A MEMORABLE MEMORIAL DAY FOR DISNEY

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End may not have broken the three-day box-office record set by Spider-Man 3 earlier this month, but it did set a record for the Memorial Day weekend, hauling in an estimated $142.1 million. (The figure rises to $156.1 million when Thursday's preview screenings are included.) The previous Memorial Day record was set by X-Men: The Last Stand, which opened at this time last year with $122.9 million. In addition, Disney said that the $401 million that the film captured worldwide made it the biggest opening in Hollywood history. Unlike Spider-Man 3, which faced no significant competition when it premiered, Pirates faced last week's No. 1 film, Shrek the Third, which took in $69.1 million over the four days, and Spider-Man 3, which added $18 million to its total (bringing it to $307.6 million). The three top films combined to give the overall box office its biggest haul ever -- $265 million, well above the previous record of $247 million set in 2004. The only other film to open wide over the weekend, the William Friedkin horror film Bug, was virtually squished by the competition, taking in only $4.2 million.

The top ten films over the four-day Memorial Day weekend, according to estimates compiled by Media by Numbers (figures in parentheses represent total estimated gross to date):

1. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (Disney), $142.1 million, 1 Wks. ($156.1 million); 2. Shrek the Third (DreamWorks Animation/Paramount), $69.1 million, 2 Wks. ($219.4 million); 3. Spider-Man 3 (Sony), $18 million, 4 Wks. ($307.6 million); 4. Bug (Lions Gate), $4.2 million, 2 Wks. ($4.2 million); 5. Waitress (Fox Searchlight), $4 million, 5 Wks. ($6.5 million); 6. 28 Weeks Later (Fox Atomic), $3.3 million, 4 Wks. ($24.4 million); 7. Disturbia (Paramount), $2.4 million, 8 Wks. ($74.9 million); 8. Georgia Rule (Universal), $2.4 million, 3 Wks. ($16.8 million); 9. Fracture (New Line), $1.6 million, 6 Wks. ($37.1 million); 10. Wild Hogs (Disney), $1.4 million, 13 Wks. ($163.3 million).

BRUCKHEIMER WON'T COMMIT TO ANOTHER PIRATES MOVIE

Although most analysts were quick to predict that the success of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End virtually guarantees a fourth installment -- and star Johnny Depp has indicated that he would be willing to sign on so that he can explore the character of Jack Sparrow further -- producer Jerry Bruckheimer sounded noncommital when asked about expanding the franchise. "We've been working on this trilogy for 5 1/2 years, and the latest one was just a monster," he told today's (Tuesday) Los Angeles Times. "It's always about making sure you have a great story with interesting plots, themes and characters. There is a possibility-- we'll see what happens."

THERE'LL BE A SHREK 4 AND 5, BUT THAT'S ALL

DreamWorks Animation plans to produce two more Shrek movies before shutting down the franchise, CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg has told the Australian newspaper The Age. "It's a finite story, has been from the beginning and I think that's part of its integrity, part of its strength, that we're not thinking this up as we go," he said in an interview with the Melbourne newspaper. "Ultimately we will come back to understand how Shrek arrived in that swamp. We will reveal his story." Although acknowledging that he is committed to making movies that will make money for DreamWorks' investors, Katzenberg maintained that he himself never thinks about money. "I've never done anything in my entire life for money. ... I'm amazingly disengaged from it, always have been. I probably would have done even better had I ever paid any attention to it. [His wealth is estimated at $800 million.] My partner David Geffen is a genius at it. He's worth a gajillion times more than me because he does pay attention to it -- he's brilliant at investing."

NEXT BATMAN MOVIE WILL HAVE IMAX SCENES

Director Christopher Nolan plans to shoot parts of the next Batman movie, The Dark Knight, in the IMAX format, USA Today reported today (Tuesday). It would mark the first time a major studio has used the cumbersome process in a feature. Four action sequences, including the introduction of the Joker, played by Heath Ledger, will employ the giant-screen process. They will fill the entire IMAX screen, producing the reality-like images that the process is famous for. (Some conventional films have been converted to the IMAX format, but the result is technically inferior to films that are originally shot with the IMAX system.) Nolan told USA Today: "Batman has some of the most extraordinary characters in pop culture. We wanted the Joker to have the grandest entrance possible. I figured if you could take an IMAX camera to Mount Everest or outer space, you could use it in a feature movie."

ANOTHER BLOCKBUSTER MOVIE TO PREMIERE IN JAPAN

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix will be the next major Hollywood blockbuster to premier in Japan rather than the United States, the Hollywood Reporter reported today (Tuesday). The film is due to open in Tokyo on June 28, followed by a second red-carpet event in London on July 3. "Japan has always been the biggest territory outside North America, and the final box office figures in Japan have sometimes outgrossed the U.S. take," Noriyuki Sano, head of the publicity division at Sony Pictures Entertainment Japan, told the trade publication. "But there are other considerations, not least the fact that there is less piracy here than in other countries, which makes companies more lenient about releasing titles here first."

Cinemark Movie Club
Brian B.