We have only one wide release again this weekend, but it’s a biggie. “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” (and no, the subtitle doesn’t refer to Keira Knightley’s cleavage) is opening in 4,133 theaters. Box Office Mojo says that’s the third biggest opening of all time, just barely behind “Shrek 2” and “Spider-Man 2.”
That’s 4,133 theaters, mind you. Since many theaters will have it on more than one screen, the actual number of screens will be more like 8,300 — about 22 percent of all the movie screens in the country. (There are 37,740 as of 2005.) So choose a screen at random and there’s a one-in-five chance “Pirates of the Caribbean” is playing on it this weekend.
Of course, “Superman Returns” is still out there, still playing in 4,065 theaters on about 8,200 screens. “Click” and “Cars” are still doing brisk business on at least 3,500 screens each. That’s 20,000 screens — 53 percent of the total — accounted for by just four movies.
No wonder the arthouse flicks and the documentaries and the independent films can’t play on more than 20 or 30 screens at a time. Even if the distributors could afford to make 3,000 prints to send out, they wouldn’t be able to find 3,000 screens to show them on.
Anyway, I saw “Pirates of the Caribbean” last Wednesday afternoon at a press screening. Disney is obviously proud of this one, showing it nine days early and even letting us bring a guest to the press screening (which is usually verboten). (Not that I did bring a guest, but I could have.)
The most fun we had was before the movie, when we saw a trailer for “The Guardian,” a “Top Gun”-ish flick due this fall starring Kevin Costner and Ashton Kutcher. When it gets over, I leans over to Dawn Taylor and I says:
“Kevin Costner and Ashton Kutcher. Because a block of wood and a slab of cement were unavailable.”
And Dawn says:
“It’s going to get awfully crowded in that paper bag they both can’t act their way out of.”
Anyway, “Pirates of the Caribbean,” “A Scanner Darkly” and “Strangers with Candy” are among the films reviewed in this week’s “In the Dark.” If you haven’t subscribed to it yet, there must be something wrong with you, like clinically.