Johnny Depp reprises his role as the zany Captain Jack Sparrow in the latest ‘Pirates,’ while Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron share lifeguard duties in the R-rated, raunchy ‘Baywatch.’
Hollywood is hoping that choppy waters subside at the early summer box office when Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales and Baywatch set sail over Memorial Day weekend.
Pirates — the fifth installment in the franchise that returns Johnny Depp in the title role as the zany Captain Jack Sparrow — should easily wave the flag of victory in terms of winning the holiday frame with a North American debut of $80 million to $85 million for the four days.
Still, that would mark the lowest start for the series behind the first film, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, which debuted to $46 million in 2003 on its way to earning a stunning $305.3 million domestically and $654 million globally, not accounting for inflation.
Franchise fatigue is a huge concern for Hollywood. While Disney/Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 kicked off summer 2017 in high style over the May 5-7 weekend, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword bombed badly the following weekend, while Ridley Scott’s Alien: Covenant came in well behind expectations last weekend with $36 million.
Pirates 5 cost Disney more than $200 million to make before a major marketing spend, and is counting on a huge showing overseas, where it opens in every corner of the globe this weekend, save for Japan.
The first four films have grossed more than $3.7 billion at the global box office for Disney and producer Jerry Bruckheimer. This time out, Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg, who helmed the breakout international darling, Kon-Tiki, directed. Starring in Pirates 5 alongside Depp are Javier Bardem, Brenton Thwaites, Kaya Scodelario, Kevin R. McNally, Golshifteh Farahani, David Wenham, Stephen Graham, Orlando Bloom and Geoffrey Rush.
The franchise has never been a favorite of critics — outside of the first film — with Dead Men Tell No Tales currently sporting a 33 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, on par with the last installment, 2011’s Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.
Baywatch — directed by Seth Gordon and starring man-of-the-moment Dwayne Johnson alongside Zac Efron — is even more of a question mark. In a bold and risky move, Paramount decided to make the film adaptation of the classic television show R-rated, with as many F-bombs as bikinis.
Reviewers are decimating the movie, which currently sports a 14 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Baywatch, getting a jump on the weekend by opening Thursday, could earn $40 million for the five days, although Paramount is being more conservative in suggesting the low $30 million range.
Skydance co-financed Baywatch, costing north of $60 million and also starring Priyanka Chopra, Alexandra Daddario, Jon Bass, Kelly Rohrbach and Ilfenesh Hadera.
Elsewhere over Memorial Day weekend, Netflix opens director David Michod’s War Machine, starring Brad Pitt, in a smattering of theaters when debuting the movie on the giant streamer.