Delivering the biggest opening weekend of 2011, "Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" opened to an estimated $90.1 million in total receipts, easily winning the box office weekend. While $90.1 million is never a number to discount or place in ill regard, reports declared this opening as "soft" or "underwhelming". Comparatively speaking with the previous "Pirates" films, this was the lowest grossing and lowest attended opening weekend for the film franchise, at least in North America.
Overseas counts told a much different story as "Pirates" amassed a staggering $256.3 million, rolling its worldwide cumulative total to $346.4 million. Deadline reports that with the production and marketing budgets added together, this film cost $420 million to bring to the screen, a figure which is already within sight after just 5 days of being on screen.
Delving further into the "soft" opening for a moment, 2003's "Pirates...The Curse Of The Black Pearl" started at $46.6 million in July 2003 but earned more than $300 million domestically. The film also earned Johnny Depp his first Oscar nomination and springboarded the sequel, 2006's "...Dead Man's Chest" to $423.3 million and a ranking as the 8th biggest grossing film of all time in North America. The third entry, 2007's "...At World's End" returned closer to the numbers earned by the first film in the series, but still cleared $309.4 million. Worldwide the films have grossed more than $2 billion dollars, not counting the sums calculated for "...On Stranger Tides".
All of that to say, this may be the first film in history to earn $90.1 million stateside and $256.3 million overseas and be viewed as a disappointment.
"Pirates..." opened unchallenged as Mel Gibson's "The Beaver" saw its wide expansion muted to just 168 locations, a gain of 105 new sites. However, one new film delivered a stunning opening with 6 locations hosting it.
"Midnight In Paris", directed and written by Woody Allen, reversed Allen's recent troubles in delivering a worthwhile opening. Allen consistently generates a film a year and his films often are given small platform releases. His last sizeable opening, 2008's "Vicky Cristina Barcelona", a film which earned Penelope Cruz a Supporting Actress Oscar, started at $3.8 million at nearly 700 screens, but for a platform opening, you have to go all the way back 2005's "Melinda and Melinda" which started at $74k on 1 screen to find anything comparable to this start. The film also earned Allen his best reviews in years and Oscar talk has started to float around the film's screenplay. This is Allen's third straight film to be released by Sony Pictures Classics and has already banked $5.9 million overseas.
"Bridesmaids" continued to impress by sliding a negligible 19.2%, a rarity amongst comedies, but certainly amongst R-rated comedies. Winning the daily Monday-Thursday box office rankings earned the film profitability on Tuesday and the film has banked nearly $60 million in its two weekends. The film had a production budget of $32.5 million and the inevitable sequel talk has begun to surface.
Some smaller films gained screen locations but lost money from the previous weekend. Will Ferrell's acclaimed drama "Everything Must Go" increased to nearly 250 locations (+27 sites) but slid 33% nonetheless. Ferrell's film has earned distributor Roadside Attractions an estimated $1.6 million in 10 days.
Werner Herzog's 3-D documentary "Cave Of Forgotten Dreams" hit its first bump in the road as expanded to over 100 sites, but lost an estimated 7%. Herzog's documentary has earned nearly $2 million and can certainly reverse its course with buzz still swirling around the film.
"The First Grader", which was the opening night film at my local Seattle International Film Festival, saw its per screen average plummet as it moved from 3 sites to 17. The film still earned $39k but saw its per screen average slide from $6,832 to $2,312.
The only other new release which received tracking for an estimated count was Image Entertainment's urban romantic comedy, "35 And Ticking". Starting in 6 theaters, the film earned $31k.
Overall, the weekend box office earned an estimated $158.3 million grossed by the Top 12 films, a gain of an additional 22.8% from the previous weekend. The Top 12 from the same weekend in 2010 grossed $143.1 million, aided by the $70.8 million opening weekend for another fourth film in a franchise, "Shrek Forever After".
THE TOP 10 (Estimates, with Actuals reported on Monday)
1. "Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" (Buena Vista), $90.1 million, NEW
2. "Bridesmaids" (Universal), $21.1 million, $59.5 million, 2 wks
3. "Thor" (Paramount), $15.5 million, $145.4 million, 3 wks
4. "Fast Five" (Universal), $10.6 million, $186.2 million, 4 wks
5. "Rio" (20th Century Fox), $4.7 million, $131.6 million, 6 wks
6. "Priest" (Screen Gems), $4.6 million, $23.7 million, 2 wks
7. "Jumping The Broom" (TriStar/Sony/Columbia), $3.7 million, $31.3 million, 3 wks
8. "Something Borrowed" (Warner Bros.), $3.4 million, $31.4 million, 3 wks
9. "Water For Elephants" (20th Century Fox), $2.2 million, $52.4 million, 5 wks
10. "Tyler Perry's Madea's Big Happy Family" (Lionsgate), $990k, $51.8 million, 5 wks