Memorial Day weekend would seem like the best time for a big summer blockbuster to hit the theaters, but in recent years audiences have been focusing more on their tans and grillmaster skills over the holiday than going to a movie theater.
Past Memorial Day holiday weekend openings that were instant fails at the box office include: “Tomorrowland” ($33 million opening weekend), “Alice Through the Looking Glass” ($26.8 million), and “X-Men: Apocalypse” ($65.7 million). Now you can add two new releases from this year to that list.
Disney’s “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” will win the holiday weekend, but the studio won’t be bragging about it. The fifth movie in the franchise headlined by Johnny Depp will take in an estimated $62 million ($77 million by the end of the four-day weekend), according to Exhibitor Relations. That’s below its industry projections of $80 million to $85 million.
It’s also the lowest opening for a “Pirates” movie since the first one, 2003’s “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl” ($46.6 million).
Made for around $200 million (counting marketing), it looks like the movie is doing better overseas, with it taking over $200 million worldwide.
Paramount’s R-rated comedy movie version of the legendary “Baywatch” TV show did even worse domestically than “Pirates,” even though it had star power like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Zac Efron. Going into the weekend with a horrid 19% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, the movie only earned an estimated $18 million ($22 million by Monday) to come in third place.
That led to Disney/Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” earning the second place spot over the weekend with $24.2 million by the end of Memorial Day, though the movie has been in theaters for four weeks.
The performance of “Pirates” and “Baywatch” domestically is the latest examples that studios are not bringing out their top material over Memorial Day weekend, or just staying clear of it. Business was down 15% from last year (big releases then were “X-Men: Apocalypse” and “Alice Through the Looking Glass”).
But there’s always a silver lining. “Wonder Woman” opens next weekend, and should have a huge opening weekend.