Critic’s Notebook
Avast, Me Critics! Ye Kill the Fun: Critics and the Masses Disagree About Film Choices

Peter Mountain/Walt Disney Pictures
Johnny Depp in “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest.” Despite negative reviews, the film earned $136 million in its first weekend.

By A. O. Scott
New York Times
Published: July 18, 2006

Let’s start with a few numbers. At, a Web site that quantifies movie reviews on a 100-point scale, the aggregate score for "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" stands at a sodden 54. Metacritic,com, a similar site, crunches the critical prose of the nation’s reviewers and comes up with a numerical grade of 52 out of 100. Even in an era of rampant grade inflation, that’s a solid F.

Meanwhile, over at, where the daily grosses are tabulated, the second installment in the “Pirates” series, which opened on July 7, plunders onward, trailing broken records in its wake. Its $136 million first-weekend take was the highest three-day tally in history, building on a best-ever $55 million on that Friday, and it is cruising into blockbuster territory at a furious clip. As of this writing, a mere 10 days into its run, the movie has brought in $258.2 million, a hit by any measure.

All of which makes “Dead Man’s Chest” a fascinating sequel — not to “Curse of the Black Pearl,” which inaugurated the franchise three years ago, but to "The Da Vinci Code".
Way back in the early days of the Hollywood summer — the third week in May, to be precise — America’s finest critics trooped into screening rooms in Cannes, Los Angeles, New York and points between, saw Ron Howard's adaptation of Dan Brown’s best seller, and emerged in a fit of collective grouchiness. The movie promptly pocketed some of the biggest opening-weekend grosses in the history of its studio, Sony.