’s nice to see Disney and the Pirates of the Caribbean cabal aren’t at all upset by having to cede bragging rights for The Biggest Three-Day Opening Ever to Spider Man 3.

Oh, never mind. The studio has just announced their plans to premiere the film a few hours early on Thursday, May 24th at 8 PM in order to give the six-hour epic a badly-needed additional showtime without which it might not be able to challenge Spider-Man 3‘s gargantuan $151 million opening weekend take. As for why Thursday evening screenings count as part of the three-day gross, you’ll have to go back to The Matrix Reloaded‘s Wednesday night screenings in 2003 to contend with that odd precedent. But since the studios all flout the same rules, no one at Sony is going to complain.

Besides, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End isn’t going to break Spider-Man 3‘s record anyway. Not only is it too long at 165 minutes (Dead Man’s Chest ran a slightly more manageable 150 minutes), it’s also got some residual disappointment to deal with from the last movie. This may sound absurd given the last picture’s $423 million domestic haul and muscular DVD sales, but Dead Man’s Chest was a little too dour for some folks’ tastes, and the considerably darker trailer for At World’s End leads me to believe that some families might stay away on opening weekend.

Then again, it is a holiday weekend, and parents will probably capitulate for fear of their kids ginning up molestation charges against them should they fail to trundle their bratty asses out to the other biggest movie of May not called Spider-Man 3 or Shrek The Third. Look for At World’s End to settle for bumping off Revenge of the Sith as the biggest four-day opening ever (a very attainable $158 million). I’ll actually be more interested to see how well the less-than-loved Spidey 3 and Shrek 3 are performing by Memorial Day weekend.