THE OLD GRIND AIN'T WANT IT USED TO BE

A funny thing happened on Grindhouse's way to becoming the top film of the weekend. Well, actually three funny things -- the holdover comedies Blades of Glory and Meet the Robinsons and the newcomer Are We Done Yet? Grindhouse came in a disappointing fourth, earning just $11.6 million -- half the gross that analysts had predicted. By contrast, Glory dropped only 30 percent in its second weekend, raking in an estimated $23 million and bringing its total to 68.4 million. In second place, the animated Robinsons dropped just 32 percent to earn $17 million and bring its total to $52.2 million. Are We Done Yet?, a remake of Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House with Ice Cube in the Cary Grant role, debuted with $10.1 million. And then there was the Quentin Tarantino/Robert Rodriguez "double bill" Grindhouse. Analysts had mixed explanations for the film's disappointing performance. Family films traditionally dominate the Easter weekend, they observed. Some noted that Grindhouse was up against another horror flick, The Reaping, starring Hillary Swank (which came in fifth with $10.1 million). Others noted that the effort to release Grindhouse, packaged as an old-fashioned double feature complete with fake previews, likely went over the heads of the younger crowd which dominates the movie market. Still others noted that the complete package lasts more than three hours, limiting the number of times it can be shown in theaters. In an interview with the Associated Press, Harvey Weinstein, whose The Weinstein Co./Dimension Films released the movie, said: "If you go see it with any audience, walk into any theater, you'll see people screaming and applauding like a rock concert. ... Maybe we didn't educate the audience that it's such an experience." In a separate interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Weinstein said, "It got such great reviews and such great [audience] scores, that it's baffling." Meanwhile, in limited release, Miramax's The Hoax, starring Richard Gere, opened in 235 theaters to an estimated $1.5 million. Overall, the top 12 films took in an estimated $113 million, up 9.7 percent from the comparable week a year ago.

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

1. Blades of Glory, $23 million; 2. Meet the Robinsons, $17 million; 3. Are We Done Yet?, $15 million; 4. Grindhouse, $11.6 million; 5. The Reaping, $10.1 million; 6. 300, $8.8 million; 7. Wild Hogs, $6.8 million; 8. Shooter, $5.8 million; 9. TMNT, $4.9 million; 10. Firehouse Dog, $4 million.

300 WINS OVERSEAS; BEAN, A CLOSE SECOND

Expanding into 6,500 theaters in 61 countries, the fantasy/history epic 300 was the No. 1 film overseas over the Easter weekend, taking in $32 million and beating last week's winner, Mr. Bean's Holiday, which placed second with $30.1 million in 4,300 theaters. However, on a per-theater basis, the Roland Atkinson comedy led with $6,976 to 300's $4,923. Both films are also expected to perform solidly today (Monday), a holiday in many countries.

MPAA WANTS TO USE SUBTERFUGE TO CATCH PIRATES

The MPAA wants to be exempted from a proposed California law that would bar anyone from making false statements in order to get personal information about Internet users. Saturday's Los Angeles Times reported that the MPAA, joined by the recording industry's RIAA, said that it is sometimes necessary for its investigators to use subterfuge in order to gain information about online pirates -- for example, by pretending to be potential accomplices. Without such an exemption, the MPAA argued, the law would "prevent MPAA's anti-piracy department and contract investigators, who gather evidence to bring legal actions against criminals who counterfeit and steal motion pictures and other works, from employing certain long-employed techniques to obtain information."

DISNEY CONSIDERING NEW THEME PARK IN CHINA

The Walt Disney Co. is planning to build a second theme park in China to augment the one it already has in Hong Kong -- but where it will be and whether it will duplicate the Disneyland model has still not been determined, a Disney official said in Beijing Sunday. Wing T. Chao, vice-chairman of Asia Pacific Development at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, told the Xinhua News Agency: "We are sure to build a second park in China in the long run, but we are now reviewing the market and yet to work out the location and specific construction plans." It had previously been reported that Disney was considering a site in Shanghai.

Cinemark Movie Club
Brian B.