As expected, 'Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides' swiped the most swag at the box office this weekend. In fact, with an estimated $90.1 million, it enjoyed the biggest opening of 2011 so far. But by the franchise's own standards, that's only a modest debut, as 'Bridesmaids' and 'Thor' were still strong enough to take some of the wind out of its sails.
Predictions for the fourth 'Pirates,' which had no other new wide releases to compete against, staggered all over the map like Captain Jack Sparrow's wobbly walk. Given the film's opening at more than 4,100 venues, including 2,700 3D and IMAX screens, and the all-ages appeal of Johnny Depp's bonkers buccaneer, pundits had guessed anywhere from $90 to $130 million. That it opened near the bottom of that range has to be somewhat disappointing to Disney. It's the first 'Pirates' since the original to open with less than $114 million. Reviews were weak, and perhaps the four years since 'Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End' weren't long enough for wary moviegoers to forget how disappointing the last installment was.
On the other hand, it was enough to make them forget Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom, who were apparently not missed this time. And on foreign shores, 'Stranger Tides' has pulled in $256.3 million, for a worldwide total of $346.4 million. With numbers like those, Disney is probably laughing all the way to the 'Pirates 5' drawing board.