When it comes to the debut of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, Captain Jack Sparrow might say “there’s good news and there’s bad news, mate.” First, the good news: the fifth film in the Pirates series was the number one movie with $77 million in sales. The bad news? Pirates and every other movie combined put up the worst Memorial Day box office performance in nearly 20 years.
In fact, not since the original Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl in 2003 has a Pirates film had such a poor opening weekend.
Of course, the franchise was an unknown quantity then, with many uncertain how a theme park attraction would translate into a big-budget action film.
For star Johnny Depp, this was his first movie to debut at number one since the last time he played Jack Sparrow, in 2011’s Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.
All is not lost for the Pirates franchise, though, as overseas box office numbers have been much more promising than here in the states.
Dead Men Tell No Tales opened to $67 million in ticket sales in China, contributing to a $208.4 million international debut from Friday to Sunday.
Reviews for the fifth Pirates film were mostly negative and it seems fair to say the fanbase has eroded over time with each subsequent entry.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 held onto the number two spot with $25.2 million over the Memorial Day weekend, bringing the Marvel sequel’s total box office take to $338.5 million.
The R-rated film version of Baywatch had a disastrous third-place debut, bringing in only $23 million during the popular holiday weekend.
Alien: Covenant took the top spot when it debuted the prior weekend, but sank by 71% in its second weekend to take a weak fourth place overall.
This weekend will see the debut of Warner Bros.’ Wonder Woman, the newest entry in the DC Extended Universe and a precursor to this fall’s Justice League film. Wonder Woman is stunning critics in pre-release reviews, with an astonishing 97% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.