TRAFFIC SLOWS FOR RUSH HOUR 3

Ordinarily a film that grosses $49.1 million in its opening weekend is considered a probable moneymsker, but some box-office analysts are suggesting that the results for Rush Hour 3 are not only disappointing but probably point to an inevitable loss for Time Warner-owned New Line. They point out that the film cost more than $100 million (some suggest it cost as much as $150 million) to make and that as much as 40 percent of the gross has been promised to the two stars and the director -- including 20 percent that will go to Chris Tucker, 15 percent to Jackie Chan and 5 percent to director Brett Ratner. (The movie sold one-third fewer tickets than Rush Hour 2 did six years ago.) Meanwhile, last week's top film, The Bourne Ultimatum, slipped to second place in its second weekend with $32.9 million, while The Simpsons Movie moved to third place in its third weekend with $11.3 million. Three other films that opened over the weekend were outright flops. Paramount's Stardust, which reportedly soared way over budget to close to $200 million, earned just $9.2 million. Sony's Daddy Day Camp, which had initially been planned as a low-budget, straight-to-video release, earned just $3.4 million, while the horror film Skinwalkers took in a mighty skinny $753,520 (to come in at No. 17 on the list of top attractions).

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. Rush Hour 3, New Line, $49,100,158, (New); 2. The Bourne Ultimatum, Universal, $32,879,125, 2 Wks. ($131,552,425); 3. The Simpsons Movie, 20th Century Fox, $11,269,651, 3 Wks. ($152,381,993); 4. Stardust, Paramount, $9,169,779, (New); 5. Hairspray, New Line, $6,396,666, 4 Wks. ($92,139,670); 6. Underdog, Disney, $6,352,377, 2 Wks. ($24,643,289); 7. I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, Universal, $5,877,915, 4 Wks. ($103,777,170); 8. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Warner Bros., $5,432,130, 5 Wks. ($272,047,388); 9. No Reservations, Warner Bros., $3,855,029, 3 Wks. ($32,025,018); 10. Daddy Day Camp, Sony, $3,402,678, (New).

INTERACTIVE FEATURES TO ENHANCE DISNEY'S CARS

Disney is touting its November 6 Blu-ray DVD release of Pixar's Cars as the "High-Definition Event of the Year," with plans to include several "groundbreaking" interactive features on the disc. One of these will be a "Car Finder" game in which viewers "race the clock" to find one of 214 models of cars hidden throughout the movie. Other interactive features are described in a trailer posted online at http://disney.go.com/disneyvideos/bluray. In a picture-in-picture feature called "Cine-Explore," director John Lasseter acts as a guide, describing how scenes of the movie were made while viewers watch them.

DICAPRIO FINDS "SECRET" TO BECOMING PAPARAZZI-PROOF

Leonardo DiCaprio says he has found "the secret" to turning away the paparazzi and staying out of the tabloids: make a documentary about global warming. In an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times, DiCaprio, whose documentary, The 11th Hour, is scheduled to open on August 24, remarked, "The tabloids and the paparazzi don't care what I have to say about global warming or getting away from dependency on fossil fuels. ... I think I've just bored them into leaving me alone."

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND AIMS TO BECOME NEW HOLLYWOOD

A group of filmmakers in Manchester, England say that want to turn Britain's second-largest city into "a whole little Hollywood." According to the Manchester Evening News, the group, calling themselves Not a Number, is attempting to raise $1.8 million from local investors to produce a commercial horror flick titled Splintered. Any investor putting $100,000 into it will automatically be invited to appear in the film as an extra. "We want to prove that you can raise funds to support new films here ... and that you don't have to go to America," Not A Number co-founder Rachel Richardson-Jones told the newspaper. Splintered was selected as the company's first production, she said, inasmuch as "we have identified that the horror genre works on lower budgets and is potentially profitable while also currently popular with audiences." Richardson-Jones emphasized that she views the project as a business, not art. "One of the problems with film production in the U.K. is that it has been perceived as high-risk, because investors think it will all revolve around an artistic, expressive director. But I'm a businessperson and a shareholder, and I want these films to make money. I've left a full-time job for this. [Splintered is] a good story, it will sell well, and I believe in it."

Cinemark Movie Club
Brian B.