USA Will Open Dead Man’s Chest

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In a 4 1/2-year deal valued at $20 million-$25 million, USA Network has acquired the debut fall 2008 television window for Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, which opened this past weekend with the highest-grossing three-day box office total in history at more than $135 million.

The NBC Universal network is expected to wind up paying about 12% of the domestic box office gross for the cable rights to the sequel. USA had been considered the front-runner since it has the cable rights to the first Pirates movie, The Curse of the Black Pearl, which debuts at 8 p.m. Saturday.

Once Buena Vista Television hammers out the broadcast-network component of the deal, the duration of the various cable windows will be determined.

In announcing the acquisition at today’s Television Critics Assn. press tour in Pasadena, Calif., Jane Blaney, USA’s senior VP, programming, says “no film fits our brand better than Pirates.”

The latest Pirates movie from Jerry Bruckheimer Films, which reunites Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley, surpassed the previous three-day record-holder, Spider-Man, by almost $21 million.

It also smashed more box office records than any other movie in recent history, including biggest single-day haul and opening day ($55.5 million on Friday). Pirates is the first film to rake in $100 million in two days.

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