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“Pirates” sets sail for record box office debut

July 7, 2006

By Bob Tourtellotte

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead
Man’s Chest” sailed into more than 4,000 U.S. movie theaters on
Friday seeking a box office treasure that industry watchers
think could beat the $114.8 million record opening of
“Spider-Man.”

“Dead Man’s Chest” already ranks as the third-widest film
release ever in the United States with a debut in 4,133 venues,
just behind second-place “Spider-Man 2,” which opened in 4,152
theaters, and “Shrek 2,” which holds the record at 4,163,
according to Exhibitor Relations Co. Both of those films were
2004 releases.

Some analysts expect “Dead Man’s Chest” will top the $100
million dollar box office mark during its first three days,
while others put the opening weekend range at $90 million to
$100 million.

“It just has everything going for it to give it one of
those openings that everyone is going to talk about,” said
Exhibitor Relations President Paul Dergarabedian.

In international markets, “Dead Man’s Chest” debuted in the
United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand on Friday, and South
Korea and Thailand on Thursday. Distributor the Walt Disney Co.
will rapidly add more countries in coming weeks.

“Dead Man’s Chest” is a follow-up to summer 2003′s “Pirates
of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl,” which dug up
$654 million worth of box office gold during its long run,
establishing a loyal fan base for the sequel.

Moreover, the movie is one of the last major event films of
the summer, and is opening on a non-holiday Friday, which tends
to draw more people to theaters in a shorter period of time.

Indeed, “Spider-Man” opened on a non-holiday weekend in May
2002. The same is true for the No. 2 debut of “Star Wars:
Episode III — Revenge of the Sith,” which grossed $108.4
million in its first three days, and No. 3 “Shrek 2″ with $108
million. Those films opened in May 2005 and May 2004,
respectively.

Advance ticket sales for “Dead Man’s Chest” were strong.
Movietickets.com reported its sales at three times the rate for
“Spider-Man 2″ in 2004, and Fandango.com said “Dead Man’s
Chest” has sold more tickets on its site than any film before,
surpassing last year’s “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.”

Brandon Gray, president of tracker Boxofficemojo.com,
estimated that the latest “Pirates” debut will top $100
million, but added that even if it doesn’t, the movie will play
strongly during weekdays.

“It is the last event picture of the season, and will have
free rein in theaters for quite some time,” he said.


Source: reuters



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