Los Angeles (Reuters): Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest raked in a lot of doubloons at North American theaters over the weekend, making a record 132 million dollars in its first three days, according to studio estimates issued yesterday. Walt Disney Co.'s adventure sequel, starring Johnny Depp as the flamboyant Captain Jack Sparrow, surpassed industry expectations of an opening in the 100 million dollars range. The previous three-day record of 115 million dollars was set by Spider-Man in May 2002. The Pirates haul of 55.5 million dollars during its first day of release on Friday also set a record for single-day sales, beating the 50 million dollars earned on a Thursday in May 2005 by Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith. Pirates played strongly across all age groups, Disney said. The studio said people were buying tickets for multiple screenings on the same day.
By contrast, 2003's Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl opened with 46.8 million dollars, and ended up with 305 million dollars domestically. Both films were directed by Gore Verbinski. Also returning to the cast were British actors Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom. A third film is scheduled for release next year. As has been the case this summer, there was a wide disconnect between critics and consumers. A New York Times review said the film ''batters you with novelty and works so hard to top itself that exhaustion sets in long before the second hour is over.''
Superman Returns slipped to No. 2, making 21.9 million dollars in its second weekend and taking the Man of Steel's 12-day tally to 141.7 million dollars. Distributor Warner Bros. Pictures, a unit of Time Warner Inc., said it expected the movie to reach 200 million dollars. The two film franchises helped the overall box office post higher year-on-year sales for an eighth consecutive weekend, according to tracking firm Exhibitor Relations. The top 12 films earned 206.5 million dollars, the sort of figure usually reached during a four-day holiday. Rounding out this weekend's top five were Twentieth Century Fox's fashion industry satire The Devil Wears Prada with 15.8 million dollars; Columbia Pictures' Adam Sandler comedy Click with 12 million dollars; and Disney's Pixar-produced cartoon Cars with 10.3 million dollars.