Scotty G’s Box Office Predictions – Weekend of May 20th, 2011

You know that studios respect a film at the summer box office when they decide to let it be the only major release of the weekend.  In this case, that film is Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.  Despite the fact that the series has not had an installment since 2007, studios feel that audiences will power Captain Jack Sparrow to a huge opening weekend.  Only a handful of films are getting a limited release this weekend, including Woody Allen’s latest film.  The question of the weekend for box office predictors like me will be whether or not Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides will be able to surpass the opening weekend gross of $135.6 million of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest?  Here is my take on how the weekend will break down:

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides continues the story of Captain Jack Sparrow as he goes on a quest to find the Fountain of Youth.  Johnny Depp returns to arguably his most popular character and Geoffrey Rush also returns as the treacherous Captain Barbossa.  New to the franchise are Ian McShane as the feared pirate Blackbeard and Penelope Cruz as an old flame of Captain Jack’s.  The film also has a new director with Rob Marshall (Chicago and Memoirs of a Geisha) taking the helm for Gore Verbinski (who directed the previous three installments of the franchise).  The film has big shoes to fill, as the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise is the rare series that can say that each of its releases has finished with a domestic gross above $300 million (The Lord of the Ringsand Spider-Man franchises can also lay claim to that as well).  The last two installments have had opening weekend grosses above $100 million and for exact numbers, here is how the franchise has done overall: 
2003 – Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl – $46.6 million opening weekend // $305.4 million overall domestic gross
2006 – Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest – $135.6 million opening weekend // $423.3 million overall domestic gross
2007 – Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End – $114.7 million opening weekend // $309.4 million overall domestic gross
Average Opening Weekend – $98.96 million
Average Overall Domestic Gross – $346 million
A big question to be asked is whether or not the four year gap between films will help or hurt the franchise?  I don’t think the anticipation for this installment is as high as the second or even third installment.  People are happy that Captain Jack is back on the big screen, and I’m sure it will have a great opening weekend, but I don’t see any box office records being set in the process.  Critics have been negative on the film as Rotten Tomatoes has the film listed at 36% positive as of this writing.  The critical reaction might play a factor in the long haul, but I don’t see it having much of an affect this weekend.  Debuting in 4,155 theatres, I’m predicting that Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides will finish in 1st place with a gross of $122 million.
Among last weekends holdovers that will still be in the top five this weekend, here are my predictions:
Bridesmaids had an excellent debut last weekend and I think this weekend it will post a solid hold because it will not be going after the action adventure audience of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and it is the only major comedy in release worth seeing.  These two factors should give the film a solid hold as I’m predicting a drop of only 30%, giving Bridesmaids a gross of $18.3 million and a 2nd place finish.
Thor will have its reign as box office champion come to an end this weekend, and I do think that Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides will take away a large portion of its audience.  I’m predicting that Thor drops 55% this weekend, giving it a gross of $15.6 million and a 3rd place finish.
Fast Five posted a decent hold last weekend, but like Thor, I think Fast Five will be in trouble this weekend because of the fact that Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides is opening and too many films are going after the same audience.  I’m predicting that Fast Five will drop 51%, giving the Vin Diesel film a gross of $9.9 million and a 4th place finish.
Rio should round out the top five.  It is the only film for families in release, which should benefit the film during the long weekend.  I’m predicting that Rio will fall 21% from last weekend, giving the film a gross of $6.5 million and a 5th place finish.
In limited release the following films are opening:  35 and Ticking, A Beautiful Life, The Lion of Judah, Midnight in Paris and Went The Day Well? (Re-Release). 
Midnight in Paris (which is Woody Allen’s latest film) is the only film in limited release to have a positive rating above 80% at Rotten Tomatoes as of this writing.
So to recap, here are my predictions:
  1. Pirates of the Caribbean:  On Stranger Tides – $122 million
  2. Bridesmaids – $18.3 million 
  3. Thor – $15.6 million 
  4. Fast Five – $9.9 million 
  5. Rio – $6.5 million 
Think you can do better than me in making predictions?  Go to http://www.boxofficemojo.com and sign up for “The Box Office Derby”.  Make your predictions and see if you can beat the man with the I.D. “ScottyG”.
Remember to check back on Sunday to see how I did!
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