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Weekend Forecast for May 25-28, 2007

By Reagen Sulewski

May 24, 2007

No, I will not say savvy or parley. Quit asking.

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Just three weeks old, the newly minted opening weekend box office record is already in jeopardy from a bunch of pirates. In any event, we're headed for an unprecedented third $100 million opener of this month, something that hasn't even happened in one year before.

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End is the third and potentially final outing of Disney's surprising cross-over amusement park adaptation. Propelled by one of the definitive movie star turns of all time in Johnny Depp's Jack... sorry, Captain Jack Sparrow, the Pirates franchise ranks as one of the strongest in cinema history. The first film opened to a modest $46 million, but due to that oh so rare commodity in movies today, legs, it ended up north of $300 million in final box office.

Realizing they had lightning in a bottle, Disney quickly greenlighted two back-to-back filmed sequels, the first of which premiered last summer. Dead Man's Chest proved even more successful, setting the single weekend box office record and grossing $423 million total. That was merely the first half of a cliffhanger, which saw Captain Sparrow meet an apparent noble end at the... tentacles of the Kraken, sent by Davy Jones. Of course, if you've been paying attention to any of the commercials, you know that he's back, somehow. He's not the only character to escape death, apparently, as the ending of Dead Man's Chest brought back his nemesis/newfound-ally Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) from his exit in the first film.




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All the other principals are of course back, including Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley, with the key addition of Chow Yun-Fat as the leader of Singapore's pirates, called in to help with saving Jack and defeating Davy Jones.

This Pirates franchise is a film in the tradition of rarely seen epic action-adventure films like the Indiana Jones series. The comic sensibilities are difficult to come by naturally, which is mainly where the inspired performance of Depp comes in. There exists almost no other actor today that I can imagine making this series work as well as he does.

Even at that, the latest two films have come in for some criticism. The second film was hit by some for packing too many subplots in, and for a slightly uneven comedic tone. Some of this could be put up to the fact that director Gore Verbinski and the team of writers knew they had another movie to resolves these things in. It's also possible they've lost their way a bit, but public word-of-mouth wasn't too bad for it (and certainly not in comparison to May's two other trilogy enders to date). Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End has some of the same criticism laid upon it, but it's difficult to imagine too many of the viewers of the second film not sticking around for the conclusion (then again, look at the respective takes for Back to the Future 2 and 3, a somewhat analogous series).


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