Third 'Pirates' lands at USA


USA Network's "Pirates of the Caribbean" trilogy is now complete.

The network has acquired cable rights to "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End," the third installment of the film franchise starring Johnny Depp, from Disney-ABC Domestic Television.

The acquisition makes sense as USA already has rights to the first two installments, 2003's "Curse of the Black Pearl" and last year's "Dead Man's Chest," which featured a cliffhanger ending.

Sources said USA paid $25 million-$30 million for the third "Pirates" film, more than the estimated $20 million-$25 million that the network paid for the second "Pirates." Both USA and Disney-ABC Domestic Television declined comment on the financial terms of the deal.

Under the agreement, USA has the network window premiere to the third "Pirates" beginning in September 2009.

"This acquisition completes USA's ownership of rights to the 'Pirates' trilogy, and we couldn't be more thrilled," USA senior vp programming Jane Blaney said. "It's one of the most popular franchises in film history, and our viewers have made it clear that it's a favorite of theirs."

The 2006 premiere of "Curse of the Black Pearl" gave USA its best ratings for a theatrical movie in the network's history and was the highest-rated movie in five years in the adults 25-54 demo.

The network announced the acquisition of "Dead Man's Chest" in the summer; those rights kick in in fall 2008.

"At World's End," which set boxoffice records last weekend as the biggest opener ever for a Memorial Day weekend, has taken in about $173.6 million since it opened May 25 (previews started at 8 p.m. May 24).

The movie was produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and directed by Gore Verbinski from a screenplay written by Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio.