Box Office: 'Pirates 5' Sails for $77M U.S. Bow; 'Baywatch' Belly Flops

Left, courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures; Right, courtesy of Paramount Pictures
'Pirates of the Caribbean 5,' 'Baywatch'

Overseas, 'Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales' found plenty of treasure with a huge $208 million debut for an estimated global launch of $285 million-plus; 'Baywatch' marks a rare miss for Dwayne Johnson.

The waters are choppy at the Memorial Day box office.

Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales is easily winning the four-day holiday regatta with an estimated $76.6 million from 4,276 theaters, while Baywatch is belly flopping with a projected $22 million in a rare miss for Dwayne Johnson, who stars alongside Zac Efron in Paramount's R-rated adaptation of the classic TV show.

Pirates 5, returning Johnny Depp in the lead role as the zany Captain Jack Sparrow, is being billed as the final chapter in the storied franchise and is pacing behind the last three installments in the U.S. In terms of Memorial Day openings, it ranks No. 11, not adjusting for inflation. Pirates of the Caribbean 3: At World's End (2007) remains the holiday record-holder with $139.8 million, while Pirates of the Caribbean 4: On Stranger Tides opened to $90.2 million over the May 20-22 weekend in 2011, a non-holiday.

Final Friday-Monday estimates for all films will be updated tomorrow.

Franchise fatigue among U.S. consumers is a huge concern for Hollywood, and Disney is counting on Pirates 5 doing huge business overseas to make up for any deficit closer to home. The movie, costing north of $200 million to make before a major marketing spend, is already finding plenty of treasure overseas with an  international opening of $208.4 million for an estimated global launch of $285 million through Monday, if not north of $300 million.

China — where the movie's world premiere was held — leads with $67.8 million, more than the entire runs of the last two films in the franchise, based on the storied Disney theme park attraction. Imax theaters turned in $24 million globally, including $9 million in China.

"We’re making movies for a global audience. This is one of the most prolific franchises in history, and will cross $4 billion in combined box-office revenue today. That is extraordinary by any measure," said Disney distribution chief Dave Hollis, whose studio is also celebrating crossing $1 billion in 2017 domestic ticket sales, the first studio to do so this year. Hollis added that Pirates 5's domestic opening will come in about 15 percent behind Pirates 4, a respectable drop.

Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg, who helmed the breakout international darling Kon-Tiki, directed Pirates 5. Starring alongside Depp are Javier Bardem, Brenton Thwaites, Kaya Scodelario, Kevin R. McNally, Golshifteh Farahani, David Wenham, Stephen Graham, Orlando Bloom and Geoffrey Rush.

The franchise has never been a favorite of critics, outside of the first film, with Dead Men Tell No Tales currently sporting a 32 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, roughly on par with the last installment, 2011's Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. Moviegoers liked it far more, giving the film an A- CinemaScore.

Baywatch, directed by Seth Gordon, fared even worse among reviewers, with an 18 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Paramount and Skydance decided to get a jump on the holiday weekend and launch Baywatch on Thursday. The movie is looking at a five-day debut of just $26.6 million from 3,647 theaters. Adding insult to injury, Disney and Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is expected to beat Baywatch for the four-day weekend with $26 million, compared to Baywatch's estimated $22 million.

Heading into the holiday, pre-release tracking had suggested the comedy would clear $42 million or more for the five days, although some services lowered their estimates to $37 million late last week. Audiences bestowed Baywatch with a B+ CinemaScore. The movie skewed slightly female (52 percent) on Thursday, while 45 percent of ticket buyers were under the age of 25.

"I think reviews did hurt the film, which scored great in test screenings. Maybe it is a brand that relied on a positive critical reaction more than we recognized. But we do feel bullish about the international marketplace, where Baywatch opened this weekend in Taiwan to great numbers and well ahead of 22 Jump Street and Central Intelligence," Paramount marketing and domestic distribution president Megan Colligan said.

Baywatch opens in earnest overseas next week.

There is certainly precedent for programming Memorial Day with R-rated comedies; The Hangover Part II debuted to $103.4 million over the holiday in 2011, followed by $50.3 million for The Hangover Part III in 2013 and $36 million for Sex and the City 2 in 2010.

Baywatch, costing under $70 million to produce before marketing, also stars Priyanka Chopra, Alexandra Daddario, Jon Bass, Kelly Rohrbach and Ilfenesh Hadera. It doesn't debut overseas until June 2.

Last summer, PG-13 action comedy Central Intelligence, starring Johnson alongside Kevin Hart, opened to $35 million over the June 17-19 weekend. And in late May 2015, Johnson's San Andreas posted a three-day debut of $54.6 million.

Elsewhere, Fox and Ridley Scott's Alien: Covenant is falling to No. 4 in its second outing with an estimated four day gross of $13.1 million for a domestic total of $60 million.

The weekend wasn't a complete wash out for Johnson as The Fate of the Furious became only the sixth movie in history to cross $1 billion at the international box office, fueled by a record-breaking $387.4 million in China. Globally, the Universal release has earned $1.22 billion globally.

Fate of the Furious wasn't the only milestone. Disney's Beauty and the Beast crossed $500 million domestically, while Disney and Marvel's Guardians 2 has now eclipsed the first film with a global total of $783 million. Guardians of the Galaxy grossed $733.3 million.

May 26, 12:20 p.m. Updated with revised weekend estimates.
May 27, 7:30 a.m. Updated with revised weekend estimates.
May 28, 7:30 a.m. Updated with revised weekend estimates.