This Halloween, expect a platoon of pirates to storm stoops across the USA, demanding booty in the form of candy.
The Black Pearl's curse has proven a blessing to the costume business: Jack Sparrow wigs, swords and hats rule retailers.
"It's just ridiculous, it really is," says Dorice Dionne of Dedham, Mass.-based iParty. "Every week I look at the sales and I can't believe how many top items are pirate," from Sparrow's dreadlocks ($24.23 for kids' or adults' size) to "our plain old pirate" accessories for $7.99.
Thanks to more loot flooding the market in a broader price range, Dionne is seeing an "even bigger bump" this season than in 2003, after the release of the first Pirates of the Caribbean
movie. It also helps that the sequel, Dead Man's Chest
, was an even bigger box-office hit than The Curse of the Black Pearl
Sparrow was the Disney Store's best seller in August and September, ahead of Aladdin
's Jasmine, "so it takes something pretty wonderful to bump out a princess," the company's Rick Ladd says.
But swarthy trick-or-treaters will have seaworthy company on land in the form of a school of Ariels. The Little Mermaid swam to the Disney Store's top five costumes berth for the past two months. No wonder: Disney has been giving the glittery costumes a big marketing push to tie in with this week's release of The Little Mermaid
Sparrow is vying with the stars of American Idol
for the No. 1 spot at Mancos, Colo.-based TotallyCostumes.com. Aspiring singer Katelyn Cabrera, 7, already has grabbed the Idol
mic, even though most of her friends "don't know exactly what they're going to be yet. I decide early." Mom Cristina Cabrera, 40, of Riverside, Calif., expects this shimmery outfit to linger on her Celine Dion-wannabe daughter long after Oct. 31: "Oh, yeah."
Still, swashbucklers trounced eToys' survey of what consumers predict will dominate sidewalks and parades on Halloween. Noticeably low on the list: superheroes, including the red-caped one who starred in the summer's other big movie.
"It's something to do with being a clean, straightforward hero vs. a pirate," says eToys' Gary Lindsey. A pirate "can be dirty — and if you're a little boy, that's a good thing. Comes with mud, you know?" Another top eToys pick, the second most popular for boys, comes with grease: Tow Mater Mechanic from the movie Cars
The roguish life doesn't just attract kids: iParty's adult Sparrow costumes are selling briskly at $71.40 apiece. Dionne has seen watering holes around Boston host pirate parties.
Las Vegas-based Halloween Mart.com offers more than a dozen adult pirate costumes, "from fully covered pirate to grungy pirate to sexy pirate," says co-owner Heather Siegel. That last one boasts "a few more tears or a little more flesh showing."