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‘Pirates’ dominates global box office

Disney nabs $126.5 million domestically

Looks like Captain Jack Sparrow and the Black Pearl have set a course for global domination.

Over the Memorial Day weekend, “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” nabbed an estimated $126.5 million at the domestic box office, including its early limited runs Thursday.

Pic is on track to be the biggest four-day Memorial Day weekend opener ever, beating out the last pic in the “X-Men” series.

On the overseas front, “At World’s End” took in a monstrous $205.5 million internationally at 17,500 playdates in 102 markets.

The estimate, issued Sunday, put the third “Pirates” pic nearly $30 million ahead of the international launch record of $176 million set three weekends ago by “Spider-Man 3” — although Spidey managed to take in $231 million overseas, thanks to earlier-than-usual openings, by the end of its opening weekend.

Combined with the domestic total of $126.5 million, the worldwide total as of Sunday had hit $332 million after five days — a figure matched by only 132 other films.

“At World’s End” has already taken in close to one-third of the final international cume of $642 million for predecessor “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest.” And it’s grossed nearly 60% of the final foreign cume of $350 million for “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl” in 2003.

Strong demand for “At World’s End” prompted BVI to maximize the number of international locations — 700 more than the “Spiderman 3,” noted Anthony Marcoly, BVI’s president for sales and distribution. He said the opening had exceeded internal forecasts and pointed out that the socko numbers had been generated during a non-holiday period.

The pirates performed best in the U.K. with $25.8 million at 1,250 in three days, followed by South Korea with $19.6 million at 623 — a new five-day record that broke the “Spider-Man 3” mark. The four-day German bow grossed $16.9 million at 1,585 while France totaled $16.7 million at 620 in five days and Japanese biz sizzled with $15.7 million at 883 in just two days.

Russians responded with record numbers for “At World’s End” with $13.7 million at 700 in four day, breaking the week-old opening mark set by “Shrek the Third.” And in Latin America, the pirates dominated with 70% to 85% market share, totaling $21.3 million at 2,667 in 18 markets.

“At World’s End” still has two other markets to open — India on June 1 and China on June 10.

The third “Pirates” is hitting the foreign market after three weeks of domination by “Spider-Man 3,” which managed to take in another $19.1 million over the weekend to push its foreign cume to $499 million. On Monday, it should become the 14th pic to gross half a billion dollars outside the United States.

Spidey performed best in the U.K. with $2.1 million at 769 in a 59% decline to push the cume to $60.5 million. In France, the webslinger’s biz fell 72% to $2 million at 866 for a $49.6 million total.

With rivals mostly avoiding “Spider-Man 3” and “At World’s End,” only two other films generated notable biz — Par’s “Shrek the Third” and Warner’s “Zodiac,” both with $5 million each.

“Shrek,” which will open in most markets in June and July, generated most of its biz from its second Russian frame with $4.2 million at 263, off 65%, for a cume of $19.5 million. “Zodiac,” which opened last weekend in 19 markets, performed best in France with $1.34 million at 376.

Universal’s sturdy “Mr. Bean’s Holiday” took in $1.1 million at 2,000 in 40 markets to raise its cume to $178 million.

Back on the home front, Paramount and DreamWorks said Sunday that “Shrek the Third” made $51.3 million over the three days. Cumulative box office after the weekend is estimated to be $215.7 million.

At No. 3, Sony estimates that its “Spider-Man 3” has passed a total cume of $303.3 million domestically over the weekend and $499.1 million internationally.

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