|Pirates of the Caribbean:|
On Stranger Tides
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Rob Marshall|
|Produced by||Jerry Bruckheimer|
|Music by||Hans Zimmer|
|Distributed by||Walt Disney Studios|
|Box office||$1.046 billion|
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides is a 2011 American fantasy swashbuckler film, the fourth installment in the Pirates of the Caribbean film series and the follow-up to At World's End (2007). It is the first film in the series not to be directed by Gore Verbinski, replaced by Rob Marshall. Jerry Bruckheimer again served as producer. It is technically a stand-alone sequel to the previous installments. In the film, which draws its plot loosely from the novel On Stranger Tides by Tim Powers, Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) is joined by Angelica (Penélope Cruz) in his search for the Fountain of Youth, confronting the infamous pirate Blackbeard (Ian McShane). The film was produced by Walt Disney Pictures and released in the United States on May 20, 2011. It was the first film in the series to be released in the Disney Digital 3-D and IMAX 3D formats.
Writers Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio first learned of Powers's novel On Stranger Tides during the back-to-back production of Dead Man's Chest (2006) and At World's End, and considered it a good starting point for a new film in the series. Pre-production started after the end of the 2007-2008 Writers Guild of America strike, with Depp collaborating with the writers on the story design. Principal photography lasted for 106 days between June and November 2010, with locations in Hawaii, the United Kingdom, Puerto Rico and California. Filming employed 3D cameras similar to those used in the production of the 2009 film Avatar, and ten companies were involved with the film's visual effects. Following inflated production costs which ballooned the net budget to $379 million, the film currently ranks as the most expensive film ever made.
On Stranger Tides broke many box office records and was the third highest-grossing film of 2011. It is the 36th highest-grossing film of all time worldwide when not adjusting for inflation. Reviews were mixed, with criticism for its screenplay, direction, excessiveness, and lack of originality, but compliments for the acting, action sequences, musical score, visuals, and the shorter runtime. A fifth film, titled Dead Men Tell No Tales, was released in May 2017, and a sixth film is in development.
After a failed attempt to rescue his first mate, Joshamee Gibbs, in London, Captain Jack Sparrow is brought before King George II. The king wants Jack to guide an expedition to the Fountain of Youth before King Ferdinand and the Spanish Navy can locate it. Jack's old nemesis, Captain Hector Barbossa, now a privateer in service to the British Navy after losing his leg and ship, the Black Pearl, which he says was sunk, is heading the expedition.
Jack refuses the offer and escapes. He meets up with his father, Captain Teague, who warns Jack about the Fountain's rituals. Jack learns someone is impersonating him to recruit a crew to find the Fountain. The impostor is Angelica, Jack's former lover, and the daughter of the ruthless pirate Blackbeard, who practices voodoo magic and wields the mythical "Sword of Triton" that controls his ship, the Queen Anne's Revenge. While Jack is shanghaied aboard Blackbeard's ship, Gibbs escapes execution by memorizing and destroying Jack's map showing the Fountain's location, forcing Barbossa to take him along.
Meanwhile, after a failed mutiny aboard the Queen Anne's Revenge, Jack is forced to guide the crew to the Fountain. Blackbeard seeks the Fountain's power to circumvent his predestined fatal encounter with a "one-legged man", who happened to be Barbossa. Jack must find two silver chalices aboard Juan Ponce de León's missing flagship, the Santiago. The Fountain's water must simultaneously be drunk by two people from the chalices. Drinking from one chalice containing a mermaid's tear will extend life; the second person dies, their remaining years of life transferred to the other drinker. Jack also discovers that the Black Pearl was captured and shrunk before being added to Blackbeard's collection of other shrunken ships in bottles.
The Queen Anne's Revenge heads for Whitecap Bay to find and harvest mermaid tears. After managing to lure in a mermaid named Tamara, she summons other mermaids to attack the crew before Jack causes an explosion that scares them away. A mermaid named Syrena is caught: then Philip Swift, a captive missionary, falls in love with her. Reaching Ponce de León's ship on an uncharted island, Angelica and Blackbeard coerce Jack into retrieving both chalices. Jack locates the grounded, decaying vessel, only to find Barbossa there. Both guess that the Spanish have taken the chalices, after they are nowhere to be found on the vessel.
Jack and Barbossa team up to sneak into the Spanish camp and steal the chalices. Barbossa reveals he only wants revenge against Blackbeard for attacking the Black Pearl, and his leg being amputated. Jack and Barbossa escape with the chalices. Meanwhile, Syrena, reciprocating Philip's love, is tricked into shedding a tear. Blackbeard collects it, leaving her to die of dehydration while Philip is forced to go with them. Jack returns with the chalices and bargains with Blackbeard for Angelica's safety, Jack's confiscated magical compass (which they took from him before sending him to get the chalices), and Gibbs' release. In return, Jack vows to give Blackbeard the chalices and lead him to the Fountain; Blackbeard agrees, and Gibbs is set free with the compass.
At the Fountain, Blackbeard's crew is confronted by Barbossa and his men and they battle while Barbossa and Blackbeard fight. The Spanish suddenly arrive, intending to destroy the Fountain, believing its power an abomination against God. They crush the chalices and throw them in the swamp. When Barbossa stabs Blackbeard with a poisoned sword, Angelica pulls it out and is cut and poisoned. Jack notices Angelica is poisoned and begins frantically searching the swamp for the chalices. Barbossa obtains Blackbeard's magic sword and gains control of the Queen Anne's Revenge and her crew. Despite resistance from Blackbeard's crew, the Spanish successfully pull down a pillar, crushing the Fountain of Youth. The Spanish army leaves once the fountain is in ruins. Philip is mortally wounded, but he returns to free Syrena. She helps Jack retrieve the missing chalices and gives them to him, telling him not to waste her tear. Syrena goes back to the dying Philip. She says she can save him if he asks her to. When he asks for her forgiveness, she kisses him and takes him underwater.
With Blackbeard and Angelica both nearing death, Jack retrieves the last remaining drops of water from the destroyed fountain and puts the tear in one of them. Knowing that one of them must be sacrificed, he wants Angelica to drink from the chalice containing the tear. Instead, Blackbeard drinks it, asking his daughter to save him. Angelica agrees and drinks from the second chalice. Jack is upset to lose Angelica, but reveals that he made a mistake about which chalice contained the tear. Neither of the two are happy, and they both believe Jack deliberately tricked them. Angelica's wounds are healed as the Fountain fatally consumes Blackbeard's body, killing him.
Eventually, Jack and Angelica admit their love for each other, yet he distrusts her intentions (aware that she may try to avenge her father) and strands her on a cay. Now wielding Blackbeard's magical sword, Barbossa captains the Queen Anne's Revenge and returns to piracy. Jack finds Gibbs, who had used the compass to locate the Revenge. He reclaims the shrunken Black Pearl and the other conquered ships in bottles, carrying them in a gunny sack. The two leave, hoping to revert the Black Pearl to its original size and continue living the pirates' life.
Shortly before the premiere of At World's End, Jerry Bruckheimer stated it was the end of the trilogy, but the idea of a spin-off was still possible. After the film's successful opening weekend, Dick Cook, then Chairman of the Walt Disney Studios, said he was interested in a fourth installment. Los Angeles Times also reported that rights to a book were bought.Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio had started working on a script in 2007, but they were interrupted by the 2007-2008 Writers Guild of America strike, and only resumed in mid-2008.
In June 2009, Bruckheimer indicated Disney would prefer the fourth installment of Pirates to be released before The Lone Ranger film, which he, Johnny Depp, Ted Elliott, and Terry Rossio had been working on for release on May 20, 2011. He hoped Gore Verbinski would return to direct the fourth film, as his BioShock film adaptation had been put on hold. As Verbinski was unavailable due to his commitment with Rango the same year, Bruckheimer suggested Rob Marshall, who he considered a "premiere filmmaker", stating that "Every film [Marshall] made I thought was unique and different." On July 21, 2009, Marshall accepted the job, because of the "whole new story line and set of characters. It felt new, and that was important to me." Marshall said the film provided him a long-awaited opportunity to work with Depp, and that his directing was helped by his experience as a choreographer--"the action sequences felt like big production numbers." On September 11, 2009, at Disney's D23 convention during a Disney event, Cook and Johnny Depp, in full Captain Jack Sparrow costume, announced that a fourth Pirates film was in development. The title was announced as Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. Marshall visited the Pirates of the Caribbean ride in Disneyland for inspiration, eventually paying homage with a skeleton holding a magnifying glass in Ponce de León's ship. An appearance of "Old Bill", the pirate who tries to share his rum with a cat, was also filmed but cut.Pintel and Ragetti were originally supposed to make an appearance, but director Rob Marshall opted out of the idea as he feared their roles would be cut.
Cook resigned in September 2009 after working for Disney for over 38 years. Depp's faith in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides was somewhat shaken after the resignation, with Depp explaining that "There's a fissure, a crack in my enthusiasm at the moment. It was all born in that office". Depp also explained Cook was one of the few who accepted his portrayal of Jack Sparrow: "When things went a little sideways on the first Pirates movie and others at the studio were less than enthusiastic about my interpretation of the character, Dick was there from the first moment. He trusted me".
During production of Dead Man's Chest and At World's End, writers Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio discovered Tim Powers's 1987 novel On Stranger Tides, which they considered a good foundation on which to base "a new chapter" in the Pirates series. Disney bought the rights to the novel in April 2007. Rossio stated that he and Elliot had considered using Blackbeard and the Fountain of Youth in the story before reading the book, "but whenever you say those words, Powers's novel comes to mind. There was no way we could work in that field without going into territory Tim had explored." However, they denied that it would be a straight version of the novel: "Blackbeard came from the book, and in the book there is a daughter character, too. But Jack Sparrow is not in the book, nor is Barbossa. So I wouldn't call this an adaptation." Rossio declared the script was written to be a standalone film, "kind of a James Bond sort of thing", instead of the "designed to be a trilogy" structure of the previous installments. They hoped to "design a story that would support new characters," as characters such as Will Turner would not return. Bruckheimer added that there was a decision to "streamline the story a little bit, make it a little simpler and not have as many characters to follow", as the number of characters and subplots in At World's End caused the film to have an unwieldy length. The duo decided to employ another sea myth alluded in the previous episodes: mermaids, which are briefly referenced in the book. The mermaids' role expanded in the script, which included a vast attack sequence.
Depp was deeply involved with the story design, frequently meeting the writers to show what he was interested in doing, and in the words of Rossio, being "involved in coming up with story lines, connecting characters, creating moments that we would then fashion, shape and then go back." Among Depp's suggestions were turning Phillip into a missionary and having a Spanish contingent following the protagonists. Afterwards, Rob Marshall and executive producer John DeLuca met Rossio and Elliot, and did alterations of their own, including building the female lead.
Depp signed on to return as Captain Jack Sparrow in September 2008, saying that he would come back if the script was good. Almost a year later, Disney announced that Depp would be paid $55.5 million for his role, realizing that without him the franchise would be "dead and buried."Geoffrey Rush expressed interest in returning to his role as Barbossa, and Bruckheimer later confirmed his presence. Rush was positive on Barbossa having lost a leg, as he considered the disability made him "angrier, more forceful and resilient as a character", and had to work with the stunt team for an accurate portrayal of the limp and usage of crutch, particularly during sword fighting scenes. While the production team considered a prop pegleg to be put over Rush's leg, the tight schedule caused it to be replaced with a blue sock that was replaced digitally, with a knob on the shoe to give Rush a reference for his walk. Three other actors from the previous films returned, Kevin McNally as Joshamee Gibbs, Greg Ellis as Lt. Theodore Groves, and Damian O'Hare as Lt. Gilette.Keith Richards also had a cameo, reprising his role as Captain Teague from At World's End; he and Depp tried to persuade Mick Jagger to audition for the part of a pirate elder. Previous cast members Orlando Bloom (Will Turner) and Keira Knightley (Elizabeth Swann) stated that they would not reprise their roles, as they wanted to be involved in different films. They both thought the storyline involving their characters had gone as far as it could. On August 1, 2009, Bill Nighy expressed his desire to return as Davy Jones, who died in the previous film, saying the possibility to resurrect the character, but at the end, his inclusion was scrapped. On February 5, 2010, Mackenzie Crook also announced he would not be reprising his role of Ragetti, stating, "They haven't asked me. But actually I don't mind that at all. I'm a fan of the first one especially and I think the trilogy we've made is great. I'd almost like them to leave it there."
New cast members include Ian McShane, who plays the notorious pirate and primary antagonist of the film, Blackbeard, and Penélope Cruz, who plays Angelica, Jack Sparrow's love interest. According to Marshall, McShane was chosen because "he can play something evil but there's always humor behind it as well" and the actor accepted the job due to both the "very funny and charming" script and the opportunity to work with Marshall. The beard took one hour and a half to get applied, and McShane likened the character's costume to "a real biker pirate--it's all black leather." Marshall said Cruz was the only actress considered for the role, as she fit the description as "an actress who could not only go toe to toe with Johnny and match him, but also needed to be all the things that Jack Sparrow is in a way. She needed to be funny and clever and smart and crafty and beautiful", and invited her for the role as they wrapped the production of Nine. The actress spent two months working out and learning fencing for the role. During filming, Cruz discovered she was pregnant, leading the costume department to redesign her wardrobe to be more elastic, and the producers to hire her sister Mónica Cruz to double for Penélope in risky scenes. Depp recommended Stephen Graham, who worked with him in Public Enemies, to play Scrum, a Machiavellian pirate and sidekick to Jack Sparrow, and Richard Griffiths for the role of King George II, as Depp was a fan of Griffiths' work on Withnail and I.Sam Claflin, a recent drama school graduate with television experience, was chosen to play the missionary Philip, and British actor Paul Bazely also joined the cast. Spanish news website El Pais reported that the film had four Spanish actors: Cruz, Bergès-Frisbey, Óscar Jaenada, and Juan Carlos Vellido. Jaenada was picked for both his work in The Losers and a recommendation by Cruz.
Casting for mermaids required the actresses to have natural breasts--no implants. As Bruckheimer explained to EW, "I don't think they had breast augmentation in the 1700s, [...] So it's natural for casting people to say, 'We want real people.'" Marshall invited Spanish-French actress Àstrid Bergès-Frisbey to play Syrena after seeing her in a French magazine article on up-and-coming actresses. Bergès-Frisbey had to take lessons of English, swimming and breath control for the role. The rest of the mermaid portrayers, such as Australian supermodel Gemma Ward, were chosen for having "exotic sense, an otherworldly sensibility, but also under those layers a deadly quality", according to Marshall, and had to take swimming lessons to learn movements such as the dolphin and eggbeater kicks.
Principal photography began on June 14, 2010, in Hawaii. Filming was moved to California in August 2010, primarily at the Long Beach shore and a recreation of Whitecap Bay done in the Universal Studios backlot, as the original Hawaiian location on Halona Cove was plagued with strong tides. After a brief shoot in Puerto Rico, with locations in both Palomino Island and the Fort of San Cristóbal in San Juan, production moved to the United Kingdom in September, where principal photography wrapped on November 18 after 106 days of shooting. Locations included Hampton Court Palace in London,Knole House in Kent, and Old Royal Naval College at Greenwich. Interiors were shot at London's Pinewood Studios, and a replica of an 18th-century London street was built on the backlot alongside the soundstages. The producers also considered using New Orleans as a location. In October, security was breached at the UK site when a celebrity impersonator gained access to filming at the Old Royal Naval College by dressing up as Captain Jack.
After the joint production of Dead Man's Chest and At World's End cost over $300 million, Disney decided to give a lower budget to the fourth installment. Many costs had to be cut, including moving primary production to Hawaii and London, where tax credits are more favorable, and having a shorter shooting schedule and fewer scenes featuring special effects compared to At World's End. The tighter schedule--according to Bruckheimer, "We had a 22-week post, and for a picture like this, with almost 1,200 visual effects shots, it's usually 40 weeks"--meant that Marshall supervised editing of sequences during filming. The British financial statements of the film revealed total expenditures of £240.7 million ($410.6 million) by 2013, with Disney receiving a rebate of $32.1 million from the British government, making Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides the most expensive film ever made to date.
Bruckheimer said the decision to film in 3D was made due to its being "immersive filmmaking; I think it makes you part of the actual filming because you're part of the screen." Bruckheimer described it as the first major "exterior movie" to be shot in 3D, as Avatar was mostly done in sound stages. At first Marshall was not much interested in 3D, but the director eventually considered it a film that could benefit from the format. "You are on an adventure and with the 3D experience you are inside that adventure." While the original plan was to add 3D effects during post-production, the decision was made to shoot digitally with 3D cameras. Only one sequence was shot conventionally and needed a 3D conversion. The cameras were improved versions of the ones James Cameron developed for Avatar, which were made more compact for extra mobility. This meant the cameras could be brought into locations such as the Hawaiian jungle.
Queen Anne's Revenge was built atop Sunset, the same ship used to depict Black Pearl in previous installments. In February 2010, Sunset was sailed from Long Beach to a shipyard in Hawaii for the reforms, where a big concern was to make it imposing, with three stories, without sacrificing actual seakeeping. Given Blackbeard was meant to be the meanest pirate to appear in the series, the look for Queen Anne's Revenge was ominous, with sails dyed blood red, various elements on fire, and a decoration based on skulls and bones (drawing inspiration from the Sedlec Ossuary in Czech Republic). Damage from cannon fire was also added to show that "not only Blackbeard was a dying man, but his ship is also a dying ship". The ship's figurehead also drew inspiration from Blackbeard's pirate flag. The replica ship HMS Surprise was used for Barbossa's ship, HMS Providence, and all the scenes aboard Providence were shot on the Long Beach shore as Surprise could not be sailed to Hawaii. Over 50 designs were considered for the Fountain of Youth, with the final one representing a temple built by an ancient civilization around the Fountain, which itself was located in a round rocky structure to represent "the circle of life". The locations leading up to the Fountain were shot in the Hawaiian islands of Kauai and Oahu, but the Fountain itself was built at the 007 Stage on Pinewood.
On Stranger Tides employed 1,112 shots of computer-generated imagery, which were done by ten visual effects companies.Cinesite visual effects supervisor Simon Stanley-Clamp claimed that the most difficult part was doing the effects in 3D: "Rotoscoping is tricky. Cleaning up plates is double the work, and tracking has to be spot on." The lead companies, with over 300 effects each, were Industrial Light & Magic--responsible for, among others, the mermaids and most water effects--and Moving Picture Company, who created digital ships and environment extensions, such as changing weather and designing cliffs and waterfalls. Filming the mermaids involved eight model-actresses, who portrayed them outside the water, as well as 22 synchronized swimming athletes and a group of stuntwomen, both of whom wore motion capture suits to be later replaced by digital mermaids. Mermaid corpses were depicted by plaster models. The design tried to avoid the traditional representations of mermaids in paintings and literature, instead going for a scaly body with a translucent membrane inspired by both jellyfish and the fabric employed in ballet tutus. To make the mermaids more menacing underwater, the faces of the actresses had some digital touch-ups on the underwater scenes, adding sharper teeth and a shimmery fish scale quality on the skin. ILM also handled Blackbeard's death, where Ian McShane's actual performance was covered by digital doubles which turned him into a "boiling mass of blood and clothing", and a hurricane-like formation that represented "the waters of the Fountain taking his life". Cinesite handled the recreation of London and Barbossa's peg leg, CIS Hollywood did 3D corrections and minor shots, and Method Studios created matte paintings.
The film's score was written by Hans Zimmer, who had worked in all of the previous entries in the franchise; being the main composer for the second and third installments. Zimmer said that he tried to incorporate a rock n' roll sound, as he felt "pirates were the rock 'n' rollers of many, many years ago", and Spanish elements, which led to a collaboration with Mexican guitarists Rodrigo y Gabriela and a tango song written by Penélope Cruz's brother Eduardo. American composer Eric Whitacre contributed several choir-based cues, as well as regular assistant Geoff Zanelli.
On January 6, 2010, Disney announced that the film would be released in the United States and Canada on May 20, 2011, following Columbia Pictures' announcement of a delay in the Spider-Man reboot and Paramount Pictures slating Thor for May 6, 2011. The film was released in IMAX 3D, as well as traditional 2D and IMAX format, with Dolby 7.1 surround sound. This film was also the first film to be released in the 4DX motion theaters in Mexico and in the Western Hemisphere, featuring strobe lights, tilting seats, blowing wind and fog and odor effects. It is available exclusively at select Cinépolis cinemas.
The world premiere of On Stranger Tides was on May 7, 2011, at a premium ticket screening at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, home of the original Pirates of the Caribbean ride that inspired the film series. Many of the film's stars were in attendance. Two other early screenings followed, one in Moscow on May 11, and another during the Cannes International Film Festival on May 14. The international release dates fell within May 18 and 20, with opening dates in the United Kingdom on May 18, in Australia on May 19, and in North America on May 20. The film was released on a then-record 402 IMAX screens, 257 screens in North America, and 139 in other territories. The total number of theaters was 4,155 in North America and 18,210 worldwide.
Disney's marketing president, MT Carney, said that the film's advertising campaign was intended "to remind people of why they fell in love with Jack Sparrow in the first place and also introduce new elements in a way that was elegant".Sony Pictures' former marketing president, Valerie Van Galder, was hired as a consultant. The first footage from the film appeared on Entertainment Tonight on December 4, 2010. Three trailers were released, one in December, which had a 3D version included with the release of Tron: Legacy and broadcast by ESPN 3D; a Super Bowl XLV spot on February 2011, which was later released online in an extended version; and a final trailer in March that focused more on the plot than the previous trailer and commercials.
Promotional tie-ins included Lego Pirates of the Caribbean toy sets and a related video game, a cell phone app by Verizon Wireless, a special edition of Pirate's Booty, lines of nail polish by OPI, clothing from Hot Topic, and jewelry from Swarovski.Goldline International produced replicas of the "Pieces of Eight" coins from the movies and gold Mexican Escudo coins, which were given in sweepstakes at the El Capitan Theatre. At Disney California Adventure Park, the Pirates of the Caribbean segment of the World of Color show was extended to include visual clips and music from On Stranger Tides.
The film was released on DVD and Blu-Ray on September 12, 2011 in the UK, topping both the Blu-ray and DVD sales charts during its first two weeks. The film had its high-definition home release on October 18, 2011 in the United States and Canada. Three different physical packages were made available: a 2-disc combo pack (Blu-ray and DVD), a 5-disc combo pack (2-disc Blu-ray, 1-disc Blu-ray 3D, 1-disc DVD, and 1-disc Digital Copy), and a 15-disc collection featuring all four Pirates movies. On Stranger Tides was also released as a movie download in both high definition and 3D. The regular DVD edition came out on December 6.
In its first week of release, it sold 1.71 million Blu-ray units and generated $48.50 million, topping the weekly Blu-ray chart. However these results were quite skewed due to the one-month delay of its DVD-only release. It sold 3.20 million Blu-ray units ($83.46 million) after 11 weeks. It has also sold 1.12 million DVD units ($19.32 million). Upon its television premiere on December 29, 2013 in the UK on BBC One, it was watched by a total of 5.4 million viewers, making it the third-most watched program that night, according to overnight figures.
On Stranger Tides earned $241.1 million in the North America and $804.6 million in other countries for a worldwide total of $1.045 billion. It is the 35th highest-grossing film worldwide, the third-highest-grossing 2011 film, the second most successful installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean series, the 20th highest-grossing Disney feature and the fourth highest-grossing fourth film in a franchise (behind Avengers: Endgame, Jurassic World and Transformers: Age of Extinction). On its worldwide opening weekend, it grossed $350.6 million, surpassing At World's Ends $344 million opening as best in the series and ranking as the seventh-highest worldwide opening. It scored an IMAX worldwide opening-weekend record with $16.7 million (first surpassed by Transformers: Dark of the Moon).
It set records for the least time to reach $500, $600, and $700 million worldwide (in 10, 12 and 16 days, respectively). The first of these records was first surpassed by Dark of the Moon and the other two by Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2. After 46 days in theaters (July 2, 2011), it became the eighth film in cinema history and the fourth film released by Walt Disney Studios to cross the $1-billion-mark. It set a record for the fastest Disney-distributed film to reach the milestone (first surpassed by Marvel's The Avengers) and it is the fifth-fastest film overall to achieve this.
During its Thursday-midnight showings, On Stranger Tides earned $4.7 million from 2,210 theaters, and $34,860,549 in total on its opening day. It earned $90.2 million on its opening weekend, topping the weekend box office, but earning much less than its two immediate predecessors (At World's End - $114.7 million and Dead Man's Chest - $135.6 million) and the directly preceding Johnny Depp spectacle (Alice in Wonderland - $116.1 million). 3D showings accounted for only 46% of its opening-weekend gross. It closed on September 29, 2011, with a $241.1 million gross, ranking as the fifth-highest-grossing film of 2011 and the least profitable film of the franchise. However, it was the top-grossing movie during May 2011 (with $166.8 million by May 31).
Outside North America, On Stranger Tides is the sixth-highest-grossing film, the third-highest-grossing Disney film, the second-highest-grossing 2011 film and the highest-grossing film of the Pirates of the Caribbean series. It is the highest-grossing Pirates film in at least 58 territories.
During its opening day (Wednesday, May 18, 2011), On Stranger Tides made $18.5 million from 10 territories. It added 37 territories and $25.7 million on Thursday, for a two-day total of $44.2 million, and on Friday, it expanded to almost all countries, earning $46.2 million for a three-day total of $92.1 million. On its five-day opening weekend as a whole, it earned a then-record $260.4 million from 18,210 screens in more than 100 territories, in all which it reached first place at the box office. The record debut was surpassed later in the same summer season by Deathly Hallows Part 2. Earnings originating from 3-D showings accounted for 66% of the weekend gross, which was a much greater share than in North America. Its highest-grossing countries during its first weekend were Russia and the CIS ($31.42 million including previews), China ($22.3 million) and Germany ($20.53 million). It dominated for three weekends at the overseas box office despite competition from The Hangover Part II, Kung Fu Panda 2, and X-Men: First Class. It reached the $300, $400 and $500-million-mark at the box office outside North America in record time (7, 11 and 14 days respectively), records first surpassed by Deathly Hallows - Part 2.
On Stranger Tides set opening day records in both Russia (including the CIS) and Sweden. Subsequently, it set opening-weekend records in Latin America, the Middle East, Russia, Norway, Ukraine and Turkey, still retaining the record in Russia ($26.8 million) and Ukraine ($2.15 million). Its highest-grossing market after North America is Japan ($108.9 million), followed by China ($71.8 million) and Russia and the CIS ($63.7 million). It is the highest-grossing film of 2011 in Russia and the CIS, Austria, Ukraine, Greece, Portugal and Angola, South Africa, Romania, Bulgaria, Egypt, Estonia, and Latvia.
Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film an approval rating of 33% based on 259 reviews, with an average rating of 5/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "It's shorter and leaner than the previous sequel, but this Pirates runs aground on a disjointed plot and a non-stop barrage of noisy action sequences."Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average rating to reviews, gives the film an average score of 45 out of 100, based on 39 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".CinemaScore polls reported that the average grade moviegoers gave the film was a "B+" on an A+ to F scale.
Roger Ebert gave On Stranger Tides two out of four stars, saying that although the removal of Knightley and Bloom as well as the addition of Cruz were positive aspects, the film in general was "too much of a muchness" for him. Tom Long of The Detroit News gave a D+, saying that Jack Sparrow had "worn out his welcome". Despite the more linear plot, "the movie is still ridiculous". He found On Stranger Tides to be "precisely what you'd expect of the fourth installment of a movie based on an amusement park ride: a whole lot of noise, plenty of stunts and complete silliness." British film critic Mark Kermode gave the film an overwhelmingly negative review on his 5 Live show, saying "it's not as staggeringly misjudged as the third part, because it is just nothing, it is just a big empty nothing, whereas part three I think was an active atrocity, it's just nothing at all".
As with the previous films, the plot was criticized as incoherent and confusing. The Arizona Republic critic Bill Goodykoontz rated the film two out of five, stating that "the movie is a series of distractions tossed together in the hopes that they will come together in a coherent story. That never really happens." Online reviewer James Berardinelli considered the script "little more than a clothesline from which to dangle all of the obligatory set pieces", and USA Todays Claudia Puig found On Stranger Tides "familiar and predictable...often incoherent and crammed with pointless details."
Mike Scott from The Times-Picayune mentions that "while this latest chapter isn't quite sharp enough to restore the sense of discovery that made that first outing so darn exciting, it's enough to make up for most of the missteps that made the third one so darn arrgh-inducing." Writing for The A.V. Club, Tasha Robinson described On Stranger Tides as "a smaller film than past installments, by design and necessity", and felt that "the series has needed this streamlining" as the film "feels lightweight, but that's still better than bloated."
On Stranger Tides also had positive reviews; some critics found the film to be entertaining and well-made. Richard Roeper gave the film a B+, describing it as "the most fun installment since the first", calling the story "pure cartoon, but a lot easier to follow than the other sequels", and summing as "the franchise is getting tired, but Penelope energizes it." Along the same lines, Ann Hornaday of The Washington Post gave the film three out of four stars, writing that it "feels as fresh and bracingly exhilarating as the day Jack Sparrow first swashed his buckle, infusing new reckless energy into a franchise that shows no signs of furling its sails". She said that Marshall "swiftly and without fuss delivers the action set pieces and eye-popping escapism" and praised Depp, Cruz, and McShane's performances. Ray Bennett from The Hollywood Reporter considered that Marshall "shows terrific flair with all the usual chases and sword fights, and he handles the 3D well", and welcomed Penélope Cruz's character, saying she "brings her Oscar-winning vivacity" and had "lively sexual tension" with Depp. Writing for The Globe and Mail, Rick Groen found the action scenes to range from "merely competent to tritely cluttered", but he was pleased with the overall result, calling McShane a "fresh villain" whose "stentorian tones are welcome anywhere".Variety's Andrew Barker considered the film derivative, but accessible. "It has nary an original idea and still doesn't make much sense, but it's lost all pretensions that it should". He praised Geoffrey Rush, stating that he "not only gets the funniest lines and reaction shots, but also starts to siphon away much of the roguish charm that used to be Depp's stock and trade."
The film was nominated for four Teen Choice Awards: Sci-Fi/Fantasy Movie, Sci-Fi/Fantasy Actor, Sci-Fi/Fantasy Actress, and Villain. Its trailer and TV spot were nominated for Golden Trailer Awards. The film won Best Movie for Mature Audiences Award at the 2012 Movieguide Awards.
Production costs: $410.6 million; rebate: $32.1 million