Long Strange Trip

Two seafaring blockbusters set sail this Memorial Day weekend, as Disney’s fifth Pirates of the Caribbean installment squares off against the action-comedy Baywatch, a contemporary (and, by critical accounts, quite raunchy) reimagining of the classic television series of the same name.

Will both of these ride the tide of success over the holiday frame, or will they sink to the depths of box office failure? Check out EW’s predictions below.

It’s been six years since Disney dipped its toes into the salty brine ofthe Pirates of the Caribbean, and after 2011’s On Stranger Tides became the franchise’s lowest-grossing entry in North America to date, the studio is aiming a bit lower the fifth time around, with Dead Men Tell No Tales expected to open to roughly $80 million over its first four days in 4,276 theaters.

If that prediction proves to be accurate, Dead Men Tell No Tales will register the series’ second-worst opening to date (The Curse of the Black Pearl made $46 million over its first weekend), though it should have no trouble earning at least double its $230 million production costs in the weeks ahead, as the film opens day-and-date in 91 percent of the international market, with the only major territory on deck being Japan, where it won’t open until July 1.

Disney previously launched At World’s End — the third Pirates film — over the same Memorial Day period in 2007; it earned $139.8 million en route to a $963 million global take. Overall, the four Pirates films have earned more than $3.7 billion worldwide, and Dead Men Tell No Tales should push the collection well past the $4 billion mark through the summer.

2: Baywatch – $30 million

Scathing reviews be damned, Baywatch could breathe life into the Memorial Day box office this weekend, as its star, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, has consistently proven himself a mainstay draw with global audiences; seven of his last 10 major theatrical releases have grossed in excess of $100 million in the U.S. and Canada.

Wednesday previews for the film, which is now playing at 3,647 locations as a means for Paramount to get a jump start on Disney’s Pirates juggernaut, brought in a soft $1.3 million, comparable to such titles as We’re the Millers ($26.4 million opening) and Let’s Be Cops ($17.8 million opening), which bowed to $1.7 million and $1.2 million in the middle of the week in 2013 and 2014, respectively. The May 26-29 period could go either way for the $65 million-plus feature, as comedy has hit a rough patch in recent months (Snatched, the last major studio comedy to bow in wide release, came just shy of hitting the $20 million mark over its debut).

With a likable cast including Johnson, Zac Efron, and Priyanka Chopra guiding the way and a robust marketing campaign driving strong social media traffic (according to Box Office Pro, the film has seen more Facebook activity than 21 Jump Street and Central Intelligence), Baywatch is poised to make waves in the days ahead, perhaps in excess of $30 million.

3: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – $25 million

At $739 million worldwide after only three weeks on the big screen, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is just under $40 million away from leaping past the first film, which ended its run with $773 million worldwide in 2014. The Marvel tentpole has cooled significantly since its red-hot $146.5 million opening, and it continues to slide down the top five, shedding between 45 percent and 55 percent from week one to week three, positioning itself for a $23 million-$26 million holiday gross in the coming days.

4: Alien: Covenant – $18 million

Though it fell short of its forerunners’ box office glory (Scott’s last entry in the Alien franchise, Prometheus, posted $51 million across its first three-day frame in 2012), Alien: Covenant still performed well given that it’s the sixth installment in an aging series that launched all the way back in 1979. To have legs this long that have stretched this far into the future is an achievement in itself, even if Covenant likely won’t cross the $100 million mark in North America by the end of its run.

Still, the $97 million film has drawn positive reviews and has pushed past the $130 million worldwide as of Thursday, a healthy sign for its long-haul prospects. Its second week on domestic screens, however, will see a sharp decline as Pirates 5 and Baywatch funnel moviegoers away from the Katherine Waterston-starring sci-fi thriller, which, given its status as a blockbuster sequel, was already looking at an on-trend drop in the 50-60 percent range anyway. Look for Covenant to finish the Memorial Day weekend with around $16 million-$20 million through Monday.

5: Everything, Everything – $8 million

With a solid $11.7 million debut already in the books, this teen romance (itself adapted from, well, a book) starring Amandla Stenberg should hold audience attention across its second go-round in wide release, with little competition (it’s the only youth-focused YA adaptation in wide release) in its way. Expect this literary adaptation to pull in roughly $7 million-$9 million over the four-day stretch.

Outside the top five, Amazon is prepping to launch its Grateful Dead documentary Long Strange Trip in limited release, where it should pull in decent numbers thanks to the band’s rabid fandom and enthusiastic critical reviews likely fueling interest in the lengthy (it boasts a 235-minute runtime) yet worthwhile (by journalists’ accounts) project.

Long Strange Trip
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