The waters are choppy at the Memorial Day box office.
Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales is easily winning the four-day holiday regatta with an estimated $76.6 million from 4,276 theaters, while Baywatch is belly flopping with a projected $22 million in a rare miss for Dwayne Johnson, who stars alongside Zac Efron in Paramount’s R-rated adaptation of the classic TV show.
Pirates 5, returning Johnny Depp in the lead role as the zany Captain Jack Sparrow, is being billed as the final chapter in the storied franchise and is pacing behind the last three installments in the U.S. In terms of Memorial Day openings, it ranks No. 11, not adjusting for inflation. Pirates of the Caribbean 3: At World’s End (2007) remains the holiday record-holder with $139.8 million, while Pirates of the Caribbean 4: On Stranger Tides opened to $90.2 million over the May 20-22 weekend in 2011, a non-holiday.
Franchise fatigue among U.S. consumers is a huge concern for Hollywood, and Disney is counting on Pirates 5 doing huge business overseas to make up for any deficit closer to home. The movie, costing north of $200 million to make before a major marketing spend, is already finding plenty of treasure overseas with an international opening of $208.4 million for an estimated global launch of $285 million through Monday, if not north of $300 million.
China — where the movie’s world premiere was held — leads with $67.8 million, more than the entire runs of the last two films in the franchise, based on the storied Disney theme park attraction. Imax theaters turned in $24 million globally, including $9 million in China.
“We’re making movies for a global audience. This is one of the most prolific franchises in history, and will cross $4 billion in combined box-office revenue today. That is extraordinary by any measure,” said Disney distribution chief Dave Hollis, whose studio is also celebrating crossing $1 billion in 2017 domestic ticket sales, the first studio to do so this year. Hollis added that Pirates 5‘s domestic opening will come in about 15 percent behind Pirates 4, a respectable drop.
Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg, who helmed the breakout international darling Kon-Tiki, directed Pirates 5. Starring alongside Depp are Javier Bardem, Brenton Thwaites, Kaya Scodelario, Kevin R. McNally, Golshifteh Farahani, David Wenham, Stephen Graham, Orlando Bloom and Geoffrey Rush.
The franchise has never been a favorite of critics, outside of the first film, with Dead Men Tell No Tales currently sporting a 32 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, roughly on par with the last installment, 2011’s Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. Moviegoers liked it far more, giving the film an A- CinemaScore.
Baywatch, directed by Seth Gordon, fared even worse among reviewers, with an 18 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
More from: The Hollywood Reporter