When is $90 million not enough for a weekend movie? When it's the fourth in a series of blockbusters, and the previous episode grossed nearly $155 million. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, which returns Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow and gives him luscious Latina Penélope Cruz as his profiteering damsel, earned a gaudy but underperforming $90.1 million what blogger Nikki Finke described as a "yo-ho-hum" number in its first weekend in North American theaters, according to early studio reports.
Producer Jerry Bruckheimer's reboot aimed to be the first film of 2011 to crack the $100-million weekend mark. (By this time last year, Alice in Wonderland and Iron Man 2 had both cracked the nine-digit ceiling.) Though registering the year's top weekend number, and saturating the megaplexes with 4,100 locations and showing most at 3-D or IMAX venues, the new Pirates movie fell short at home. But that's just little old North America. It wowed 'em abroad, ringing up more than a quarter-billion dollars in foreign climes for the biggest overseas debut ever.
Other tent-pole movies and burly sequels also flexed their biceps. The Marvel muscleman Thor is up to $145 million in North America and about $250 elsewhere; and Fast Five has passed the half-billion-dollar threshold. In the ladies' salon, Bridesmaids showed its staying power with a second-weekend total $21.1 million; its 20% drop from the opening frame was one of the lowest ever recorded for an R-rated comedy. You'd have to go back to the 1998 There's Something About Mary to find a gross-out romance that lost so little gas.
The figures were big even in the nano-world of indie cinema. Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris, which also premiered at Cannes last week, pulled in a half-million dollars ($578,805) at just six theaters, for the best per-screen average ($96,468) of any movie in over a year. The affable presence of Owen Wilson in the usual dreamy-writer-Woody role and the rapturous reviews (a sterling 92% from Rotten Tomatoes) plus the fantasy plot that brings to Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, Picasso and Dali to life in a magical 1920s Paris spurred the robust numbers. The film goes wider next month.
Here are the Sunday estimates of this weekend's top-grossing pictures in North American theaters, as reported by Box Office Mojo:
1. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, $90.1 million, first weekend
2. Bridesmaids, $21.1 million; $59.5 million, second week
3. Thor, $15.5 million; $145.4 million, third week
4. Fast Five, $10.6 million; $186.2 million, fourth week
5. Rio, $4.65 million; $131.6 million, sixth week
6. Priest, $4.6 million; $23.7 million, second week
7. Jumping the Broom, $3.7 million; $31.3 million, third week
8. Something Borrowed, $3.4 million; $31.4 million, third week
9. Water for Elephants, $2.15 million; $52.4 million, fifth week
10. Tyler Perry's Madea's Big Happy Family, $990,000; $51.8 million, fifth week