Johnny Depp's sequel debut sets overseas record, while 'Bridesmaids,' 'Thor' remain near top of domestic box office tally.
By Ryan J. Downey
Pirate Jack Sparrow's latest box-office booty was something of a mixed bag.
Disney's "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides," featuring Johnny Depp's return to the unconventional sea captain role that added blockbuster power to his already formidable artistic credibility, broke international box-office records and enjoyed the highest opening of the year in America over the weekend, though it fell short of the franchise's previous two sequels both critically and commercially.
The first "Pirates of the Caribbean" flick, 2003's "The Curse of the Black Pearl," was a hit with critics, but each of its three sequels has been met with increasing disdain. "On Stranger Tides" has hit a franchise low, with just 34 percent of critics approving of the picture, according to movie-review site Rotten Tomatoes.
The new "Pirates" movie's $90.1 million domestic take (which includes an extra boost from higher-priced 3-D showings) was much less than the respective $115 million and $135 million openings of the previous sequels, though the film's $256.3 million international bounty overtook that of "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince," which set the previous overseas all-time box-office record in 2009.
Meanwhile, Woody Allen set a record of his own with "Midnight in Paris," which gave the writer/director a career best for any of his limited release openings. Playing on just six screens — about 4,149 less than "Pirates" — the Owen Wilson-led ensemble picture benefited from strong reviews and post-Cannes Film Festival buzz in earning a very respectable $579,000. That amount was about three times as much as the filmmaker's "You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger" took in when it opened on the same number of screens last year.
The comedy "Bridesmaids," starring funny ladies Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph, was #2 at the box office for a second straight week, bringing in $21 million for a $59.5 million total take. The Judd Apatow-produced flick's 20-percent second-week drop was less than the second-week decline of "The Hangover," which has a sequel on the way this weekend. "Bridesmaids" was made for a reported $32 million — about $220 million less than the reported production budget of Depp's "On Stranger Tides."
After two weeks at the top of the box office, Marvel's mythology-laced superhero movie "Thor" fell to #3, with $15.5 million for a $145.4 million total. "Fast Five" made $10.6 million and crossed the half-billion-dollar line worldwide, with its domestic take standing at a "Fast and Furious" franchise best $186.2 million. Animated kid flick "Rio" was #5 at the box office, earning $4.6 million for a $131.6 million total.
Besides "The Hangover Part II," this weekend's new releases include another sequel, "Kung Fu Panda 2," as well as director Terrence Malick's critically acclaimed "The Tree of Life," which will open in a limited number of theaters.
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