SEPTEMBER IN APRIL AT BOX OFFICE

There was likely to be hand-wringing aplenty at the studios today (Monday) in the aftermath of a weekend in which the top film earned less than $10 million and the top 12 movies took in a combined $62.9 million. Ordinarily, that's the kind of box-office total that analysts expect in September, when kids return to school. Spider-Man 3, which opens Friday, is expected to earn twice that amount -- on its own -- next weekend. For the third week in a row, the Shia LeBeouf peeping Tom horror flick Disturbia held on to the No. 1 position. It's the first time a movie has performed a box-office hat trick since December 2004. Disney's The Invisible opened in second place with $7.6 million. Audiences appeared tired of seeing Nicolas Cage in second-rate movies. His Next debuted in third place with $7.2 million, resulting in Paramount first outright dud this year.

The top ten films for the weekend, according to studio estimates compiled by Media by Numbers:

1. Disturbia, $9.1 million; 2. The Invisible, $7.6 million; 3. Next, $7.2 million; 4. Fracture, $7.1 million; 5. Blades of Glory, $5.2 million; 6. Meet the Robinsons, $4.84 million; 7. Hot Fuzz, $4.8 million; 8. Vacancy, $4.2 million; 9. The Condemned, $4 million; 10. Are We Done Yet?, $3.4 million.

FILM GOES STRAIGHT TO HI-DEF VIDEO

For the first time, a movie is being released straight to high-definition video. According to the online High-Def Disc News, the horror film Bell Witch will debut on both the Blu-ray and HD DVD formats on August 15. In a news release, director S. Shane Marr said that the movie had originally been shot using high-definition digital cameras and edited on digital post-production equipment five years ago. However, he said, "We decided to hold the film until it could be released in HD so that people could see it as it was meant to be viewed."

SPIDER-MAN 3 TO SCREEN AT MIDNIGHT THURSDAY

Sony reportedly is adding numerous midnight screenings of Spider-Man 3 on Friday (actually Thursday night). In some megaplexes where a single print can be spooled out from one projection booth to another, the movie is being released on several screens virtually at the same time. Meanwhile, a South Korean theater chain is creating a web of its own for the digital debut of Spider-Man 3 in Seoul and Pusan, the country's two largest cities, tonight (Tuesday, Korean time). Megabox-Cineplex said that the movie will be delivered to the theaters' digital projection systems from a centralized server, using the theater owners' own fiber-optic cable, thereby reducing the chance that hackers or pirates can intercept it.

BRITISH TV SERIES MAY BECOME U.S. MOVIE

Second Sight, a popular BBC detective series about a detective feverishly attempting to solve a murder after learning that he is going blind -- and trying to hide that fact from his superiors -- may be made into a theatrical movie by Universal, Daily Variety reported today (Monday). The TV series -- which appeared on PBS's Masterpiece Theater in the U.S. -- originally starred Clive Owen in the role of the visually impaired detective. But Variety said that Owen has not been signed to the theatrical version.

TARANTINO GRINDING OUT NEW VERSION OF HORROR FLICK

Grindhouse, the Robert Rodriguez-Quentin Tarantino homage to the horror films of the 1960's and '70s faces the prospect of a DVD release only in Britain, following its box-office failure in the U.S., the London Independent on Sunday reported. The newspaper said that the film is also being axed in other countries. "All is not yet lost, though," the newspaper observed, noting that Tarantino is cutting his half of the movie, Death Proof, and submitting it in competition at the Cannes Film Festival, which opens in two weeks.

Cinemark Movie Club
Brian B.