Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (Photo: Disney)

These days, when it comes to American blockbusters, you have to look past America. The real measure of a film’s box-office supremacy is how it does on a global scale, which is why Captain America movies often open in Europe a week before they open in America, why Chinese and Hong Kong actors often nab supporting roles in Hollywood tent-poles, and why Pacific Rim is getting a sequel. It’s also why you have to apply a different calculus to the returns of domestic blockbusters—to look past what they made on their own soil to determine if they’re a hit, a flop, a surprise success, or a disappointment. Even on Memorial Day weekend, the ticket-buying patterns of American moviegoers don’t tell the whole story.

Just look at the latest entry in the Pirates Of The Caribbean franchise, Dead Men Tell No Tales. Though it was enough to handily top the U.S. box-office for the holiday weekend, the film’s four-day gross of $62.6 million is the lowest opening for the series since the original, a sleeper hit way back in the summer of 2003. This might be cause for alarm at Disney, which was expecting much more robust returns for Jack Sparrow’s return, were it not for the $208.4 million Dead Men made overseas—enough booty to land it in 12th place on the all-time list of international premieres. (In China, in fact, it’s already Disney’s third best debut ever.) Domestically, this will almost certainly be the low-grosser of the Pirates series. But like the previous entry, On Stranger Tides, it’s been rescued by the rest of the world.

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The same may end up being true for Baywatch, the self-referential cheese- and beefcake reboot of the ’90s syndication juggernaut. Opening in third place on the U.S. charts, behind a strong $24-million fourth weekend for Marvel’s latest boom-and-zoom superhero extravaganza, Baywatch made a very mediocre $18.5 million here in the States—seemingly a death knell for this prospective franchise. But don’t throw in the beach towel just yet, Paramount. The film opens in 31 other global markets next weekend, and while it doesn’t quite fit the usual profile of a worldwide smash—the language of CGI goliaths slugging each other is universal; comedy usually isn’t—it’s good to keep in mind that Baywatch was once the most watched television show on the planet, amassing massive ratings all over. If the nostalgia bug bites the rest of the world harder (or if the promise of some winking t&a travels well) Baywatch could survive to jokily jiggle in summers to come.

Otherwise, it was a Memorial Day weekend of milestones, some good news for studios, the others much less so. After grossing a better-than-expected $36.1 million in its opening weekend, Alien: Covenant made like a flaming meteoroid and plummeted a devastating 70-percent in its second weekend, crash-landing in fourth place with a meager $10.5 million—the second largest drop ever for a movie playing on more than 3,700 screens. Also of note: Thanks to the one-two punch of Pirates and Guardians, Disney crossed $1 billion in domestic returns for the year—a mark the company would have reached in record speed, were it not for how fast they accomplished the same feat last year—while its Beauty And The Beast remake became only the eight movie to make more than $500 million in domestic ticket sales. Not to be outdone, Universal also made the record books with The Fate Of The Furious, which became only the sixth film ever to cross the $1 billion mark internationally.

For more detailed numbers, visit Box Office Mojo.

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