Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales crossed the $500 million mark at the global box office this weekend. Setting sail 14 years ago with Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl, the first four films in Disney’s Pirates series have been big moneymakers for the studio, earning nearly $3.7 billion worldwide. After eight years of chronicling the travails of the bumbling, drunken sea captain, Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp), the Pirates series docked in 2011 – only to be revived last month with Dead Men Tell No Tales with Javier Bardem on deck as Captain Jack’s ghostly nemesis Captain Salazar.
Opening Memorial Day weekend with a four-day cume of $77 million domestically, Dead Men Tell No Tales was propped up by a staggering turnout overseas, which upped the worldwide box office ante to $275 million. And while the film saw a 74 percent drop in domestic ticket sales from its first to second Friday (it $23 million on its first Friday to just $6.2 million the second) thanks to the massive opening of Wonder Woman, moviegoers still turned out in droves to see Pirates overseas.
According to Variety, Dead Men Tell No Tales upped its international take to $386.6 million, and combined with the $114.6 million it has made domestically, the film’s global total stands at $501.2 million. Driving the latest Pirates installment in foreign territories is the box office in China, where the film has already made $142.6 million. The film has also made $30.6 million in Russia, $17.9 million in Korea, $16.7 million in the U.K. and $15.2 million in France.
While $500 million at the global box office is an impressive feat for any film, Dead Men Tell No Tales is facing an uphill battle if it wants to reach the high water marks set by its predecessors. Two Pirates films – 2006’s Dead Man’s Chest and 2011’s On Stranger Tides – each crossed the billion-dollar mark at the global box office; while 2003’s The Curse of the Black Pearl and 2007’s At World’s End made $652.4 million and $963.4 worldwide, respectively.
And while the new Pirates tale promises to sail on strong in foreign territories, at current, Dead Men Tell No Tales may very well end up as the lowest grossing film of the franchise domestically. With only $114.6 million in its coffers and facing tentpole releases in the coming weeks like The Mummy, Despicable Me 3 and Spider-Man: Homecoming, it’s going to take a tidal wave of ticket sales to catch up to the On Stranger Tides, the lowest domestic grosser of the franchise at $241 million.
Despite the momentum the film is currently enjoying overseas, it will be interesting to see what direction Disney takes, if any, with the Pirates series when Dean Men Tell No Tales ends its theatrical run. With a reported budget for the film of $230 million (and undoubtedly millions more in marketing costs), the studio will have to decide if the series is profitable enough to continue. It’s unlikely that the dismal critical reaction to the film will play a factor – after the 79 percent “fresh” rating the first film received on Rotten Tomatoes, the ratings have been labeled “rotten” for chapters 2 through 5 (Dead Men Tell No Tales is the lowest with 29 percent) – so the most positive indicator will undoubtedly be the demand of more Pirates adventures overseas.
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