This Week In Movies by Pete Hammond ‘Pirates of Caribbean’

By Pete Hammond It was a week for setting records on wide release and specialty fronts as the Cannes Film Festival (where I’ve been the last two weeks) ended but two of its big premiere titles exploded at the domestic and international boxoffice. Disney’s fourth go-round with Pirates of the Caribbean was on the weak side domestically with about $90 million and the studio apparently was hoping for at least a tad more than $100 million. Poor Mickey , right? Not really since the business is basically international now and this Rob Marshall-directed sequel with Johnny Depp back in his signature role as Captain Jack chalked up the best ever international bow not only for those Pirates but just about everyone else with $256 million adding up to a stunning worldwide total of $346 in just three days. There has been four years instead of the usual two between Pirates sequels and the delay may have affected stateside enthusiasm for the series. Still $90 million smackeroos is a bountiful treasure by any measure. The filmmakers told me they had to find a way to reinvent the series since the storyline between Orlando Bloom and Kiera Knightley had been played out in the poorly reviewed second and third chapters. Now they have been jettisoned in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides replaced by new characters including Penelope Cruz as a con lady pirate with a past emotional involvement with Jack Sparrow and Ian McShane as the legendary Blackbeard. Chicago director Rob Marshall brings almost a rhythmic quality to the swordplay and action scenes that makes this version move along with more verve than the previous two. Of course Depp is the secret weapon and he never disappoints in the role that brought him a SAG award for Best Actor and an Oscar nomination. Plus he seems to be enjoying himself and even suggests that another sequel should be set on the actual Disneyland ride itself and the characters can just go around and around. He’s kidding. I think. Disney , new chief Rich Ross and producer Jerry Bruckheimer really need this one to work and based on its opening its right in line to become the biggest selling Pirates yet thanks to the rest of the world. It’s B+ Cinemascore rating also indicates fairly good word of mouth ahead even if critics balked giving it a low Rotten Tomatoes score.

Almost equally impressive, albeit on a smaller scale, Universal’s raunchy female bonding comedy dropped only 20% from its first weekend scoring a stellar $21 million for nearly $60 million after just 10 days. Excellent. It even passed Thor, leader for the last two weekends proving there is some serious girl power at work here. With the guys coming back next weekend for The Hangover 2 it will be very interesting to see the match up. Sure they will come out swinging but who’s gonna have the real staying power in this summer boxoffice fight? When all is said and done watch out for Bridesmaids.

And whoa, watch out for Woody Allen too who scored the best opening of his career and the best for Sony Pictures Classics – ever. His charming Midnight In Paris scored a brilliant $578,905 for a way over –performing $96,468 per screen average. That’s bigger than anything all last year including The King’s Speech and it is the biggest per screen haul since Precious in 2010 – and it was just $8000 shy of that mark. Parisians have always loved Woody. He’s as big as Jerry Lewis there and it was a smash opening night affair in Cannes too. The attendant publicity really paid off and Woody, whose box office track record is on and off is back ON in a big way. Of course its still only six theatres and they are on both coasts but this could really take off based on great word of mouth. The less said the better about the plot. It’s just a lot of fun to see the twists and turns in the life of Owen Wilson , a true romantic lost in old Paris reveries.

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About Pete Hammond

Pete Hammond is a writer, producer, movie critic and film expert whose commentary on the entertainment industry has appeared in numerous publications and on air interviews including The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, Entertainment Weekly, New York Magazine, OK Magazine, NBC Nightly News With Tom Brokaw, Evening News With Brian Williams on MSNBC, the CBC, BBC, Bravo, E!, AMC, Canada AM and the KTLA Morning Show.

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