The top three movies at the box office combined this weekend for around $125 million over four days, and while that may sound like an impressive number, it’s less than the three-day opening weekend of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, which scored $135 million all by itself for Disney back in 2006. So, after the fifth entry, the Pirates franchise must be in big trouble, right?
No, not at all. Yes, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales is a modest disappointment at this weekend’s domestic box office, but the worldwide box office should keep the franchise afloat for a few more movies, anyway. Here in America, Dead Men Tell No Tales will score around $77 million over the four-day frame, and around $63 million over the three-day weekend, good for the fifth best weekend of the year, just ahead of Kong: Skull Island. It’s the worst opening for the franchise since the original film and the three-day weekend is nearly $30 million less than what the last film, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, opened with. Clearly, there’s some franchise fatigue here in the United States, where Johnny Depp is not the draw he once was. Critics have not been kind to Dead Men Tell No Tales either, giving the movie a meager 32 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, although fans have given it an A- Cinemascore.
Ultimately, however, the domestic take of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales will not be determinative for the franchise, because by weekend’s end, the film will have earned around $275 million globally. The last Pirates film scored 76 percent of its box office internationally, and Pirates 5 may end up grossing an even higher percentage of its box office overseas. China is the big driver; Dead Men Tell No Tales has soaked up 87 percent of all tickets sales there, and it’s already surpassed the entire box-office take of At World’s End., according to Deadline.
In other words, Pirates fans in America can thank China for all future installments.