Monday Morning Quarterback Part I

By BOP Staff

May 23, 2011

Do you mind if I stand here in the shadow of your, uh, greatness?

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Kim Hollis: Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides opened to $90.2 million. While a stellar debut, it is the first Pirates sequel to fall short of $100 million. What do you think of this result?

Edwin Davies: As far as the film itself goes, it's a solid result, but it's possibly a sign of nascent or growing franchise fatigue for the series as a whole, though we won't know for certain until we see how it fares over the next few weeks. (Personally, I think it is going to drop precipitously next week against Kung Fu Panda 2.) I can only speak for myself and others I have spoken to, but the second and third Pirates films destroyed a lot of the goodwill from the first. A lot of people have made the comparison to the Shrek series, where the dreadful third film made people unwilling to take a chance on the moderately better fourth, but in this instance the critical consensus seems to be that the fourth Pirates film is just as bad as the third. (And the second, which I really, really hated.)


Let's look at the history of the series; The Curse of the Black Pearl was a surprise hit and took $305 million, Dead Man's Chest was a phenomenon that took $423 million, but At World's End fell considerably to $309 million. That's a drop of of nearly $120 million in the space of a year, though obviously it still attained a great final total and, within the context of the first three films, it could be argued that the second film was an aberration, and that just over $300 million was the norm for the series. This result suggests that it might have been the start of a downward trend, and whilst I don't think we'll see quite that same size of a drop between the third and fourth films (unless On Stranger Tides has a ridiculously poor multiplier of 2.0) I won't be surprised if it ends up at around the $250 million mark. This would make it easily the lowest grossing of the series, even though inflation and 3D prices means that it costs more for people to see this film than the previous three. If nothing else, this result suggests that considerably fewer people went to see it than parts two and three.

Matthew Huntley: The result was about in line with my expectations and it validated the vibe I got from my fellow audience members when the trailer first showed before Tron: Legacy back in December (I believe it was a feeling of "meh"). While this installment will likely become another profitable venture for Disney (once you take into account its international numbers), the studio desperately needs a new franchise. While I've yet to see On Stranger Tides, speaking about it as a franchise only, it has played out and it's unlikely it will have the kind of resurgence Fast Five gave to The Fast and the Furious (which is still holding strong in its fourth weekend by the way). So I would urge Disney to hang up its Pirates hat and move on with some class before it embarrasses itself. Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow is simply no longer a fresh idea.

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