Pirates of the Caribbean! The sea-faring juggernaut hits theaters this weekend, clipping the tail of the Norse God that’s been hanging around for a few weeks and otherwise overshadowing the the rest of the top 10. The thing is, even with diminishing returns, bad reviews, and a four-year old sour taste in the public’s mouth from the over-stuffed pair of sequels, a shrunken opening weekend for this franchise still means 9-figures. More than likely at least, and if not… very close.

It is admittedly difficult to account for all of the factors and peg an opening total for Pirates 4, but with predictions swinging wildly from $85m to $120m, I’m going to take the hint from the midnight grosses and guess on the higher end. I’m thinking $105m.

Keep in mind that the film has already made nearly $5m from midnight showings- the best of the year, and better even than Alice in Wonderland. The prospects for the film’s total gross will be much easier to predict after the opening weekend gives us a hint, but the 3D bump may help it land somewhere near the $300 million of the first and third films. It’s a competitive summer though, so $250m may be more likely, with the numbers evening out internationally. Ultimately I think the 3D bump, distance from the last franchise, and shedding some of the baggage the series had accumulated will mean Stranger Tides will act about the same as At World’s End. That’s more than enough justification for Disney to continue, and you can bet number 5 is on it’s way.

We’re also likely to see a divide between critics and audiences. Even if mainstream enthusiasm for the series has tempered since 2, there’s no chance the public isn’t going to enjoy the film more than the rotten 35% tomatometer score would have you believe. Much of the feedback form the online community has bordered on fire and fucking brimstone, with the film literally being called one of the worst of all time by some, and an affront to cinema by others. Three separate critics have tossed arguments at me on Twitter or on Facebook stating that the film is borderline evil for being so bad, when kid-laden families are going to shell out a c-note for a trip to the movies.

Frankly, it’s a heaping pile of bullshit.

For what my hill of beans is worth, I foresee a lot of families having a lot of fun this weekend, and the revolutionary spirit is aimed at the wrong film at the wrong time. I do hope all of those families have a choice between 3D and 2D screens, yes. I’ve come to really enjoy the third dimension, but I’m never a fan of foisting higher prices on cinema-goers. As for the charges that Pirates 4 says anything notable about the state of cinema… also a load of horseshit.

You can hear Nick and I talk more about it in today’s video (as well as enjoy a delightful Tree of Life parody), and you can also read our Tag-Team Review, which gets much more in-depth.

I wish this level of fury had whipped up around Disney’s last event film, but enough geek nostalgia was in play that much of the community couldn’t see it for the brain-numbing, cynical abortion that it is. You’ll find no high praise for the latest Pirates 4 from me, but I will go out on the limb to say that Bruckheimer and Co. weren’t guffawing behind closed doors at how much they were going to win from the suckers come May 20th… All the elements were in play here, even if few of them weren’t really ripe enough to pick. This was a failure to deliver, not a failure to give a fuck in the first place.

The only other story this weekend is if the stellar word of mouth on Bridesmaids leads it to a second weekend with only a tiny drop. Will there be enough latent, “oh shit, that movie’s actually good?!” viewers to pull off a second weekend with barely a dip? I think so, but we’ll just have to see.

On a smaller scale, The First Grader also opens up on a few screens this weekend. If you need a break from the blockbuster, check it out, it’s a solid, inspirational flick.

This is what my ass hath given me….

Pirates 4 ….. $105,000,000
Bridesmaids ….. $18,500,000
Thor ….. $17,000,000
Fast Five ….. $11,000,000
Priest ….. $5,000,000

Come back Sunday to wonder what the fuck I was thinking with me.

The thread in which you talk about this stuff.