i>LEATHERHEADS LOSES MORE YARDAGE

As expected, Universal's George Clooney starrer Leatherheads was thrown for a bigger loss than studio executives had predicted. The period football comedy, which many analysts had suggested would be a sure winner at the box office over the weekend, came in a disappointing third with only $12.7 million. Analysts had forecast a $15-20-million take for the film. Second place went to the Jodie Foster family film Nim's Island from 20th Century Fox, which opened with $13.2 million. Holding on to the top spot was Sony's gambling flick 21, which raked in $15.3 million. Although comparisons with last year's box office was difficult because it fell on the Easter holiday then, analysts said that the overall gross was down significantly from the comparable weekend in recent years.

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. 21, Sony/Columbia, $15,337,418, 2 Wks. ($46,77,0,173); 2. Nim's Island, 20th Century Fox, $13,210,579, (New); 3. Leatherheads, Universal, $12,682,595, (New); 4. Horton Hears A Who!, 20th Century Fox, $9,115,987, 3 Wks. ($131,076,768); 5. The Ruins, Paramount, $8,003,421, (New); 6. Superhero Movie, MGM, $5,417,920, 2 Wks. ($16,899,661); 7. Tyler Perry's Meet The Browns, Lionsgate, $3,418,255, 3 Wks. ($37,662,502); 8. Drillbit Taylor, Paramount, $3,405,937, 3 Wks. ($25,490,483); 9. Shutter, 20th Century Fox, $2,830,336, 3 Wks. ($23,138,277); 10. 10,000 B.C., Warner Bros., $2,797,409, 5 Wks. ($89,649,915).

CRUISE FILM MOVED TO FEBRUARY -- A BAD SIGN?

The decision by MGM and United Artists to delay the release of the Tom Cruise starrer Valkyrie until next February has raised a lot of eyebrows in Hollywood. The film was originally set for release on June 27, then moved to October to place it in contention for Oscar nominations -- in particular, one for Cruise, who has been nominated three times (once for best supporting actor, twice for best actor). But the film has been plagued with nasty rumors -- in particular, one claiming that Cruise's German accent in the film is laughably bad. (He plays the leader of a plot by German generals to assassinate Hitler during World War II.) A release in February lessens the film's chances for Oscar recognition, but Clark Woods, MGM's distribution chief, told Daily Variety, "Having seen a lot of the film and how great it is going to play once it's finished, moving into a big holiday weekend is the right move." However, several movie columnists have noted that President's Day is not "a big holiday weekend" and that the studio likely slotted it into that period because the competition will be weak. In the meantime, they added, the delay would give the studio added time to reshoot scenes and allow Cruise to work with a dialect coach to perfect his accent and rerecord some of his lines.

AMPTP SAYS IT EXPECTS TO SIGN A DEAL WITH SAG

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, the group that negotiates labor contracts with the movie studios and television networks, said Monday that it expects to sign a contract with the Screen Actors Guild that will essentially be modeled after those already negotiated with the writers' and directors' unions. "If our industry relies on this new framework, we can all avoid more harmful and unnecessary strikes," the AMPTP statement said. However, SAG leaders have criticized the previously signed contracts for its provisions on DVD residuals and payments for work shown on the Internet. In fact the guild has been so adamant in its stand on those matters that studios are refusing to start production on any film unless it can be assured that it will be completed by the end of June when the SAG contract expires.

PITT PAYS HIS OWN WAY ON TEXAS LOCATION SHOOT

The independently produced Tree of Life, written and directed by Terrence Malick (The New World, The Thin Red Line, Days of Heaven), is being shot in Texas on such a tight budget that the two stars, Sean Penn and Brad Pitt, are being required to pay for their own travel accommodations, MSNBC.com's "Scoop" column reported Monday. The column indicated that the film's production company had arranged to have both Pitt and Penn stay at the same hotel, the Hyatt Lost Pines near Austin, TX, but that "Pitt's people" balked at the $2,000-a-night tab and initially offered to pay $3,000 for the entire one-month's stay -- a figure that the hotel declined. Pitt and Angelina Jolie opted instead to rent a house near the shooting location, the column said.

21 GOOD FOR GAMBLING SITE

The website GamblingResort.com, where travelers can book hotel reservations and access casino information at numerous gambling resorts throughout the country, is crediting the movie 21 with increasing traffic on its site. In a statement, the website said, "The movie has no doubt remotivated the gambler to try his luck at the tables sooner rather than later." The website notes that 21 was filmed at casinos in Las Vegas including the Red Rock, Planet Hollywood and the Riviera. Links to Google maps on its site give directions to those casinos.

GEFFEN NAMED MOST POWERFUL GAY MOGUL

DreamWorks co-founder and music mogul David Geffen tops a list of the 50 Most Powerful Gay Men and Women in America released Monday by the gay publication Out magazine. A brief profile of Geffen quotes producer Howard Rosenman as having once remarked, "If you're his enemy, you might as well kill yourself." Placing second on the list is CNN anchor Anderson Cooper, whose rise "heralded the simultaneous demise of the Dan Rather-Tom Brokaw era of dry efficiency." The magazine made no mention of the fact that Cooper has steadfastly refused to discuss his sexual orientation. Third on the list is someone who certainly has done so -- Ellen DeGeneres. "The fact that seemingly everyone loves an out-and-proud lesbian makes her powerful -- that and the $65 million she's reportedly worth," the magazine said.

Brian B. at Movieweb
Brian B.