Disney's ‘Pirates’ opens to softer than expected $35 million in U.S.

5:47 PM PST 05/20/2011 by Pamela McClintock
Disney Enterprises
"Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides"

UPDATED: But overseas, the Johnny Depp tentpole is soaring, grossing $92.1 million in first three days; domestically, ‘Bridesmaids’ holds strong, while Woody Allen’s ‘Midnight’ pleases in limited bow

Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides opened to a softer than expected $35 million at the Friday box office, but continued to soar overseas, ringing in $92.1 million in its first three days.

The big question now is whether the Johnny Depp tentpole can eclipse Universal’s Fast Five to score the best domestic opening of the year. Disney is still hoping to reach $90 million, but has lowered its weekend estimate to $87 million to $89 million.

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, the last film in the franchise, opened to $114.7 million over Memorial Day in 2007.

On Stranger Tides will need to do brisk business on Saturday and Sunday and lure families, if it’s to beat Fast Five, which opened to $86.2 million in late April.

On Stranger Tides drew a B+ CinemaScore, indicating moviegoers liked the film, despite poor reviews. The majority of Friday’s audience was over the age of 35 (56%), while there was an even number of males and females buying tickets.
 

Playing in a total of 4,155 theaters, On Stranger Tides did particularly well in 256 Imax locations.

Overseas, On Stranger Tides is an unqualified hit, grosssing another $46.2 million on Friday to bring its three-day total to $92.1 million. Tally doesn’t include China grosses. The movie is pacing 8% ahead of At World’s End.
 

On Stranger Tides is looking at an international opening of $150 million or more, and is already the top debut of the year, reflecting the ravenous appetite for 3D titles and the franchise.
 

Russia has already ponied up a whopping $15.6 million. Other key drivers are the U.K. and Ireland ($8.5 million), Scandinavia ($8 million), France ($6.8 million) and Italy ($4.3 million).

On Stranger Tides is an expensive proposition for Disney, having cost $250 million to produce, according to insiders. The studio was hoping for a $100 million domestic debut, but considering the soft marketplace, was prepared for a lower number.
 

Elsewhere at the domestic box office on Friday, Universal’s Bridesmaids was holding strong. The R-rated female comedy came in No. 2, falling a scant 18% on its second Friday to $6.3 million for a cume of $44.8 million.
 

Paramount and Marvel Studios’ Thor placed No. 3, declining 52% to $4.4 million for a cume of $134.3 million.

Coming in No. 4 was Fast Five, which grossed $3.1 million on Friday for a cume of $178.7 million.

Rounding out the top five was Sony’s Priest 3D, which fell a steep 74% in its second weekend to $1.5 million and bringing its cume to $20.5 million.
 

Making headlines on the specialty side was Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris, from Sony Pictures Classics. The film—which opened the Cannes Film Festival—grossed an estimated $170,928 from six theaters for a per location average of $28,488.

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