Fourth instalment in Pirates franchise takes no prisoners at the UK box office

Disney moneyspinner Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides was predictably rampant at the UK box office over its first weekend, plundering an £11.6m bounty from 569 locations at a giddy £20,448 location average.

Pirate’s opening was the best of 2011 and the biggest since Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part One conjured $18m in November last year.

But despite the film’s crushing performance, it fell short of previous instalment At World’s End which took £2m more four years ago (£13.4m) on 17 fewer screens.

The fourth episode took a fraction more than Dead Man’s Chest (£11.4m) in 2006 and easily outscored franchise opener The Curse Of The Black Pearl to become the second biggest opener in the series.

£3.1m came from two days of previews. The film already ranks 20th most lucrative among films released in the UK this year.

Considering the phenomenal international haul the only doubt concerning a fifth instalment will be whether to leave it as long between episodes, with fans having to wait four years - the same time they waited for the first three episodes - for Stranger Tides. As long a wait seems unlikely.

Inevitably, no major releases dared oppose Pirates, which was the only newcomer in the top 8 films. The drop off was enormous for returning titles.

In its fifth week, Fast And Furious 5 made it a hat-trick of second-placed performances, taking £587,617 from 388 screens at an average of £1,514. With a total box office of £17.4m, Fast 5 is currently the 11th biggest earner in the UK this year. That film’s -49% week-on-week change was the best holdover among the top ten films, giving an indication of the widespread decline.

Last week’s number one film Thor slipped to third in its fourth week, grossing £528,701 while the week’s only second-week film Attack The Block fell 69%, taking £355,232 for £1.9m.

Two more new entries did manage to sneak into the top ten: Lionsgate’s thriller Blitz, starring Jason Statham, managed only £266,148 in ninth while Fox’s comedy Win Win did anything but succeed making £155,463m in tenth.

There were notable successes for two documentary openers, Revolver’s cricket doc Fire In Babylon, which skittled £107,312 from only eight screens to record a £13,414 screen average and Verve’s Vidal Sassoon The Movie took £23,750 from only five screens.

This weekend will see an interesting battle between Pirates and the sequel to Warner’s surprise smash The Hangover, imaginatively titled The Hangover Part II. Fox’s Diary Of A Wimpy Kid 2 is the only other saturation release, while there are limited entries for Heartbeats, Angles Of Evil, Le Quattro Volte and Aplcalypse Now Redux.