THEATER OWNERS: WHERE DID EVERYONE GO?

During a weekend that saw the overall box office decline by 28 percent from the comparable weekend a year ago, Paramount's Disturbia remained at the top of the list with $13 million, 41 percent below its take a week ago. It was the third hit of the year for Paramount, which finished fifth among the six major studios in total ticket sales in 2006. Another Paramount movie, Blades of Glory remained on the top-ten list for a fourth week as it took in $7.7 million to bring its total gross past the $100-million mark. The real stand-out for the weekend, however, was Focus/Rogue's spoof Hot Fuzz, which debuted with $5.8 million in just 825 theaters. That's an average of $7,089 per theater versus $4,015 for the top film, Disturbia. In a modest, second-place debut, New Line's Fracture took in $11 million. However, Sony's horror flick Vacancy opened in a lot of nearly vacant theaters with just $7.6 million. Even worse was the debut of Warner Bros.' In the Land of Women, which landed in eighth place as it brought in only $4.7 million.

The top ten films over the weekend, according to final figures compiled by Media by Numbers (figures in parentheses represent total gross to date):

1. Disturbia, Paramount, $13,010,778, 2 Wks. ($40,205,142); 2. Fracture, New Line, $11,014,657, (New); 3. Blades of Glory, Paramount, $7,677,569, 4 Wks. ($100,951,439); 4. Vacancy, Screen Gems, $7,603,376, (New); 5. Meet the Robinsons, Disney, $6,967,089, 4 Wks. ($82,089,959); 6. Hot Fuzz, Focus Features, $5,848,464, (New); 7. Are We Done Yet?, Sony, $5,181,426, 3 Wks. ($39,572,201); 8. In the Land of Women, Warner Bros., $4,712,341, (New); 9. Perfect Stranger, Sony, $4,104,808, 2 Wks. ($18,072,926); 10. Wild Hogs, Disney, $2,820,440, 8 Wks. ($156,161,335).

TICKET SALES FOR SPIDER-MAN 3 TAKE OFF EARLY

With widespread rumors circulating that Spider-Man 3 has become the most costly movie ever produced, Sony Pictures may be taking some comfort in reports that advance ticket sales for the movie are likely to hit a record. Reuters said today (Tuesday) that online ticket sellers Movietickets.com are reporting that tickets for the movie are selling at three times the rate of Spider-Man 2 and that Fandango.com is selling them at four times the rate. Dozens of showings scheduled for midnight on May 3rd have already sold out, according to the wire service. Meanwhile Radar magazine, citing unnamed industry insiders, reported Monday that Sony spent $350 million to produce the film, a figure disputed by producer Laura Ziskin. "Spider-Man 3 was a super-expensive movie -- the most expensive film we've ever made. But there's no way you can get to $300 million," she told Radar.

SPIDEY ALREADY AVAILABLE IN CHINA

Spider-Man 3 may not be scheduled to debut in U.S. theaters until May 3 (midnight showings), but pirated copies of the movie are already being bootlegged in China, Reuters reported today (Tuesday). The wire service observed that DVD copies of the movie are selling for about one dollar and sport cover art that appears to have been copied from posters widely available online. And, in the Chinese equivalent of chutzpah, there is even a warning on the package against making copies. Meanwhile, Chinese officials today lashed out against the decision by the U.S. to file formal complaints with the World Trade Organization concerning unbridled piracy in China. At a conference in Beijing on intellectual property rights Wu Yi, China's top trade official, said, "These moves [by the U.S.] betray the consensus reached by China and the U.S. to resolve trade issues through dialogue."

SALES OF DVD'S PLUNGE TO LOWEST LEVEL EVER

The first quarter of the year was the worst ever for home video sales in the DVD era, Daily Variety reported today (Tuesday) as it cited a report by Video Business that sales fell 5.1 percent to $5.6 billion during the quarter. Rentals, however, were down only 1 percent. Nevertheless, executives of studio home-video units told the trade publication that business has picked up considerably in the second quarter and blamed a weak release schedule on the earlier downturn.

Cinemark Movie Club
Brian B.