Monday, August 21, 2006
What a Hit Looks Like – ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest’
My eight-year-old son was not happy about being the last boy at his summer camp to watch “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest,” especially since his dad’s a film critic. So I took him to a Sunday morning show in late July, early enough in the day for plenty of swim time later. I know there’s plenty of stats and box office rankings to describe how "Dead Man’s Chest" qualifies as a movie phenomenon. But what continues to astound me was the packed crowd inside the Cincinnati multiplex and its incredible diversity. Who would have thought that ordinary people (not film buffs waiting in line outside some cinematheque for a weekend Western series) even considered Sunday morning a good time to catch a movie? I may take summers off from attending church, in addition to fall, spring and most of winter, but I’m convinced there are lots of churchgoers left in the world. If they’re not singing, praying and listening to sermons, they’re at least sleeping late.
But 500-odd people skipped their Sunday routine to watch “Dead Man’s Chest” with my son and I. Hundreds others filed into an adjacent auditorium. There were parents with young children, teens on early dates; college-age buddies horsing around; elderly couples, basically every possible demographic. There were there to see the performance of the summer, Johnny Depp’s flamboyant anti-hero Capt. Jack Sparrow. While nobody left declaring “Dead Man’s Chest” the film of a lifetime, everyone had a laugh-out-loud, rollicking good time.
This past late August weekend, ‘Dead Man’s Chest” finished in eighth place for the weekend box office and with $5 million in sold tickets but it crossed the $400 million mark to become the seventh film in box office history to reach that milestone. The stats say phenomenon but I use different criteria. Any movie that fills the house on a Sunday morning with every age, race and economic class represented, is a movie people have decided they have to see.