They pillaged, they plundered, they rifled and sacked, but after a Memorial Day victory on the cinematic high seas, have the Pirates of the Caribbean earned the right to lie back and drink up? Not yet.
A lot of ink has been spilled over the last few days on a fight of sorts between Sony and Disney over who rightfully owns the record for biggest worldwide six-day opening in history: "Spider-Man 3" or "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End." (Yes, they get that specific. No, nobody outside Los Angeles cares.)
But the ultimate question this weekend isn't whether Jack Sparrow and company can beat the webbed one — or even the green one (a.k.a. "Shrek the Third"), for that matter. The question is whether they can beat themselves.
The second installment in the blockbuster trilogy, "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest," fell 54 percent in its second weekend to pull in $62.4 million, a holding all the more remarkable considering "Dead Man's Chest" boasted the biggest opening weekend in history. A similar drop-off for "At World's End" would net the franchise approximately $53 million, a chest of doubloons even the swarthiest buccaneer could appreciate (see " 'Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World's End' Sails To #1 With $142 Million").
For the first time in a long time, however, a blockbuster will face competition from legitimate counter-programming. This weekend, two R-rated (not arrr-rated, unfortunately) flicks open in wide release: "Knocked Up" (see "Seth Rogen, Judd Apatow Rave About 'Knocked Up' Sex Scenes, Britney Spears") and "Mr. Brooks."
While "Mr. Brooks" star Kevin Costner hasn't opened a movie above $20 million since — are you ready for it? — "Waterworld" in 1995, and Judd Apatow's previous adult comedy, "The 40-Year-Old Virgin," opened at only $21.4, they both come uniquely positioned on the heels of week-after-ever-loving-week of threequels. We wouldn't put it past every single parent in this country to finally use these flicks as an excuse to leave the kiddies at home.
Will "Pirates" once again broadside the competition, or will "Mr. Brooks" and "Knocked Up" send Jack Sparrow over the plank? We asked our box-office experts to find out.
The Predictions: "Yo, ho, ho, a pirates' life for me." And for you, and your friends, and half the country apparently — but not for Eli Roth! The "Hostel: Part II" director might find that he's the one being tortured come Monday, but great rewards only come with great risks, and we applaud Mr. Roth for picking against "Pirates." (Even if we think he'd be the perfect director to make a hyper-violent Blackbeard flick. Can you imagine the keelhaul scene?) Check back next week to see if he's correct, or if he's earned the black spot.
What's the #1 flick? How much will it rake in?
Josh Horowitz, MTV Movies editor: "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" ($46 million)
"Ahoy, maties! I see more booty for the pirate lot this fair weekend. OK, I can't speak pirate, but apparently moviegoers wish they could judging by the flick's insane record-breaking weekend. It'll fade quite a bit from last week but not enough for 'Knocked Up' to overtake it. (Don't cry for that one, though: Word of mouth is going take care of it for a long while.) How's about $46 million? There's a nice random number for you. You thought this was a science?"
Larry Carroll, MTV News writer: "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" ($55 million)
"Both 'Knocked Up' and 'Mr. Brooks' may be better movies, but I still have no doubt that Jack Sparrow and the rest of the pirates will once again rule the roost. I'm predicting $55 million more in weekend booty, good enough for first place."
Eli Roth, "Hostel: Part II" director: "Knocked Up" ($31 million)
"I think 'Knocked Up' could win the weekend. You think 'Pirates' in its second weekend because 'Pirates' is such a monster. There's no stopping that movie. It's also the kind of film that kids will see again and again. But I think there's a lot of good will towards Seth Rogen and Judd Apatow from '40-Year-Old Virgin' and, you know, we need a good comedy. Everybody loves a good comedy. We haven't had one in a couple weeks. I think 'Knocked Up' could do it."
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