Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean Sequel Should Win the Weekend, Despite Lukewarm Reviews

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The Walt Disney Co.’s (NYSE: DIS) fifth film in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise is expected to run up opening weekend box office receipts of around $80 million, despite the fact that reviews at Rotten Tomatoes give the movie a rating of just 32%.

The weekend’s other major release, Paramount’s “Baywatch,” is looking at a four-day opening take of $30 million, according to a report from Box Office Mojo.

“Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales,” benefits from the return of cast members Johnny Depp as stoner pirate Jack Sparrow, Orlando Bloom as Will Turner and Geoffrey Rush as Captain Barbossa. And there is a surprise appearance by Paul McCartney as Sparrow’s Uncle Jack.

The Pirates franchise has the domestic record for Memorial Day, set in 2007 when “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” pulled in $139 million over the four days. The four previous Pirates movies have taken in $1.28 billion in the United States and $2.45 billion in foreign markets. Pirates is the 16th-highest grossing movie franchise of all time. The most recent Pirates movie, “On Stranger Tides,” was released six years ago.

Paramount, Comcast Corp.’s (NASDAQ: CMCSA) studio, had hoped for a bigger push from “Baywatch,” but with a Rotten Tomatoes rating of just 18%, a more lucrative weekend does not appear to be in the cards.

At Thursday previews, the new Pirates movie brought in $5.5 million compared with an estimated $4.5 million for “Baywatch.” The Pirates film is showing on 4,276 U.S. screens this weekend and “Baywatch” is playing on 3,647 screens. Previous Pirates films had good luck with 3D releases, and the latest is showing on more than 3,100 3D screens and nearly 400 IMAX screens this weekend.

It is also opening big internationally, at least in terms of simultaneous (day-and-date) debuts on 91% of international markets. “Baywatch” is opening in 32 international markets, about 65% of the total market.