"Pirates" sails with overseas box office record

Sun May 22, 2011 6:18pm EDT
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By Steve Gorman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" weighed anchor with $346.4 million in ticket sales from its first week in worldwide release and set a record as the biggest film debut ever outside North America, according to studio estimates on Sunday.

The fourth installment in the blockbuster Walt Disney Co series -- its first in 3-D -- dug up $90.1 million of its box office treasure from Friday through Sunday in the United States and Canada alone, a figure at the lower end of projections.

By comparison, two previous "Pirates" sequels each grossed well over $100 million in their first three days domestically.

But the latest "Pirates" adventure plundered an additional $256.3 million in overseas receipts to surpass 2009's "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" as the highest-grossing international movie opening of all time, Disney said.

All told, "On Stranger Tides" collected an estimated $346.4 million worldwide -- domestic and overseas -- in its first week. That marks the fourth biggest global opening ever, behind the 2009 "Harry Potter" film, "Spider-Man 3" and Disney's last "Pirates" tale, "At World's End."

The global tally included a record $16.7 million grossed from showings on about 400 IMAX Corp giant-format screens around the world, Imax said.

Setting sail with lackluster reviews but little competition in 4,155 U.S. and Canadian theaters, "On Stranger Tides" also finished its opening weekend as the biggest North American film debut so far this year. It exceeded the $86.2 million grossed by hot-rod thriller "Fast Five" in late April.

The newest "Pirates" adventure pairs returning star Johnny Depp in his signature role as Captain Jack Sparrow with Oscar winner Penelope Cruz, a newcomer to the franchise. The film also co-stars another Academy Award winner and "Pirates" veteran, Geoffrey Rush, along with Ian McShane making his first appearance as Blackbeard.   Continued...

<p>Cast member Johnny Depp poses as he arrives on the red carpet for the screening of the film "Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" at the 64th Cannes Film Festival, May 14, 2011. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier</p>