The very fact that a fifth Pirates of the Caribbean was made should tell you just how hard-up the studios are for good ideas for movies that are adapted from already existing movies, tv, books, or articles. It’s already clear that they have bare-minimum tolerance for original movies or movies that aren’t couched in the possibility for franchising down the line, so let’s take those out of this particular conversation.
From the looks of things, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales will rule this Memorial Day Weekend with an expected $62.2 million three-day haul at the domestic box office, a likely $77 million take for the four-day domestic total, and a possible $275 million weekend worldwide. No reasonable person would consider these numbers bad news. What’s interesting is the incremental decline in opening-weekend returns for these movies. If Dead Men Tell No Tales does indeed end up close to $77 million, it would be the second smallest opening weekend in the franchise’s history after the first installment, The Curse of the Black Pearl. As a rule of thumb, when a franchise’s opening-weekend returns are coming closer and closer to those of the original, which had zero name recognition outside of a Disney ride, it’s probably about time to wrap it up. If your star is battling allegations of domestic abuse and has become known for throwing privileged tantrums, this goes double.
What saved the last Pirates movie, On Stranger Tides, was the international box office, which brought in over three times the amount that the domestic box office brought in. So, even in the movie business, globalization seems to be having its drawbacks stateside. That, sadly, is not the reason that Seth Gordon‘s flagrantly awful Batwatch is looking like it’s about to end up in the same bomb realm as King Arthur: Legend of the Sword and Ghost in the Shell. Right now, Baywatch is looking to end Memorial Day weekend with an estimated $21 million total for the four-day and $18.2 for the three-day, putting it below Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2, which will bring in something like $24.2 million in the four-day metric and definitely benefitted from the foreign markets. This is less true of Alien: Covenant and Everything, Everything, which took fourth ($13.1 million) and fifth ($7.6 million) spot, but it remains an increasingly sizable truth that the foreign box office is as much, if not more important than the domestic to many of these companies. It may be the only way left to justify allowing five movies based on an amusement park ride to be made for budgets that range fro $140 million to $300 million to produce without marketing and promotion factored in, and there’s no way of knowing when or if this “strategy” will end.