‘Pirates’ takes down the beach bodies of ‘Baywatch’ at the holiday box office

Johnny Depp as Capt. Jack Sparrow in "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales."
(Peter Mountain / Disney Enterprises)

In this battle on the high seas and the beach, “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” overwhelmed “Baywatch” for Memorial Day weekend box office victory.

The fifth installment in the “Pirates” franchise starring Johnny Depp, this time directed by Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg, took in an estimated $77 million at the domestic box office over the four-day weekend, with an estimated global opening of more than $300 million. The franchise total will soon pass $4 billion.

“ ‘Pirates’ is a huge spectacle film, the kind that audiences around the world have been drawn to, certainly international audiences have been drawn to,” said Dave Hollis, executive vice president of distribution for Disney. “We’re making films for a global audience.”

The weekend’s other big title was Paramount’s big-screen adaptation of the television series “Baywatch,” starring Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron and directed by Seth Gordon, which managed to make it only to No. 3 at the box office. The film took in an estimated $23 million, , with an estimated gross of $27.6 million from its Thursday opening.


Dwayne Johnson, left, as Mitch Buchannon and Zac Efron as Matt Brody in the film "Baywatch."
(Frank Masi / Paramount Pictures)

In its fourth weekend of release, Disney’s “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” actually swiped the second place spot from “Baywatch,” bringing in an estimated $25.1 million.

“The movie landscape has been littered with ’80s reboots and remakes that have had a very mixed response,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at industry tracking firm ComScore, who added that the relative silver lining for the Paramount picture’s lackluster opening is that “ ‘Baywatch’ is not the only film in May to not perform well.”

Rounding out the Top 5 were Ridley Scott’s sci-fi actioner “Alien: Covenant” with $13.2 million, bringing its total to almost $60 million, and Stella Meghie’s teen romantic drama “Everything, Everything,” with $7.4 million for a collective gross of $22.7 million.


The overall Memorial Day weekend estimate of $176 million is the lowest since 1999. Last year, with “X-Men: Apocalypse” in the No. 1 slot, the box office came in at more than $205 million, while it was nearly $195 million in 2015.

“This has been one of the toughest kick-off summer months ever,” said Dergarabedian. “The Memorial weekend sort of distills down what audiences thought of the May lineup.”

Rounding out the Top 10 were “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul” with $5.8 million, “Snatched” with $4.9 million, “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword” with $4.1 million, “The Boss Baby” with $2.3 million, “Beauty and the Beast” with $1.9 million and “The Fate of the Furious” with $1.8 million.

Despite the lackluster totals, the industry can pin its hopes on a slate of promising June releases, including “Wonder Woman,” “The Mummy,” “Cars 3,” “Transformers: The Last Knight,” “Baby Driver” and “Despicable Me 3.”


“The good news is we have seen many a summer start off really strong with incredible May performances, only to see the bottom drop out later in the summer. And there is a lot on the way,” said Dergarabedian. “You’re only as up or down as your last hit or failure, and I think for the industry, we just want to get May off the books and get into June.”

SIGN UP for the free Indie Focus movies newsletter »

Follow on Twitter: @IndieFocus