CLOSE FINISH AT BOX OFFICE

The top of the weekend box office was crowded tightly as just over $3 million separated the leading three films. Sony's Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby remained the No. 1 film for the second week in a row with $22 million, somewhat lower than original estimates. Disney's Step Up debuted with a stronger-than-expected $20.6 million, while Oliver Stone's World Trade Center placed third with $18.7 million. (Since its debut on Wednesday, it has earned $26.5 million.) The Dimension horror film Pulse debuted with a so-so $8.2 million, while Sony's Tim Allen comedy Zoom tanked with just $4.5 million.

The top ten films over the weekend, according to final figures compiled by Exhibitor Relations (figures in parentheses represent total gross to date):

1. Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, Sony, $22,126,226, 2 Wks. ($90,343,184); 2. Step Up, Disney, $20,659,573, (New); 3. World Trade Center, Paramount, $18,730,762, 1 Wk. ($26,531,879) (From Wednesday); 4. Barnyard, Paramount, $9,701,882, 2 Wks. ($33,717,980); 5. Pulse, Weinstein Co. $8,203,822, (New); 6. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, Disney, $7,237,927, 6 Wks. ($392,431,781); 7. Miami Vice, Universal, $4,706,430, 3 Wks. ($55,271,380); 8. The Descent, Lionsgate, $4,616,462, 2 Wks. ($17,543,574); 9. Zoom, Sony, $4,510,408, (New); 10. Monster House, Sony, $3,285,771, 4 Wks. ($63,663,488),

SONY HAS HARMER IN THE DELL

Sony Corporation, which has been making a steady comeback in its electronics and entertainment divisions, was hit hard Monday when it was announced that it would share the costs with Dell Inc. for the recall of 4.1 million laptop computer batteries that may explode in flames. The recall, expected to cost upwards of a quarter billion dollars, followed a report in the Wall Street Journal on Monday observing that such batteries pose a particular threat to airliners. The recall would be the largest in the history of the consumer electronics business, reports said. Nevertheless, shares in Sony rose 1.5 percent higher at midday today (Monday). In an interview with Bloomberg News, Mitsuhiro Osawa, an analyst at Mizuho Investors Securities Co. in Tokyo, said, "Market reaction to the news has been weak because it is difficult to measure the impact of the recall."

SHATNER TO RETURN AS CAPT. KIRK -- IN VIDEO GAME

Forty years after first appearing in the original Star Trek TV series, William Shatner will again play the role of Captain James T. Kirk for the video game Star Trek: Legacy, due to be released in October. According to a press release from Bethesda Softworks, the game will span all of the franchise's series and also feature the voices of Patrick Stewart (Star Trek: The Next Generation), Avery Brooks (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine), Kate Mulgrew (Star Trek: Voyager), and Scott Bakula (Star Trek: Enterprise). The press release noted that the game will allow players to test their "strategic and tactical skills in real-time combat featuring over 60 authentic spaceships, full damage modeling, and spectacular visual effects." It can be played by one player "or in the extensive multiplayer mode with a group of friends online."

SUPERSTAR MOVIE CAST REUNITED ON STAGE

He may have been only 28 years when he starred in the movie version of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Jesus Christ Superstar -- about the presumed age of Jesus at the time of the crucifixion -- and 61 years old today, but Teddy Neeley reportedly brought the house down when he and two other stars of the film appeared for a benefit stage performance of the rock opera on Sunday night. Reporting on the cast reunion, the Los Angeles Times observed today (Tuesday): "The advanced age of the show's veterans could not wither the response of the faithful, who showered the performers with continuous rapturous ovations. ... Some audience members pumped their fists and screamed as if the Rolling Stones had just walked into the auditorium." Also appearing in the production were Ben Vereen, who played Judas in the original Broadway production (Carl Anderson, who played the role in the movie died in 2004), and Jack Black, who played King Herod.

Cinemark Movie Club
Brian B.