POTC Hauls a Mighty Treasure

Well, summer is well and truly underway now, and so much money got spread around the multiplexes this holiday weekend, it's a wonder anyone had any dough left to fill up their gas tanks. (Go to a movie? Or go to the gas station? With the price of a movie ticket getting you only a couple of gallons, I guess the movies are a better bargain.)

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End had the biggest Memorial Day weekend ever, hauling in $142 million over the four-day weekend ... and if you add in the $14 million the film earned during Thursday-night advanced screenings, it's up to $156 million. Still, it wasn't quite as much as the second Pirates flick earned last July. That doesn't surprise me -- and I'm surprised the film did as well as it did, actually -- because I was at a Saturday afternoon show at a destination theater in Manhattan (Clearview's Ziegfeld) and the theater was nowhere near full. On the other hand, I encountered the exact same situation with an opening-weekend showing of Dead Man's Chest, and that one broke records, too.

Just as an aside, I liked the film even more the second time around than I did the first time, saw all new levels of depth and intrigue in it. So if you enjoyed it like I did, you might enjoy it even more if it gave it another look.

In other blockbuster news, Shrek the Third and Spider-Man 3 hung on rather decently, earning, respectively, $69 million and $18 million, which represents drops of only 43 and 38 percent from the previous weekend.

But the real story of the weekend is how well so many little films did. The grownup horror film Bug barely made a splash, earning a paltry $4.2 million at 1,661 venues, but the bittersweet and melancholy Waitresss was right behind it, earning $4 million on far fewer screens: 510. The second-best per-screen average of the weekend, behind POTC's astonishing $32,566, goes to the anime Paprika, on only two screens but earning $22,800 on each of them. The Irish musical Once was third, earning $21,650 on each of 20 screens.

That says to me that there's plenty of good stuff to go around, whether you're looking for fantasy action or indie romance. It's an excellent jumping-off point for the summer season for us moviegoers.

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MaryAnn Johanson (email me)

reviews, reviews, reviews! at FlickFilosopher.com