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Pirates Yields Bounty for Disney

The latest installment of Jerry Bruckheimer's Pirates of the Caribbean series should add significantly to Disney's (DIS) bottom line.

The film, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, cut a swath through box-office history, smashing records with an estimated $132 million opening weekend at theaters. That beats other notables including previous record-holder Spider-Man, which had held the title with a $115 million opening.

Pirates' opening also tops other blockbuster sequels from series including Star Wars, Batman, and the recently released Superman Returns. Indeed, Superman was grounded in only its second week in release, thanks to the Disney picture. The Warner Brothers film pulled in a paltry $21.8 million in its second weekend.

Pirates is a huge win for Disney on two scores. Analysts are upping their estimates for the Burbank, Calif., studio based on the film's box-office success. Based on weekend results, Soleil analyst Laura Martin raised 2006 revenue estimates for Disney by $100 million. Martin bumped up fiscal 2007 estimates for revenue by $400 million and earnings per share by 6 cents.

It also marks a rather resplendent return to successful filmmaking at the studio, which has suffered somewhat in recent years. Between Disney/Pixar's win with animated movie Cars and now Pirates, things continue to look up on a side of the conglomerate's business that had been an anchor to otherwise stellar results.

Disney shares climbed 44 cents, or 1.5%, to $30.27 on Monday.

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