LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Even before it opened, ``Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End'' already had one box-office record in hand.
The third film in the ``Pirates'' franchise officially opens Friday in an all-time high of 4,362 theaters domestically, 110 more than the previous record-holder, ``Spider-Man 3.''
Released by the Walt Disney Co., ``Pirates of the Caribbean'' now aims to snatch back the record for best debut it lost this month to ``Spider-Man 3,'' the Sony Corp. blockbuster that pulled in $151.1 million over opening weekend.
That debut shattered last summer's record of $135.6 million set by ``Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest.''
The length of ``At World's End'' _ two hours, 47 minutes _ will be a hurdle, limiting the number of screenings theaters can fit in each day. The movie runs about 15 minutes longer than ``Dead Man's Chest'' and nearly half an hour longer than ``Spider-Man 3.''
``At World's End'' also faces stiffer competition than ``Spider-Man 3,'' which had no other big movies to contend with when it opened May 4. Besides ``Spider-Man 3,'' the animated blockbuster ``Shrek the Third'' will be competing with ``At World's End'' for audiences.
Along with the higher theater count, ``At World's End'' has the advantage of opening over the Memorial Day weekend, which should boost its Sunday grosses since movie-goers have the day off Monday.
That gives the ``Pirates'' sequel a better chance to beat the Friday-through-Sunday receipts for ``Spider-Man 3,'' which opened over a non-holiday weekend.
To get a jump on the official release date Friday, many theaters scheduled early screenings of ``At World's End'' at 8 p.m. Thursday. Once it opens, the movie will be running around the clock at some cinemas to meet audience demand, said Chuck Viane, head of distribution for Disney.
``We hear there are theaters that once they open tonight will be open for 24 straight hours,'' Viane said Thursday.