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By DAVID GERMAIN, AP Movie Writer
24 minutes ago
LOS ANGELES - Johnny Depp and his pirate friends pulled in a lot of plunder, but fell far short of a record opening day.
"Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" raked in $43 million domestically Friday, well behind the $59.3 million opening day for "Spider-Man 3" just three weeks earlier, according to studio estimates Saturday.
The numbers for "At World's End" were skewed somewhat because the Walt Disney Co. had preview screenings at about 3,000 theaters Thursday night in advance of the movie's official Friday release.
The movie pulled in $14 million at those screenings, putting its domestic total at $57 million in just over a day. Without the Thursday screenings, much of that business would have been done on Friday instead, putting "At World's End" in range of the top single-day grosses.
"Spider-Man 3," released by Sony Corp (NYSE:SNE - news)., had broken the single-day box-office record of $55.8 million set last July by "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest," part two in the action-comedy franchise starring Depp as boozy buccaneer Jack Sparrow.
"Making $57 million in a day and a half is not bad for a bunch of pirates," said Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracker Media By Numbers. "Had all those preview numbers been folded into Friday, it would have maybe been the second-biggest single day in history."
"At World's End" also grossed $43 million Friday in 102 international markets. That put its worldwide total at $141.2 million since it began rolling out overseas Wednesday.
Despite opening in a record 4,362 theaters, "At World's End" is unlikely to break the all-time high for a three-day weekend, also held by "Spider-Man 3" with $151.1 million, said Chuck Viane, Disney head of distribution.
"Spider-Man 3" snatched the record away from the "Pirates" franchise, which had set a new high of $135.6 million with "Dead Man's Chest."
Viane said the record Disney aimed for is best four-day Memorial Day weekend debut. That record is held by last year's "X-Men: The Last Stand" with $122.9 million.
"At World's End" has a shot at that mark if it maintains its Friday momentum.
"Today's date is what matters," Viane said Saturday. "What matters to me now is how is it going to do today?"
The length of "At World's End" — two hours, 47 minutes, nearly half an hour longer than "Spider-Man 3" — is a factor, limiting the number of screenings theaters can squeeze in each day.
Reviews for "At World's End" were mixed at best, though the same was true for "Dead Man's Chest" and other recent blockbusters including "Spider-Man 3" and "Shrek the Third."
"We always have this disparity between the critics and the commercial," Viane said. "People just love the idea of Johnny as this character and the whole premise of the trilogy coming to an end."
"At World's End," whose Caribbean portions were shot at the same time as "Dead Man's Chest," picks up where the second movie left off, with Depp's Sparrow consigned to Davy Jones' locker and old allies and enemies ( Keira Knightley, Orlando Bloom and Geoffrey Rush) embarking on a voyage to save him.Coming soon Register for life-time membership
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