Weekend Forecast: Pirates, Paris to Rule Box-Office Domains

It's a sparse week for new releases at the movies, with exactly one blockbuster and one art-house darling dropping in for a run at early-summer lucre. Both are expected to handily finish first in their fields, but not without at least a little competition from a few sturdy holdovers.

[Click the links for Movieline's reviews of each.]

NATIONAL OUTLOOK

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides: The megasmash Pirates franchise returns after a relatively brief hiatus with a new director (Rob Marshall) and new co-stars (Penélope Cruz, Ian McShane) joining eyeliner-rocking stand-by Johnny Depp. The film has stirred feelings among critics ranging from vague interest to gut-churning hatred, but reviews aren't necessarily what it needs to worry about. Thor and Bridesmaids combined should have respectable showings in their third and second weekends respectively -- not quite competition-grade, but maybe siphon-grade, particularly among the lady demographic that has indulged Depp's buccaneer prance for three films now and might have some catching up up to do with Kristen Wiig and Co. But that's still only a few million we're talking about; the $200 million-plus this will take in overseas should more than compensate. FORECAST: $109.3 million

THE PRIME DESTINATION

I defer wholly to Stephanie Zacharek's take on Woody Allen's latest, Midnight in Paris; it's a lovingly crafted, wryly amusing, warmly romantic and deeply affecting love triangle between an idealistic American (played by Owen Wilson), the titular City of Light, and the nostalgia that brings them ever closer together. It's Allen's best work in years and my favorite film of 2011 to date. Take a sweetheart, take your parents, take your kids, it doesn't even matter. Just go. (Opens this weekend in limited release with expansion to follow in the weeks ahead.)

REGIONAL OUTLOOK

The urban drama Cost of a Soul is receiving a quiet release en route to DVD, while the African-American ensemble dramedy 35 and Ticking follows a group of friends grappling with life -- and their respective futures -- as they approach their 35th birthdays.

What do you say? Care to call your shot for Pirates?



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