Pirates Are Looking To Loot Spider-Man And Shrek, In Projection Booth

Jerry Springer gives his 'Final Thought' on this weekend's box office.

For all the record-breaking going on this May, we might as well christen 2007 as "The Year of the Pencil." Just three weeks after "Spider-Man 3" weaved its tangled web, slinging to the top of the box office, and one week after "Shrek the Third" lined its ogre-size coffer with a haul worthy of King Arthur himself, "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" gets released — which means it's no doubt time to once again break out the erasers and rewrite the history books. Thank goodness I didn't write those records in permanent ink.

After "Dead Man's Chest" lost the best-weekend-ever crown to Spidey, Captain Jack and the rest of the crew are on a voyage to capture it back, even if it means a little Thursday plunder. The film will open at 8 p.m. Thursday night (May 24) — an unusual move, but one that, coupled with the Memorial Day holiday, will essentially give it a four and a half day weekend.

It's not only possible but darn near probable, then, that come Tuesday, three of the top four highest-grossing weekends ever will belong to films opening this May. Here's how crazy it's gotten: Only twice in history have two movies opened to more than $100 million in the same year. We're about to get three in the same month. Savvy?

Don't understand what we're getting at? Then you're ready for "Pirates." Already derided in some circles as needlessly confusing, the series promises to get even more complicated before all is said and done. "At World's End" has to wrap up about a dozen or so outstanding plot lines, plus introduce three or four new characters (see " 'At World's End' Guide: A Bossy Parrot, 'Sad Pajamas' And One Badass Little Person").

But does bigger necessarily mean better? Ask most fans of "Spider-Man" or "Shrek" and they'll tell you that the third installment of those series were, at best, minor disappointments. "Pirates," at last, seems poised to reverse that trend, though it's likely also true that the series will never again enjoy the same sort of goodwill it earned the first time we saw Johnny Depp's surprising performance.

Still, you can't beat a good swashbuckling yarn. It's wise, then, that few films are even daring to try. The William Friedkin-directed horror flick "Bug," starring Ashley Judd, will bow in 1,660 theaters. A good idea at counter-programming? It might as well walk the plank now.

While we're proud of ourselves for avoiding the obvious pun so far, we admit it was only because we were saving it for now: So how much "booty" will "Pirates" make? We asked our experts to weigh in.

The Predictions: It's a no-brainer, of course, that "Pirates" will win the weekend, but asking experts by how much is inviting a catfight. So who better to mediate than Jerry Springer? We caught up with the provocative tabloid host and former Democratic mayor of Cincinnati (seriously!) at the "American Idol" finale to ask his "Final Thought" on the upcoming box-office weekend. And even though he had a little fun at our expense, we rest easy knowing he didn't throw a chair.

What's the #1 flick? How much will it rake in?

Josh Horowitz, MTV Movies editor: "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" ($160 million)

"Man, it seems like numbers are kind of meaningless these days. Every weekend another box-office record is summarily trounced. I never cease to marvel at how big the ginormous blockbusters are. As big as 'Shrek' and 'Spidey' are, I have to think 'Pirates' is going to beat them both. I mean, at least with this one, it's being billed as the final part. So yo, ho, ho, one more time Johnny Depp and company, and may the ghost of 'Cutthroat Island' stay far, far, away from you."

Larry Carroll, MTV News writer: "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" ($185 million)

"For the third time in the last four weeks, it isn't so much predicting what movie will win the box office as guessing what kind of huge box-office returns it will take in. If 'Spider-Man 3' were averaging nearly $50 million a day, I see no reason why Jack Sparrow couldn't do the same — especially since these movies are a bit more family-friendly. I'll deduct a little bit just so I won't make the insane prediction of a $200 million weekend, and guess that these 'Pirates' will grab a $185 million booty over the four-day weekend."

Jerry Springer, "The Jerry Springer Show" host: "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" ($127 million)

"I don't know how to spell 'Caribbean,' but ['Pirates' will win] because it's the first one you said!"

Check out everything we've got on "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End," "Spider-Man 3," "Shrek the Third" and "Bug."

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