. But those inside the Magic Kingdom are obviously hoping to rake in the doubloons.
When the original Pirates film was released by Disney in 2003, it was a surprise hit, pillaging moviegoers’ pockets of more than $650 million in worldwide booty, as word spread quickly that a movie based on an iconic theme park ride made for good entertainment.
Based on the first-week ticket sales alone of Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Disney went full sail ahead on putting two sequels into production, plunking down a grand total of $350 million on Dead Man’s Chest and the third film in the franchise, At the End of the World, which is slated to be released over Memorial Day weekend next year.
If Dead Man’s Chest proves a sustained hit, audiences will be eager for the release of At the End of the World, and Disney’s gamble will have paid off. On the other hand, should the buzz around Dead Man’s Chest die out, the studio may find itself walking the plank when it comes to recouping its expenses for the pricey films.
We’ll just have to wait until Sunday, me hearties, to find out if indeed the pirate’s life is for Disney.
“Pirates” Poised to Sink Spidey