UPDATED: Wow, these brawls rarely come out into the open. First, I received a statement from Sony Pictures Entertainment, and then later today, a statement from Disney. Sony’s first: “While Disney and the filmmakers of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End deserve their due on a remarkable opening worldwide, there are some irregularities in their claim regarding record-setting. There are at least two territories, Italy and France, where Buena Vista International opened the film on Tuesday — in essence adding a seventh day of grosses into Pirates’ “six day record”. While there may or may not be other territories that opened prior to Wednesday, we believe that as more and more day-and-date releases enter the marketplace, there should be a consistent standard in international box office reporting. This issue is larger than an opening week box office statistic. For the record, Spider-Man 3 grossed $418.1M in its first seven days of release worldwide with $256.7M generated from territories overseas and $161.4M accumulated in box office receipts from North America.”
Now Disney’s: “By any measure, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End clearly and deservedly holds the new record for a six-day opening at the global box office. A limited number of evening previews were held in Italy and France prior to the official opening day in those countries, but the grosses from those previews amounted to only $1.4M of the total. In the international marketplace, it is customary and common practice to include evening previews in the following opening day numbers. We are enormously proud of Pirates record-breaking worldwide opening gross of $404M. We look forward to the film’s subsequent openings in China and India.”
But the Disney statement still leaves a lot of questions unanswered: Did they hold previews in other countries? (Sony didn’t do previews for Spider-Man 3). How many screens in Italy constitute “limited”. (It’s believed that P3 was on a “substantial” number of the top national screens.)
Sony’s anger comes after Disney announced its Pirates 3 “shattered” global box office records with an unprecedented 6-day opening of $404M and claimed a record international opening gross of $251M in 102 international territories on an unprecedented 17,500 screens as well. Disney reports record-breaking industry openings in 17 territories: Argentina, Ecuador, Holland, Iceland, Israel, Japan, Korea, Latvia, Malaysia, Norway, Panama, Russia, Slovenia, Spain, Taiwan, Ukraine, Venezuela.
Sony isn’t questioning P3‘s new domestic milestone of the all-time biggest 4-day gross for a Memorial Day or any holiday weekend of $139.8M. Just the foreign and global #s. (Domestically, the Jack Sparrow third romp lagged behind the Peter Parker third thriller: P3‘s 4-day gross didn’t even beat SM3‘s 3-day weekend gross.)
I first heard the muttering on Saturday and asked Disney to clarify what measure it was using to determine its “biggest global opening” record. I was told it was using all Pirates 3‘s global box office since Wednesday and was comparing its first six days with Spidey 3‘s first six days which started Tuesday May 1st but didn’t have the Monday holiday. Disney made sure to clarify that P3 was celebrating the first six days of global opening, not its global opening weekend. (Yeah, these records get that technical.) But the consternation from Sony, which has an understandable interest in protecting Spidey 3‘s records, is that Disney did not open everywhere on Wednesday and in fact opened some territories on Tuesday and counted thosee seven days as six days.