It's shaping up to be a big holiday weekend at the box office.
With Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and Alien: Covenant already in place to continue their hauls at the box office, newcomers Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales and Baywatch are set to dominate the ticket sales.
Analyst predictions put the fifth installment of Disney's Pirates franchise in first place, opening in 4,276 theaters, to an projected $80 million from Friday through Monday. The international release, which kicks off a couple of days earlier, is expected to bring $150 million to $175 million.
Baywatch is expected to perform well despite the unpleasant reviews the film has been subjected to. The Paramount feature is expected to bring in about $40 million over the holiday weekend in about 3,500 theaters. With a budget estimated to have climbed up to the $65 million range, it will serve as a strong opening to the summer comedy's run.
Pirates 5 returns Johnny Depp to his iconic Jack Sparrow role, with Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightly returning to the franchise after absences in the previous film. Baywatch brings global mega-star Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson together with eye-candy actor Zac Efron and a slew of models under the direction of Seth Gordon.
On the heels of Alien: Covenant's lackluster opening weekend, the big numbers for Baywatch and Pirates are putting theater owners and studios at a bit of ease. It was just last week when analysts were predicting the worst summer box office in 10 years based on the low expectations for Ridley Scott's new Alien film and the bomb that is King Arthur.
"Though 2013's record breaking $314.7 million Memorial weekend led by Fast & Furious 6 is in no jeopardy of losing its crown, the one-two punch of the very summer-appropriate and very R-rated Baywatch combined with Johnny Depp's return as Jack Sparrow along with a new villain in the form of Javier Bardem in the fifth installment of the Pirates franchise could give the weekend a chance to flex its box-office muscles and narrow the gap vs. last year," Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at comScor, said. "This could build momentum leading into the highly anticipated and much buzzed about release of 'Wonder Woman' on June 2 and a cadre of big titles set for release in that month and beyond," Dergarabedian concluded.0comments
By comparison to a year ago, the box office is still holding on to a 2.5% increase.