With ticket sales down 18 percent, it's been a weak year at the box office. It's almost May, and the biggest debut we've seen this year was the $39.2 million earned by the animated film 'Rio,' which has grossed about $87 million since its release on April 15.

Now, Disney is betting that the combination of megastars Johnny Depp and Penelope Cruz with one of the biggest film franchises ever will be just the ticket to turn things around. According to early polling, the Mouse House's 'Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides' will likely be the year's first film to have an opening weekend of over $100 million, according to the L.A. Times.

If it tops $100 million in its first weekend out, it will be the first film this year to open beyond Hollywood's gold standard number. 'On Stranger Tides' opens May 20.

Check out the trailer after the jump.
With three weeks to go until its debut, 'Pirates' is already attracting more advance interest from filmgoers than 'Thor,' which opens May 6, and is in line with this weekend's big release, 'Fast Five.' The Times notes, "Movies generally attract more consumer attention the closer they get to their release dates."

The 'Pirates of the Caribbean' franchise is the sixth-highest-grossing in film history, having pulled in a whopping $2.68 billion; one of the three films, 'Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest' topped $1 billion in ticket sales on its own. Only the 'Lord of the Rings,' 'Shrek,' 'James Bond,' 'Star Wars' and 'Harry Potter' films have grossed more than the three 'Pirates' movies. The franchise is less than $250 million away from toppling 'Lord of the Rings' and 'Shrek,' something it should do in short order once it hits theaters.

categories Movies