Global take boosted by overseas benchmark

Disney’s “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” dropped anchor this weekend in virtually every part of the world, collecting a boffo $346.4 million worldwide.

Pic’s estimated $90.1 million domestic bow — the year’s highest so far, but still less than the two previous “Pirates” openings — was overshadowed by the film’s international debut, an estimated $256.3 million from nearly 20,000 screens in more than 100 markets. (Disney claims this to be the widest international bow ever.)

As it stands, “Stranger Tides” turned in not only the franchise’s best overseas opening, beating “At World’s End” with $216 million, but also as the best-ever international debut on an industrywide scale.

“We have a movie that we knew would be embraced by everybody,” said Disney distrib topper Chuck Viane. “So obviously, we wanted to play (the film) on a worldwide stage.”

Domestically, “Stranger Tides” bowed at 4,155 locations, and its opening ranks third in the franchise, behind those of “Dead Man’s Chest” ($135 million) and “At World’s End” ($114 million). The inaugural “Pirates” pic debuted Stateside to $46.6 million in 2003 but wound up cuming more than six times its opening with $305.4 million. This weekend’s global run for “Stranger Tides” certainly points to the franchise’s widespread popularity overseas, while the U.S. opening suggests Stateside enthusiasm for the franchise could be waning.

Still, “Stranger Tides” gave overall U.S. totals another much-needed boost — up 12% over the same frame last year, when “Shrek Forever After” bowed to $70.8 million.

Among this year’s top holdover crop (“Stranger Tides” was the only wide domestic release), Universal’s “Bridesmaids” (an estimated $21.1 million, down 20%) one-upped last weekend’s champ “Thor,” from Paramount and Marvel, with an estimated $15.5 million over the weekend. “Bridesmaids” has grossed a total $59.5 million after two weeks in the U.S.; “Thor,” in its third frame, has cumed $145.4 million.

Rounding out the top five were Universal’s “Fast Five” and 20th Century Fox’s “Rio,” with an estimated $10.6 million and $4.7 million, respectively. In sixth place, Sony/Screen Gems’ soph title “Priest” fell significantly (69%) with an estimated $4.6 million.

‘Pirates’ booty for Imax

Marking Imax’s third title in four weeks, “Stranger Tides” grossed $16.7 million globally from 394 total Imax runs. That makes “Stranger Tides” the company’s biggest-ever worldwide take, besting the $15.9 million opening take for “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1.”

“This movie is a global phenomenon,” said Imax prexy Greg Foster. “We’re focused on the international market, and ‘Pirates’ is showing the power of Hollywood blockbusters around the world, particularly in Imax.”

While “Stranger Tides” now stands as Imax’s overseas benchmark with $8.4 million, the Imax share saw a relatively even split between international and domestic ($8.3 million) contributions. Pic screened at 256 domestic Imax locations, coming in line with what Imax made on “Fast Five” and better than “Thor.”

Disney said it won’t have 3D results until sometime today. Pic played at about 2,700 3D locations, which included Imax.

“Tides” played best with male moviegoers, repping 54%, while couples made up 53% of the opening aud. Viane said the film was more story-driven, helping the couples turnout, while the previous action-heavy “Pirates” installments likely appealed to a different demo. “Stranger Tides” also skewed more toward auds over 25 (54%) than under.

The film’s under-25 seg, which gave the film an A CinemaScore rating compared to its overall B+, will play an important role as “Tides” enters Memorial Day weekend.

No ‘Stranger’ overseas

Further highlighting the film’s golden overseas bow, “Stranger Tides” set all-time opening weekend records in Russia, Latin America and smaller territories like Norway, Turkey and Ukraine.

Russia is the pic’s highest-grossing market with an estimated $28.6 million. That beats the entire gross of “At World’s End” in that territory; in China, “Stranger Tides” took an estimated $20 million to come in second place internationally.

A handful of other major markets, including Germany ($19.4 million) and India ($3.6 million), saw series-best openings for “Stranger Tides.” Germany came in just under the U.K.’s third-place $19.5 million opening.

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