Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Ten Most Impressive Box Office Runs of 2000s (No. 5)

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)

  - Became the biggest period adventure film of all time with $305m, breaking Raiders of the Lost Ark's 22 years record by 26%
  - Did not have a weekend drop over 37.5% until its 22nd week
  - 5.9 overall multiplier

Predictions Comparison:
  - BOG: $41m; Brandon Gray: $35.8m; BOM Derby: $39.9m

Pirates of the Caribbean is a case of examining the circumstance at the time to truly feel how magnificent the feat is.  Films about pirates had not been popular since early 90s when Spielberg directed Hook to a $120m total, let alone one based a theme-park ride.  Just five days before its release, DreamWorks' Sinbad became the latest victim with a tiny $6.9m opening.  Disney had also seen its share of big-time failure in Treasure Planet ($140m budget, $38m total).  In addition, although The Ring gave director Gore Verbinski more recognition, but it was the first time he took on a big-budget action film, and the budget was big.  The reported $140m figure made many believe it would be one of the bombs of that summer.  Instead, it completely revived the dead genre and triggered a franchise that already grossed over 1 billion dollars in the U.S. (with the fourth film on the way).  Johnny Depp's iconic performance also elevated him to a completely new level in terms of star power.

The opening of Pirates of the Caribbean - $70.6m 5-day, $46.6m weekend - is impressive enough, but where it shined more is its legs.  Action films are not known for endurance, and over 50% drops on the second weekend were already common back in the summer of 2003.  POTC, on the other hand, not only avoided 50% or 40% drop, it held better than even Finding Nemo on their next four respective weekends.  If that is not jaw-dropping, I don't know what else would qualify.  The key is Disney successfully turned it into a family-friendly adventure, making it behave more like a G-rated film than a PG-13 one.  Still, it had to fend off Bad Boys II (action) on week 2 and Spy Kids 3D (family adventure) as well as Tomb Raider 2 (action/adventure) on week 3, so holding as well as it did was certainly no small task and is a testimony of its word-of-mouth, truly one of the very best of the entire decade.

1 comment:

  1. It's very strange why certain movies take off and others totally fail. I remember watching this movie and thinking it was fun, but nothing special at all. Then all of sudden it is the most popular movie. Same thing with Avatar. Popular taste is so fickle and unpredictable. Great movies are ignored, mediocre movies are championed and worshiped.