Plunder it did. "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" grossed an estimated $132 million in its first three days in the North American marketplace, stealing away records from the top openers in boxoffice history: "Spider-Man" and "Star Wars: Episode III -- Revenge of the Sith."
The Buena Vista Pictures PG-13 seafaring tale filled with buccaneers, barroom brawls and the rogue antics of Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow is first feature to earn more than $100 million in its first two days in release. It topped "Sith's" single-day opening record of $50 million, set last year with its $55.5 million Friday take. Equally impressive, "Dead Man's Chest's" overall bounty of $132 million topped "Spider-Man's" opening weekend of $114.8 million set in summer 2002.
If estimates hold true, the weekend's top 12 movies grossed $206.5 million, up 48% compared with the numbers last year, when 20th Century Fox's "Fantastic Four" led the session with an opening gross of $56 million. It marks the seventh consecutive up weekend compared with a year ago and becomes the biggest nonholiday weekend of all time.
Not only did "Dead Man's Chest" jump to the top of the list of all-time, three-day, nonholiday openers, it also easily outdistanced the top four-day holiday weekend openers, led by "X-Men: The Last Stand," which this year grossed $122.9 million domestically in its first four days, and "Spider-Man 2," which grossed $115.8 million in four days last summer.
Buena Vista attributes the success of "Dead Man's Chest" to the mass appeal it had with male and female audiences of all ages.
"This is big, big for our business," Buena Vista Pictures distribution president Chuck Viane said. "The anticipation level for this film was high among all four quadrants. People charged out to see this movie. Even as high as we were on this movie, we never could have put our expectations this high. We are in awe."
The sequel to the 2003 surprise hit, "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl," was expected to be resounding success, but reaching the "Spider-Man" number was seen as a long shot given "Dead Man's Chest's" lengthy 2 1/2 hour runtime and mixed reviews.
The film's mammoth opening didn't squash the competition, either. Warner Bros. Pictures still was able to eke out a solid sophomore session for the PG-13 "Superman Returns," which dropped an average 58% to $21.8 million. The Man of Steel has performed respectably out of the gate but did drop the furthest of any of the top 10 films. With a gross to date of $141.7 million, it will need to hang in there in the coming weeks to shore up a profit considering the more than $200 million spent on the production.