CAN KNIGHT BEAT TITANIC?

The Dark Knight has come within striking distance of displacing the original Star Wars as the second-highest-grossing movie of all time. Final weekend figures released by Media by Numbers on Monday indicated that the latest Batman sequel grossed $26.1 million over the weekend to keep it at No. 1 for the fourth consecutive week. It has now grossed $441.32 million, or about $20 million short of Star Wars' achievement. However, it's far behind the George Lucas classic when inflation is taken into account. If tickets in 1977, when Star Wars came out, had cost what they do today, the movie would have earned $1.23 billion -- an amount The Dark Knight has no chance of equaling. (When adjusted for inflation the top film of all time is Gone With the Wind, which would have made $1.26 billion in today's dollars.) Analysts also suggest that it has no chance of equaling the $600 million (unadjusted for inflation) that Titanic took in a decade ago. Indeed Warner Bros. distribution chief Dan Fellman conceded as much in an interview appearing in today's (Tuesday) Hollywood Reporter. "Titanic was once in a lifetime, and I don't think we'll ever have another gross like that in the history of the industry," Fellman said.

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. The Dark Knight, Warner Bros., $26,117,030, 4 Wks. ($441,628,497); 2. Pineapple Express, Sony, $23,245,025, 1 Wks. ($41,318,736 (From Wednesday); 3. The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, Universal, $16,490,970, 2 Wks. ($71048920); 4. Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2, Warner Bros., $10,678,430, 1 Wks. ($19,620,128 (From Wednesday); 5. Step Brothers, Sony, $9,128,662, 3 Wks. ($81132136); 6. Mamma Mia!, Universal, $8,208,580, 4 Wks. ($104,144,505); 7. Journey to the Center of the Earth, Warner Bros., $4,871,478, 5 Wks. ($81,775,323); 8. Hancock, Sony, $3,317,450, 5 Wks. ($221,726,791); 9. WALL-E, Disney, $3140083, 7 Wks. ($210,206,582); 10. Swing Vote, Disney, $3,125,290, 2 Wks. ($12,020,828).

SHOULD MOVIES BE RELEASED ON DVD AND VOD ON SAME DAY?

The leading film studios have split over the question of whether to release movies on video-on-demand (VOD) on the same day they do so on DVD, the New York Post reported today (Tuesday). According to the newspaper, Warner Bros. and Sony want to do a "day and date" release; Paramount, Disney and 20th Century Fox do not. In an interview with the newspaper, Peter Chernin, COO of News Crop, the parent company of Fox, said, "We still have some concerns that it may cannibalize our DVD business. ... What's paramount in our mind is protecting our overall margins, and we certainly don't want to be overly aggressive until we're sure that any move like that is going to be margin accretive." On the other hand, Jeff Bewkes, CEO of Time Warner, the owner of Warner Bros., said that its tests indicate there is no reason for such concern. "We think that since we haven't seen cannibalization on sell-through, that it's going to increase margins and profitability going to day-and-date," Bewkes said.

THERE'S STILL LIFE IN THAT 1942 FILM

Warner Bros. has announced plans for what it is calling the "Ultimate Collector's Edition" of the 1942 Humphrey Bogart-Ingrid Bergman classic Casablanca, considered by many film historians as being among the greatest movies ever made. The set is due to be released on conventional DVD and Blu-ray on December 2 and will include copies of executive memos written while the film was being made, a booklet about the film, a passport holder and luggage tag, and a mail-in offer for a poster. The package will also include the documentaries Bacall on Bogart, You Must Remember This: A Tribute to Casablanca, and As Time Goes By: The Children Remember. A separate disc will offer the 1993 documentary Jack L. Warner: The Last Mogul.

SOUNDTRACK OF UNRELEASED MOVIE COMING 34 YEARS LATE

Thirty-four years after an obscure R&B group, The Final Solution, recorded a soundtrack for a blaxploitation film called Brotherman, the music from that film is going to be released, the New York Sun reported today (Tuesday). The movie itself was never released, the Sun said. According to the newspaper, one of the stand-out features of the recording is the guitar performance by Carl Wolfork, who also produced the recording. It noted that his guitar performance was intended as a temporary background for the singers until the entire recording could be dubbed over with a violin section. "What irony then," said the Sun, "that the failure of the film's producers to get it into theaters helped preserve the real genius of this soulful obscurity."

Brian B.