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Box Office: ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ Hooks No. 1, ‘Baywatch’ Belly Flops

Disney’s “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” is sailing into first place at the domestic box office this weekend, but the story the numbers dictate is not one of swashbuckling heroics.

Johnny Depp’s fifth outing as Jack Sparrow is looking at a three-day total of $62.2 million from 4,276 locations, and a four-day holiday weekend sum of $77 million. If not for international appeal, that would be a let down for a movie riding on a $230 million production budget.

The first place finish also can’t cover up a serious case of franchise fatigue. “Dead Men Tell No Tales” is the lowest opening for a Pirates movie apart from the original, which earned over $46 million in its first weekend (and was also the only installation approved by critics). Last time out in 2011, “On Stranger Tides” pulled in $90 million in its opening weekend. That’s still less than 2007’s “At World’s End” ($114.7 million) and 2006’s “Dead Man’s Chest” ($135.6 million). But it’s no question why Disney is still churning out sequels — within the next few days, the franchise will have made over $4 billion worldwide.

“This is a trend that we’ve seen play out,” said Disney’s distribution chief Dave Hollis. “We’re setting out to make a film that resonates as a global film,” he said, adding that audiences are “still here” in the U.S. as well.

“Dead Men Tell No Tales” centers on Sparrow battling deadly ghost sailors, led by Javier Bardem’s Captain Salazar. Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg directed the film, which also sees the return of both Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley, who were absent from the fourth installment.

Over time, the “Pirates” franchise has become more reliant on overseas ticket sales, and that’s certainly the case this time out. The three-day estimate overseas is a whopping $208.4 million. Globally, the movie is expected to make $270.6 million this weekend, and over $300 million by the end of the four-day holiday weekend. Since the franchise still makes money (even if U.S. grosses are dwindling) this may not be the last we see of Captain Sparrow.

“This is one of the most prolific franchises of all time,” Hollis said. “We find ourselves with another big opening weekend showcasing global appeal of the franchise.”

Meanwhile, Paramount’s “Baywatch” was hoping to make an oceanic summer splash, but looks to have ended up in the kiddie pool. The rebooted property should land a three-day total of $18.1 million from 3,647 locations and end the four-day holiday weekend with $22 million (not counting the money it made in sneaks on Wednesday). That’s far below early estimates. The movie carries a production budget above $60 million.

“I think we got pretty stung by reviews,” said Paramount’s distribution chief Megan Colligan, referring to the film’s current 19% on Rotten Tomatoes. “It research tested extremely well,” she added, saying that the stars are about to start promoting the film heavily abroad. “We’re hopeful that our international numbers will help us with our overall.”

This is the latest in a string of misses for the studio this year including “Ghost in the Shell,” “Rings,” “XXX: The Return of Xander Cage,” and “Monster Trucks.”

Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron star in the comedy that spawned from the 1990s NBC drama starring David Hasselhoff and a team of lifeguards who patrolled the beaches of Los Angeles. This time around, it’s Johnson, an experienced and devoted lifeguard, who butts heads with a new recruit, Efron, until they uncover a criminal plot.

Priyanka Chopra, Alexandra Daddario, Jon Bass, Kelly Rohrbach, and Ilfenesh Hadera also star. Seth Gordon directed the film based on a screenplay by Damian Shannon and Mark Swift. Jay Scherick, David Ronn, Thomas Lennon, and Robert Ben Garant all have story credits.

Baywatch” will land in third behind Disney’s “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” which has proven to be the only major hit to emerge from the summer box office so far. The sequel looks to pull in another $24.2 million over the four-day weekend, raising its domestic total close to $340 million.

Fox’s “Alien: Covenant” should end up in fourth during its second weekend in theaters. The latest installment in the Alien franchise is looking at $13.1 million over the four-day stretch. Rounding out the top five, the YA adaptation “Everything, Everything” looks to have been a solid low-budget investment for Warner Bros. Its four day total should be about $7.6 million.

This weekend, a number of films are meeting or passing milestones. Universal’s “Fate of the Furious” became the sixth film to earn over $1 billion overseas. Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” passed $500 million domestically putting it in elite company as well. With $783 million globally, Disney and Marvel’s “Guardians 2” has surpassed the first “Guardians” movie’s total earnings. Disney in general is keeping the box office afloat — as of Friday, the studio became the first to have earned over $1 billion in 2017, reaching the milestone in near record time. The only time a studio has earned so much so quickly was Disney last year.

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