Hey, ho, me hearties! It was a pirate's life for everyone this weekend.
The scurvy dogs and scalawags of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest plundered a bigger than whopping $135.6 million from Friday to Sunday to sail away with the record for best three-day opening of all time, according to final studio figures Monday.
Disney's theme-park-ride-inspired sequel made previous champ Spider-Man ($114.8 million in its first three days in 2002) walk the plank.
Johnny Depp's high-seas adventure cut a wide swath through the record books. Aside from the vaunted opening-weekend record, Dead Man's Chest became the first film to loot more than $100 million in just two days. And Friday's $55.5 million first-day booty was the best ever, surpassing the $50 million Thursday opening day gross last year for Star Wars: Episode III--Revenge of the Sith.
Finally, the sequel became the 51st Disney film to reach that milestone, something no other studio has achieved.
Shiver our timbers, indeed.
Expectations were huge for the film thanks to the enduring popularity of the original buccaneering romp Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, which introduced Depp's larky Captain Jack Sparrow and partners in misadventure Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom, Disney's massive marketing campaign and the studios decision to launch the film in more than 4,000 theaters. But the record-smashing weekend exceeded all predictions.
Can someone give us an aargh?
"It's an unqualified success," says Paul Dergarabedian, president of Exhibitor Relations. He notes the sequel made more money its opening day than the original made over its first weekend in July 2003--$46.6 million on its way to a domestic total of $305.4 million.
"The first movie really came out of nowhere, but Johnny Depp's portrayal of Jack Sparrow took that film to another level, and people really enjoyed that character," Dergarabedian says, crediting both Depp's star power and Disney's marketing skills for the sequel's giant launch.
Disney distribution boss Chuck Viane, who declined to comment on the studio's expectations in the days leading up to Dead Man's Chest, finally got to let loose: "I believe we have a comet on our hands," he tells Bloomberg.
Unchallenged by any major newcomers, the PG-13 adventure, directed by original helmer Gore Verbinski and costarring Bill Nighy as octopus-pussed Davey Jones, marauded into 4,133 locations, where it captured $32,817 per site. It reportedly drew audiences of all ages, equally divided between male and female--many, as Viane noted, decked out in pirate gear.
In addition to laying waste to Spider-Man, Depp's crew also dispatched the Man of Steel. After topping the box office last weekend, Superman Returns plummeted 58 percent in its second week, earning $21.8 million in second place. The Warner Bros. flick, which wisely moved up its release to avoid a clash with Dead Man's Chest, has now grossed $141.6 million.
The Devil Wears Prada held up better, dipping just 45 percent in week two with $15 million in third place. Fox's fashion exposé has grossed $63.1 million.
Adam Sandler's Click was zapped back 40 percent in its third week, earning $11.9 million in fourth place--enough to reach $105.8 million, making it the seventh Sandler movie to exceed the $100 million mark.
Disney continues to get terrific mileage from Cars--the 'toon only dropped 26 percent in its fifth week with $10.7 million--that pushed the Pixar-produced tale to $205.9 million.
Meanwhile, A Scanner Darkly registered a bright debut in limited release. Richard Linklater's animated version of Philip K. Dick's sci-fi story, featuring Keanu Reeves, Winona Ryder and Robert Downey Jr., averaged $23,040 at 17 sites for $391,672.
This was the eighth straight weekend in which overall business was up over the same period in 2005. The Top 10 films grossed $207.4 million--with Dead Man's Chest accounting for 65 percent of those ticket sales--nearly 50 percent above this time last year when the Fantastic Four ruled the multiplexes.
Here's a rundown of the Top 10 weekend movies, based on studio tallies compiled by Exhibitor Relations:
1. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, $135.6 million
2. Superman Returns, $21.8 million
3. The Devil Wears Prada, $15 million
4. Click, $11.9 million
5. Cars, $10.7 million
6. Nacho Libre, $3.3 million
7. The Lake House, $2.9 million
8. The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift, $2.5 million
9. Waist Deep, $1.9 million
10. The Break-Up, $1.6 million
(Originally published July 9, 2006 at 1:45 p.m. PT.)