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‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ Sailing Toward $80 Million, ‘Baywatch’ Eyes $40 Million

Johnny Depp’s “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” is poised to dominate Memorial Day moviegoing, while Dwayne Johnson’s “Baywatch” should deliver decent results during the holiday.

Forecasts place the fifth iteration of Disney’s “Pirates” franchise at about $80 million at 4,276 North American locations during the Friday-Monday weekend. The international launch — which begins Wednesday — should deliver between $150 million and $175 million.

“Dead Men Tell No Tales” is only the third wide release film in 2017 for Disney, which has so far seen blockbuster results from “Beauty and the Beast” and “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” with a combined $2 billion in global box office so far. The estimated budget for “Dead Men” is $230 million, so Disney needs to see the same kind of ticket sales.

Paramount’s “Baywatch” is tracking for an opening at around $40 million at about 3,500 domestic locations for its first five days, although the studio’s guidance is in the low 30s. The action-comedy is a far smaller bet for the studio with an estimated budget in the $65 million range.

Seth Gordon is directing “Baywatch,” which follows Johnson’s devoted lifeguard as he butts heads with a brash new recruit, played by Zac Efron, until they uncover a criminal plot. As usual, Johnson has been relentless in terms of promoting the picture. Paramount has moved “Baywatch” up a day to get the jump on “Pirates,” so preview screenings will begin Wednesday night.

There’s no danger that “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” will come anywhere near the domestic record for Memorial Day, set in 2007 when “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” launched with $139 million over the four days.

The four previous “Pirates” movies have taken in $1.28 billion domestically and $2.45 billion internationally with the North American market representing a progressively smaller share. 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. Korea, Italy, France, Scandinavia, Switzerland, Indonesia, Philippines, Taiwan, and Thailand are the major markets opening on Wednesday. For its part, Paramount is leaving the foreign markets to “Pirates” and will open “Baywatch” in about two-thirds of international markets on the first weekend in June.

Both films, however, are sinking ships when it comes to critical acclaim. “Pirates” is not connecting with critics with a 33 percent “rotten” on ‎Rotten Tomatoes‎; “Baywatch” is seriously disliked at only 13 percent approval.

“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 “Pirates of the Caribbean: 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.

Last weekend’s disappointing results from Ridley Scott’s “Alien: Covenant” have raised worries about the summer movie season of 2017. Year-to-date results are up 2.5% to $4.31 billion, according to Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at comScor, who also noted that summer results are off nearly 10% compared with the 2016 summer.

“Though 2013’s record breaking $314.7 million Memorial weekend led by ‘Fast & Furious 6’ is in no jeopardy of losing its crown, the one-two punch of the very summer-appropriate and very R-rated ‘Baywatch’ combined with Johnny Depp’s return as Jack Sparrow along with a new villain in the form of Javier Bardem in the fifth installment of the ‘Pirates’ franchise could give the weekend a chance to flex its box-office muscles and narrow the gap vs. last year,” he said.

“This could build momentum leading into the highly anticipated and much buzzed about release of ‘Wonder Woman’ on June 2 and a cadre of big titles set for release in that month and beyond,” Dergarabedian concluded.

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