How ‘Pirates’ & ‘Baywatch’ Are Casualties Of Summer Franchise Fatigue At The Domestic B.O. — Monday AM

By Anthony D'Alessandro, Anita Busch

Disney' Paramount

Write-thru Monday AM on UPDATED, Sunday AM: Even though Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales will bust into the top 25 global openings of all time with an estimated $275M by tomorrow, make no mistake: In the United States, this summer is on the verge of serious franchise fatigue, and this is only the beginning.

Alien Covenant
20th Century Fox

Early signs of this crept up last weekend when 20th Century Fox’s Alien: Covenant charted below both its $40M tracking with a $36.1M opening but also its first prequel Prometheus by 29%. And no, we’re not counting Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 as part of the sequel slowdown, as that film will beat its first installment at the domestic B.O. with an estimated running cume through Monday of $337.6M.

After hitting tracking four weeks ago in the $90M-$100M range, Pirates 5 will come in with an estimated $62.6M over three days, and $77M over four days. On a three-day basis, Pirates 5 is -31% from its previous sequel On Stranger Tides six years ago, and on a four-day-basis, -34% from At World’s End a decade years ago. Meanwhile, Paramount tried to start a new R-rated comedy series with Baywatchand that deep-sixed with $22.5M over four-days and $27M to $27.7M over five days off a negative cost in high-$60M range.

How can two movies that excelled in their testing underperform stateside?


In the case of Pirates 5, I hear that the movie had the highest test scores in the history of the series. Once audiences get into the movie, they seem to be enjoying it with an A- CinemaScore, higher than the B+ of On Stranger Tides and in line with the second title Dead Man’s Chest and At World’s End, and an 82% positive score. The franchise is still fresh abroad, and given its glorious overseas opening, the movie will certainly be profitable for Disney with an anticipated final global haul of $800M-$900M.

Meanwhile, Baywatch tested over a 91 three times. In all fairness to Disney, the stakes were higher here for Paramount: It needed a home run to start the summer but came in 48% below tracking. Pirates 5 was only $5M off the low end of the $80M Disney was expecting this weekend.


Insiders close to both films blame Rotten Tomatoes, with Pirates 5 and Baywatch respectively earning 32% and 19% Rotten. The critic aggregation site increasingly is slowing down the potential business of popcorn movies. Pirates 5 and Baywatch aren’t built for critics but rather general audiences, and once upon a time these types of films — a family adventure and a raunchy R-rated comedy — were critic-proof. Many of those in the industry severely question how Rotten Tomatoes computes the its ratings, and the fact that these scores run on Fandango (which owns RT) is an even bigger problem.

Both Pirates 5 and Baywatch started high on tracking four weeks ago, $90M-$100M over four and $50M over five days respectively, and the minute Rotten Tomatoes hit, those estimates collapsed. Over the weekend, I heard that some studio insiders want to hold off critic screenings until opening day or cancel them all together (that’s pretty ambitious and would cause much ire, we’ll see if that ever happens). Already, studios and agencies are studying RT scores’ impact on advance ticket sales and tracking.

“There’s just not a great date on the calendar to open a poorly reviewed movie,” said one studio marketing vet this morning.

There were also other complications with Pirates 5 and Baywatch. Arguably, Pirates’ marketing seemed to be a blur with all of its previous sequels. This clearly wasn’t Jack Sparrow’s Skyfall. Some disagree with that, saying that Disney did its best to distinguish the film, selling it on the rivalry between Jack Sparrow and Javier Bardem’s Captain Salazar. Many point to Johnny Depp’s depreciating public image amid his personal problems as a factor for the slowdown stateside, not to mention its his same old shtick onscreen; this also was an excuse last year for why Alice Through the Looking Glass cracked, making only $300M worldwide off a $170M negative cost. One marketing executive felt that Disney did a great job trying to make Depp likable again by having him surprise guests on the Pirates of the Caribbean Disneyland ride back in April. However, the biggest reason tracking estimates dropped on this movie was the sour reviews. And when you’re coming off a previous sequel that critics didn’t like, you truly need an awesome movie to reverse the B.O. tides.


On the bright side for Disney, it crossed the $1 billion mark this weekend at the domestic B.O., the first studio to do so this year. It gives props to Pirates 5 for pushing it over that mark, though Beauty and the Beast ($500.6M) and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 ($333.2M through Sunday) and this year’s carryover of 2016’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story ($123.9M) combined to rep $957.7M worth of 2017’s business for the Burbank-based studio.

The onus for making Baywatch stemmed from the fact that it was one of the world’s most-watched TV shows around the globe. But the brand comes with a lot of baggage. First off, it’s a guilty pleasure and cheesy, and it’s inherently sexist. All of these factors proved a challenge for Paramount when tailoring trailers (if positioning wasn’t right, the results would flatline). Another problem: Most under 25 aren’t familiar with Baywatch as a TV show. That demo turned out at 45%  and enjoyed the movie (A-), but they didn’t show up in great numbers. More females showed up (52%) than guys (48%) as Paramount sold the comedy on its beefcake assets and not its babes, yielding a lower turnout among older males.

Let’s not forget, Baywatch was always a guy property. So why did 21 Jump Street work again? It’s a less complicated brand than Baywatch. And even though Mission: Impossible broke through in 1996 in regards to TV adaptations on the big screen, 21 Jump Street broke the mold as far as a cop show being completely re-imagined as a comedy. We’re in different box office times now for comedies. Also as the old saying goes, dying is easy, comedy is hard, and it’s becoming more impossible to launch comedies in today’s theatrical landscape. Just ask Ben Stiller and Adam Sandler.

— Anthony D’Alessandro Sunday AM with Anita Busch Write-thru on Monday AM

Studio reported figures as of Sunday AM for Memorial Day weekend 2017:
1.). Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales  (DIS), 4,276 theaters / $23.3M Fri. (includes $5.5M previews) / $20.3M Sat. / $18.5M Sun. / $14.4M Mon. / 3-day cume: $62.6M / 4-day: $77M / Wk 1

2.). The Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 (DIS), 3,871 theaters (-476) / $5.3M Fri.(-39%) / $7.8M Sat. / $7.5M Sun. / $4.5M Mon. to $6M / 3-day cume: $20.6M (-43%) / 4-day: $25M to $27M / Total: $338M / Wk 4

3.). Baywatch (FOX), 3,647 theaters / $5.7M Fri. / $6.6M Sat. / $6.2M Sun. / $4.6M Mon. / 3-day cume: $18.45M / 4-day: $22.5M / Total: $27M to $27.7M / Wk 1 (Wednesday bow)

4.). Alien: Covenant (FOX), 3,772 theaters (+11) / $3M Fri. / $3.9M Sat. / $3.7M Sun. / $2.6M Mon. / 3-day cume: $10.7M (-70%) / 4-day: $13.3M / Total: $60M+ / Wk 2

5.). Everything, Everything (WB/MGM), 2,801 theaters / $2M Fri. / $2.2M Sat. / $1.79M Sun. / $1.5M Mon. / 3-day cume: $5.98M (-49%) / 4-day: $7.4M / Total: $22.7M / Wk 2

6.). Diary Of A Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul (FOX), 3,174 theaters (+17) / $1.3M Fri. / $1.7M Sat. / $1.5M Sun. / Mon. $1.5M / 3-day cume: $4.47M (-37%) / 4-day: $5.9M / Total: $15M / Wk 2

7.). Snatched (FOX), 2,658 theaters (-853) / $1M Fri. /$1.5M Sat. / $1.36M Sun. / $1.1M Mon. / 3-day cume: $3.8M (-50%) / 4-day:$4.9M / Total: $41.1M / Wk 3

8.). King Arthur: Legend Of The Sword (WB/VR), 2,503 theaters (-1,199) / $875K  Fri. /$1.2M Sat. / $1.1M Sun. / $930K Mon. / 3-day cume: $3.2M (-55%) / 4-day:$4.1M / Total: $34.8M / Wk 3

9.) The Boss Baby (Fox) 1,342 (-729), $415K Fri. / $660K Sat. / $640K Sun. / $650K Mon. / 3-day: $1.7M (-40%) / 4-day: $2.3M / Total: $169.6M / Wk 9

10). The Beauty and the Beast (DIS), 1,076 theaters (-716) / $350K Fri. /$649K Sat. / $523K Sun. / $410K Mon. / 3-day cume: $1.5M (-43%) / 4-day: $1.9M Total cume: $500.9MWk 11

Write-thru 8:18 AM Saturday off 9:56 PM Friday Update: Memorial Day weekend at the box office — remember when it actually used to have some significance?

Ever since Sony moved the start of summer to the first weekend in May with 2002’s Spider-Man ($114.8M), it has arguably never been the same, with bigger films launching in the first corridor of the month and sucking up all the air at the B.O. (case in point: This weekend, Disney/Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is beating Paramount’s Baywatch for second place with an estimated $20.3M to $20.6M over 3-days and $26.5M to $26.8M over 4-days in its fourth frame).

However, the problem with this holiday stretch in recent years isn’t because moviegoers have abandoned it for beaches and barbecues, rather it’s due to the lackluster product that’s out there from offbeat I.P. to dull Nth sequels –i.e. Prince of Persia, Tomorrowland, Alice Through the Looking Glass, Baywatch and the blasé turnout for X-Men: Apocalypse and now this year’s Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales which at a $230M negative cost before P&A is coming in well below its $80M-$85M projections with $62.7M to $63.7M over 3-days and $76M to $78M. Each year we stand here and look ahead thinking next year’s goods are going to reverse this soft Memorial Day trend. Fingers crossed for Disney/Lucasfilm’s Han Solo Star Wars anthology movie next year.

Let’s start with Pirates: Even though stateside this is the second lowest opening of the series, charting below the fourth installment On Stranger Tides ($90.1M), by the time Sunday arrives, I hear Disney will be fine with this movie on a global basis, which looks to come in between $250M-$260M. The pic’s buckling here in U.S./Canada stems strictly from — what’s new? The movie in its marketing looks exactly like the other four titles which are all a blur plot-wise, and the only film the critics love in the franchise is the first one at 79% fresh. Dead Men Tell No Tales has 32% which is equal to On Stranger Tides‘s RT score, both the lowest for the franchise.

Disney never bothered to fix this franchise in the same way that they ensure that Marvel, Lucasfilm, and their animated fare win over both audiences and reviewers. What’s going on here with Dead Men Tell No Tales that distinguishes it from its predecessors and makes it a want-to-see? Story-wise, it sure isn’t Jack Sparrow’s Skyfall.  Those buying tickets seem to have no regrets, giving it an A- CinemaScore, which is higher than the B+ of On Stranger Tides, and in line with the second title Dead Man’s Chest and At World’s End. Disney is expecting a pop tomorrow from family matinees.

But again, Pirates will win overseas, and in building this ship, Disney knew that, and probably was bracing for domestic to under-perform. After On Stranger Tides came up short with the lowest domestic total in the series at $241M (and this sequel likely lower), Disney propelled that fourthquel to an amazing $1.045 billion take. China is the market that will get Dead Men Tell No Tales over its hump as Nancy Tartaglione pointed out in our curtain raiser, and it definitely helps that Disney held the world premiere there, the first ever for a Hollywood title. The fifthquel is a fresher franchise abroad in burgeoning cinematic markets, and that’s what the upside is here.

Dead Men Tell No Tales drew 51% men to 49% women. Those under 18 at 20% gave the movie an A. Forty percent came out for Johnny Depp per CinemaScore, grading it an A-, while 42% came out for subject matter and 38% for type of movie, which indicates that Pirates fans came out for this.

But maybe the industry just needs to look at the possibility that movie audiences may have been franchised to death.

On the bright side for Disney, Beauty and the Beast will become the eighth title in domestic B.O. history to cross $500M (by Sunday) and also Sunday, GOTG2 will have officially beaten its predecessor’s U.S./Canada total ($333.1M).

Baywatch isn’t bailing out Paramount after an atrocious 2017 at the domestic B.O. that includes xXx: The Return of Xander Cage, Monster Trucks, Rings and Ghost in the Shell. Tracking had this movie over 5 days in the $40M range, maybe even hitting $50M, and this Dwayne Johnson-Zac Efron combo is going to come in with $24.8 to $25M+ over five days, just a tad higher than the three-day for Neighbors 2:Sorority Rising ($21.8M opening/$55.4M domestic). Baywatch is close to twice the price of Neighbors 2, which carried a negative cost before P&A of $35M.

So after the Super Bowl spot, all the rah-rah at CinemaCon (the Paramount presentation fell flat with exhibitors), the “fun” trailers, why did Baywatch sink? Some attribute it to how TV properties have become harder to adapt for the big screen, the last casualty being Dax Shepard’s low budget version of CHiPs at $18.6M domestic, but even riskier was that Paramount took a general audience action series from the 1990s and turned into an R-rated movie. But the biggest oversight by Paramount, according to sources is that they sold Baywatch primarily to women in its beefcakes of Johnson and Efron and not the guys. Remember, Baywatch was always a guy show, its poster girl being Pamela Anderson. So where’s the poster girl, here?

Dwayne Johnson in an R-rated action movie seems to be his sweet spot, so maybe this R-rated on-the-beach-with-babes film may have been better suited dropping during Spring Break. Overall, this Paramount/Skydance picture garnered a B+ Cinemascore, with the core audience split in terms of gender with 48% male and 52% female. And 45% of the audience 25 and under gave the film an A-.

Baywatch will open in 32 international markets, representing 65% of its ultimate foreign footprint.

Filing fourth is 20th Century Fox’s Alien: Covenant with an estimated $12.3M over 3-days (-66%) and $13.75M over four for a running total of $60.5M by end of Monday.

1). Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales  (DIS), 4,276 theaters / $23.4M Fri. (includes $5.5M previews) / 3-day cume: $62.7M to $63.7M / 4-day: $76M to $78M / Wk 1

2). The Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 (DIS), 3,871 theaters (-476) / $5.3M Fri.(-39%) / 3-day cume: $20.3M to $20.6M  (-41%) / 4-day: $26.5M to $26.8M /  Total: $339.9M / Wk 4

3). Baywatch (PAR), 3,647 theaters / $5.7M Fri. / 3-day cume: $16.5M to $17M / 4-day: $20M to $21M / Total: $24.8M to $25.8M / Wk 1 Wednesday bow

4). Alien: Covenant (FOX), 3,772 theaters (+11) / $3M Fri. (-80%) / 3-day cume: $11M (-69%) / 4-day: $13.75M / Total: $60.5M / Wk 2

5). Everything, Everything (WB/MGM), 2,801 theaters / $2M Fri. (-57%) / 3-day cume: $6.8M to $7.5M (-34%) / 4-day: $8.5M to $9.7M / Total: $24M to $25M / Wk 2

6). Diary Of A Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul (FOX), 3,174 theaters (+17) / $1.28M Fri. (-36%) / 3-day cume: $4.8M (-32%) / 4-day: $6.47M / Total: $15.6M / Wk 2

7). Snatched (FOX), 2,658 theaters (-853) / $1M Fri. (-54%) / 3-day cume: $3.9M (-49%) / 4-day: $4.87M to $5.2M / Total: $41M+ / Wk 3

8). King Arthur: Legend Of The Sword (WB/VR), 2,503 theaters (-1,199) / $870K (-56%) Fri. / 3-day cume: $3.29M (-54%) / 4-day: $4.18M to $4.24M / Total: $34.8M / Wk 3

9). The Boss Baby (Fox) 1,342 (-729), $425K Fri (-28%) / 3-day: $1.6M to $2M (-42%) / 4-day: $2.2M to $2.8M / Total: $169.4M to $170.1M / Wk 9

10). The Fate Of The Furious (UNI), 1,358 theaters (-929) / $470K Fri. (-55%) / 3-day cume: $1.47M (-56%) / 4-day: $1.85M Total cume: $222.9MWk 7

Anthony D’Alessandro with write-thru update by Anita Busch

UPDATED, Friday 12:10 PM: Matinee grosses are starting to come in and so far the fifth installment of Disney’s, Jerry Bruckheimer and Johnny Depp’s Pirates franchise is playing well. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales is on track to take in about $24M to $26M today — that includes the $5.5M it grossed in previews last night. So that means that right now, it’s estimated to take around $65M for the three-day with a four-day weekend of right around $75M to $80M. On the flipside, Paramount Pictures’ R-rated hopeful Baywatch may only take in $6.5M to $7M today with a four-day holiday of $23M to $24M and a five-day cume right around what we said this AM: $27M to $29M. Baywatch is stuck in the sand, playing slow in its first two nights of evening play so grosses might even dip lower. Will see how it plays tonight but so far it’s not seeing any big audience play on that rating.

The holdovers Marvel/Disney’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 may end up with a three-day take of $19M and a four-day around $24M while Fox and Ridley Scott’ s Alien: Covenant may take in anywhere between $13M and $14M for the weekend and $17M by the end of the four-day holiday. – Anita Busch

UPDATED, 8:33 AM: Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales took to the sea last night with $5.5M at 7 PM in previews and now sets sail in 4,276 theaters tonight  So where does that stand? Pirates‘ previews were ahead of the $4.2M preview grosses for both The Jungle Book (which opened in April, 2016) and Maleficent (which opened for the Memorial Day holiday, 2014). Still looking at $80M to $85M for the four-day, although it is very, very early right now. Overseas, the film is hitting at No. 1 in each market. For more on that, read, Nancy Tartaglione’s international report today.

Paramount Pictures’ Baywatch‘s first day on the beach earned an estimated $4.5M (which includes $1.25M from Wednesday’s previews), according to two industry estimates, as the Memorial Day weekend goes full swing tonight. The R-rated feature based on the TV show which stars Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and Zac Efron, is now in 3,647 theaters. Not a great start.

Disney can also celebrate as its live-action musical Beauty and the Beast is hovering just under the $500M mark domestically after last night’s audience pushed it to $499M. Also, look for MGM/Warner Bros.’ Everything, Everything to hold well in its second weekend of play as the young females audience will keep its grosses up and when they come to the theater, it’s usually in packs.

In terms of production cost, Baywatch is in the high$60M range and was hoping for a $40M four-day weekend (it looks now to do less, like $28M) while Pirates should double that estimate that are around $80M-$85M on a budget of about $230M. It is also opening overseas and those numbers are just coming in. With the UK box office in turmoil due to to the horrific terrorist attack (probably down about 20%), the top territories looks to be France and likely South Korea.

In 2007, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End opened to $114.7M for the three day and $139.8M to become the biggest four-day Memorial Day opener on 4,362 locales. If this fifth in the Disney and Jerry Bruckheimer franchise opens to between $80M and $85M, then it will off just a smidgen from the opening of the last film Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides which grabbed $90.15M in 4,164 theaters. Overseas, Stranger Tides ended up with $804.6M or roughly 77% of the total gross which topped $1B.

Stranger Tides reportedly brought in $4.7M in previews and X-Men: Apocalypse tallied $8.2M from previews last Memorial Day, before settling in with a $79.8M four-day gross in 4,153 theaters.

Both pictures are doing exceptionally well on social media, but not too good with the critics who may be just out of step with the moviegoing audience. However, Baywatch got just a B+ CinemaScore last night (same as King Arthur did when it bowed) and Pirates rating from its core audience is yet to come.

–Anita Busch

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