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Disney's "Pirates 3" -- Off to a Swashbuckling Start

Pirates of Caribbean 3
AP
Pirates of Caribbean 3

"Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" has already brought in 58 million dollars internationally. The film opened on Wednesday in many overseas countries and Thursday night in the U.S., putting it on track for strong numbers over the long holiday weekend. Seventeen million dollars of that comes from domestic theaters Thursday night, and that number will even bigger after Friday night and the remainder of the holiday weekend.

The expectations are huge, with some analysts predicting it'll hit $150 million for the opening weekend, as was the budget. BoxOfficeMojo put it at $225 million, and of course, at least a hundred million more was spent on global marketing. (The general rule is that marketing costs are usually half the cost of a movie budget).

The third "Pirates" will certainly be Disney's biggest movie this year -- and it's likely to be the biggest film industry-wide, as Pirates 2 was last year. The movie is much bigger than Disney's studio, which only makes up about 22 percent of the company's revenues.

The "Pirates" brand infiltrates every single part of the Magic Kingdom. There are "Pirates" attractions at four of the theme parks worldwide -- great promotion for the movie. And consumer products investment is huge -- from 60 "Pirates"-related books in the publishing division, video games, action figures, costumes, t-shirts, high-end skull and crossbones jewelry and more and more toys.

And of course, there are the DVDs. Disney is taking advantage of opening-weekend "Pirates" buzz to launch the first two "Pirates" movies on high-definition Blu-Ray Disc format.

This franchise, which makes money for each of Disney's divisions, is the perfect example of CEO Bob Iger's strategy: focus on making movies that epitomize Disney's "good for the whole family" brand, and that can be sold throughout the company's various divisions.

Now to watching the box office returns...

I saw the movie Monday -- I liked it better than the last one, with its amazing effects, and darker and scarier tone. And, of course, the door was left open to do a "Pirates 4!"

Questions? Comments? MediaMoney@cnbc.com

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  • Working from Los Angeles, Boorstin is CNBC's media and entertainment reporter and editor of CNBC.com's Media Money section.