A cursed swashbuckler here, a desperate clownfish there, and Disney (NYSE:DIS) lands a surprisingly buoyant year at the box office. How buoyant? It's the first to top $3 billion in annual global box office receipts. Pirates of the Caribbean and Finding Nemo each bested $300 million -- another first. No studio ever released such popular bookends.

But box-office records are made to be broken. With ticket prices inching higher, it's really just a matter of time until we're writing about the $4 billion year. The previous record was Sony's (NYSE:SNE), just last year as Spider-man helped the studio sling some celluloid magic.

But take nothing away from Disney. When the company announced that it would be making live-action movies themed loosely to its park's original attractions, it raised more than a few eyebrows. When the first release -- The Country Bears -- tanked last year, few figured that Pirates would emerge as the summer blockbuster.

After all, can you name a popular pirate movie without naming Errol Flynn? Cursed buccaneers? Isn't that what Tampa Bay has been on the football field this season? And the stakes are high; movies are big business as monsters like Time-Warner (NYSE:TWX), Viacom (NYSE:VIA) and Vivendi (NYSE:V) lay out big budgets in hopes of landing a big picture.

Beyond the run at the multiplex, a successful release continues to rake in the buried treasure in home video and DVD release, as well as future network broadcasts. Done right, a hit flick can also become a franchise with no-brainer sequels.

Fittingly, Disney hit the $3 billion mark the day after Pirates sailed into the home video and DVD market. The movie is presently the top seller at Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN). So , what's the second fastest mover at the popular online store? You guessed it. More than a month after its release, Nemo is hooking the silver.

What did you think of Pirates of the Caribbean and Finding Nemo? Is Disney going to remain out front, or will this be a catch and release? Will Haunted Mansion pad those results? All this and more -- in the Disney discussion board. Only on Fool.com.