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Box Office: ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ Plunders $5.5 Million on Thursday Night

Johnny Depp’s “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” pillaged $5.5 million at Thursday night screenings in North America.

The fifth “Pirates of the Caribbean” — the first since 2011 — is poised to dominate Memorial Day moviegoing, while Dwayne Johnson’s “Baywatch” should deliver moderate results during the holiday. Recent forecasts placed “Dead Men Tell No Tales” in the $80 million range as it launches at 4,276 North American locations during the Friday-Monday weekend.

The Thursday night preview number was significantly higher than the comparable $4.2 million figures generated by both “Maleficent” and “The Jungle Book.” The latter went on to gross $364 million domestically and $966 million worldwide last year.

The international “Dead Men Tell No Tales” debut — which began Wednesday — should deliver between $150 million and $175 million.

Baywatch” opened with an estimated $4.5 million on Thursday, which includes $1.25 million from Wednesday night previews. Paramount’s R-rated action-comedy, which is opening in 3,647 North American locations, had generated predictions ranging from $32 million to $40 million for the five-day Thursday-Monday period.

“Dead Men Tell No Tales” centers on Depp’s swashbuckling Jack Sparrow battling deadly ghost sailors, led by the Javier Bardem’s Captain Salazar. Kaya Scodelario and Brenton Thwaites join the cast, with Orlando Bloom returning as Will Turner and Geoffrey Rush as Captain Hector Barbossa.

Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg, who teamed on “Kon-Tiki,” are directing “Dead Men Tell No Tales,” with Jerry Bruckheimer producing. The executive producers are Mike Stenson, Chad Oman, Joe Caracciolo, Jr., Terry Rossio, and Brigham Taylor.

“Dead Men Tell No Tales” is only the third wide release this year from Disney, which has so far seen blockbuster results from “Beauty and the Beast” and “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” hauling nearly $2 billion at the global box office. “Beauty” has taken in $1.22 billion worldwide and the “Guardians” sequel has hit $742 million.

“Dead Men Tell No Tales” carries an estimated $230 million budget, so Disney needs worldwide ticket sales to reach at least $500 million to see a profit on the tentpole.

The third film in the franchise, 2007’s  “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End,” set a Memorial Day weekend record when it launched with $139 million over the four days.

The four previous “Pirates” movies have grossed $1.28 billion domestically and $2.45 billion internationally, with the North American market representing a smaller share with each new film. On 2011’s “On Stranger Tides,” the domestic total hit $241 million while the foreign markets delivered $804 million.

“Dead Men Tell No Tales” will launch this weekend in about 91% of the international market, virtually everywhere but Japan. For its part, Paramount is leaving the foreign markets to “Pirates” and will open “Baywatch” in about two-thirds of international territories on the first weekend in June.

Both films, however, are sinking ships when it comes to critical acclaim. “Pirates” is not connecting with critics, earning a 29% “rotten” rating on ‎Rotten Tomatoes‎, while “Baywatch” carries a 19% “rotten” rating.

The online ticket service Fandango reported on Thursday that “Dead Men Tell No Tales” was outpacing Disney’s “The Jungle Book” (2016) at the same point. The live-action “Jungle Book” wound up with $364 million domestically and $966 million worldwide.

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