‘Pirates’ cheers up wet Italo B.O.

Pic scores best first five-day total ever

ROME — It was worth the wait. “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” finally made its way onto Italian shores this weekend to perk up a beleaguered post-summer B.O.

Exhibs are thrilled with the results of the Johnny Depp starrer — pic earned Euro 7.7 million ($9.8 million) over the three-day weekend and hit a stellar five-day cume of $12.4 million. The hearty $10,800 screen average from 900 engagements makes this the second best opening ever after “The Da Vinci Code ,” which took $10.4 million over its opening weekend, and the best first five days in release ever.

Torrential rain over the weekend didn’t hurt biz as Italians are very climate sensitive but exhibs said the film had several other winning factors on its side. The film was highly anticipated by auds, Johnny Depp has a huge fan base, the first film had a sparkling DVD release that was a great promo tool for the brand and the pic appealed to all demos.

Exhibs estimate the film could earn up to $35 million.

The only gripe out of exhibs was the crowded September release schedule. Italy had five openers this weekend.

“Cars” maintained second position in its fourth week in theaters, taking $1.5 million over the weekend. Exhibs say that kids returning from their summer vacations are still going to see the pic now.

“The Queen,” which took best actress and best screenplay at Venice, landed solidly in third position, opening with $825,000, according to Cinetel, which covers 75% of the market. Exhibs say the film is well liked and will earn up to $3.8 million.

Only “Superman Returns” has proven a disappointment, earning 30% under expectations. This weekend the film dove down to fifth place in its third weekend — garnering a mere $6.34 million. “Superman doesn’t have much of a chance now that ‘Pirates’ has been released,” said one multiplex exhib.

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