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Box office hits and misses: ‘Pirates’ opens low, pushes Disney past milestone

Dead Men Tell No Tales had the lowest debut of any Pirates movie, but offers a pretty significant test of the international market’s ability to keep a film afloat.

It was good news and bad news for Disney over the four-day Memorial Day holiday weekend.

On the positive side, the $77 million opening for Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales pushed the studio past the $1 billion mark domestically, giving it the second-fastest run to that mark in industry history. The only studio to hit the mark faster was, well … Disney, which crossed $1 billion in early May last year.

On the not-so-positive side, however, the opening weekend for the fifth installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise was the lowest for any installment of the series so far in United States theaters. As is often the case these days, though, the domestic box office only tells part of the story. In 2011, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides earned just $90 million on its opening weekend, but went on to rake in more than $1 billion worldwide — so it remains to be seen how much of an impact the international market will have on Dead Men Tell No Tales.

# Title 4-Day Weekend U.S. Total Worldwide Total
1. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales $77K $77K $285.4M
2. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 $25.1M $338.4M $788.5M
3. Baywatch $23M $27.6M $28.4M
4. Alien: Covenant $13.1M $59.9M $160.9M
5. Everything, Everything $7.3M $22.7M $22.7M
6. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul $5.8M $14.9M $17.7M
7. Snatched $4.8M $41.1M $50.6M
8. King Arthur: Legend of the Sword $4.1M $34.8M $120M
9. The Boss Baby $2.3M $169.5M $476.7M
10. Beauty and the Beast $1.9M $500.9M $1.2B

The only other new release to make it into the top ten movies was the R-rated comedy Baywatch, based on the hit television series of the same name. The movie, which stars Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron, ended up with just a $23 million domestically and a third-place finish, which probably isn’t what studio Paramount Pictures had hoped for the film’s premiere.

Topping Baywatch was Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, which still beat the new release even though the Marvel Studios sequel is in its fourth weekend in theaters. That’s not a good look for Baywatch, which earned negative reviews from critics and general audiences alike.

Also noteworthy is the massive week-to-week drop for Alien: Covenant, which earned 71-percent less this week than it did on its underwhelming opening weekend. According to BoxOfficeMojo, that week-to-week drop for Alien: Covenant is the second-largest decline of all time for a movie’s second week in theaters, following Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2, which earned more than $169 million in its opening weekend before taking a fall.

The rest of the weekend’s top 10 films were all returning movies, and there isn’t likely to be a film among them — or any of the other returning movies, for that matter — likely to compete with the upcoming weekend’s premiere of Wonder Woman. Warner Bros. Pictures’ live-action feature based on the DC Comics superhero is one of the first films in WB’s superhero universe to earn overwhelmingly positive early reviews, so fans are understandably optimistic about the film’s prospects. The only other major release this upcoming weekend is the family-friendly Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie, but let’s face it: It’s not a question of whether Wonder Woman will win the weekend, but rather, by how much.

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