From the beginning of the year through the 26th of April, generally regarded as the slowest period of the year for domestic box office, some $3.06 billion in ticket sales have been recorded, a record for the period, according to box-office trackers Media by Numbers. Total revenue is up 17.37 percent over last year, when the box office gross stood at $2.61 billion at this point. Attendance is up 15.60 percent. By contrast, last year revenue was down 2.66 percent from the previous year, while attendance was down 5.41 percent. Last weekend's box office, led by Sony's low-budget Obsessed,which raked in $28.61 million, was up 30.28 percent above the same weekend a year ago.

{@@@[email protected]@@}{@@@[email protected]@@}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. Obsessed, Sony, $28,612,730, (New); 2. 17 Again, Warner Bros., $11,518,495, 2 Wks. ($39,823,333); 3. Fighting, Universal, $11,024,370, (New); 4. The Soloist, Paramount, $9,716,458, (New); 5. Earth, Disney, $8,825,760, (New); 6.Monsters Vs. Aliens, Paramount, $8,520,826, 5 Wks. ($175,813,830); 7. State of Play, Universal, $6,848,885, 2 Wks. ($25,081,890); 8. Hannah Montana: The Movie, Disney, $6,437,141, 3 Wks. ($65,655,057); 9. Fast & Furious, Universal, $6,204,940, 4 Wks. ($145,367,040); 10. Crank: High Voltage, Lionsgate, $2,618,379, 2 Wks. ($11,735,952).


The ink had hardly dried on the documents setting forth the terms of the merger of two of Hollywood's top talent agencies -- The William Morris Agency and Endeavor -- when several top agents from both the companies announced that they would go it alone. They included Tom Strickler, one of Endeavor's four founders. In reporting the defections, the Los Angeles Timescommented that they are likely to represent "the tip of the iceberg, as the new goliath, called William Morris Endeavor Entertainment, combines operations and eliminates staff. ... Some speculate that as many as 100 agents could lose their jobs." An unnamed network business affairs chief told the Times'entertainment blog Company Town," "This really is a cost-reduction exercise. ... These two agencies realize they have to be leaner to make the kind of money they want to make." WMA's Jim Wiatt will serve as chairman of the new company, while the CEO position will be shared by Endeavor founder Ari Emanuel, Endeavor managing partner Patrick Whitesell, and WMA President Dave Wirtschafter.


The Weinstein Company may attempt to prevent Lionsgate from screening Precious, which received the Audience Award and the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival this year (when it was titled Push), in the Un Certain Regard section at this year's Cannes Film Festival, the Hollywood Reporterreported today (Tuesday). TWC has claimed in court documents that it had concluded a deal for distribution rights to the film at Sundance and had all but signed the final papers when Lionsgate stepped in and made a counter offer, which the filmmakers accepted.


Twentieth Century Fox has canceled Wednesday's Mexico City premiere of X-Men Origins: Wolverine, citing the swine flu, which has claimed more than 150 lives in that country. Hugh Jackman, who stars in the title role, had been expected to attend the gala, which the studio says will be "postponed." Peoplemagazine quoted a Fox spokesperson as saying, "We were not only concerned about Hugh's welfare -- and we would never send anyone into harm's way -- but we also have an enormous office filled with people we care about. ... There was no point in proceeding under the current conditions." Many Mexican theater chains have shut down for the duration of the health crisis.


Lions Gate has found a way to augment the number of films it can distribute to theaters while at the same time holding down expenses, which have threatened to topple it. It announced Monday that it had signed a deal with Relativity, a production and financing company, to distribute its films through 2015. Relativity will pay all production costs, share marketing costs with Lions Gate, and pay Lions Gate a fee to distribute its movies. The deal will allow Lions Gate to slash its own production slate. Analysts regarded the deal as a win-win proposition for both sides and suggested that it would make corporate raider Carl Icahn's effort to take control of Lions Gate more difficult.


General Electric's GE Global Research unit announced that it has developed the next generation in laser disc technology that will allow storage of 500 gigabytes of information on a single disc -- or the equivalent of 20 high-definition Blu-ray discs or 100 DVDs. The disc, which GE describes as micro-holographic, makes use of the entire thickness of the disc rather than merely the surface. "The day when you can store your entire high-definition movie collection on one disc and support high-resolution formats like 3-D television is closer than you think," said Brian Lawrence, head of the company's holographic storage program. GE said that it is working on a way to store more than twice the amount of data on the micro-holographic discs. In addition, it said that players for the discs will be backwards compatible -- that is, also able to play standard CD, DVD, and Blu-ray discs.