TIME WARNER REVENUE UP -- NO THANKS TO MOVIES

Time Warner surprised analysts today (Wednesday) as it reported a 5.2-percent rise in profits for the second quarter to $1.07 billion versus $1 billion a year ago. Overall sales rose 6 percent to $11 billion. Profits from its Warner Bros. and New Line film units declined a whopping 43 percent to $81 million, however. Analysts blamed to costs to market Ocean's 13, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, and Rush Hour 3, all opening in the third quarter. The dismal results from its film units were offset by solid results in its cable division. With Adelphia Communications' bevy of cable operators added to its own Time Warner Cable unit, sales shot up 59 percent and operating profit, 31 percent.

FOR DREAMWORKS ANIMATION, SHREK IS KING

Shrek produced plenty of shekels -- not to mention pounds, euros, yen, and dollars -- for DreamWorks Animation during its second quarter as the company reported net income of $61.8 million, up 351 percent from the $13.7 million it reported during the same quarter a year ago. In a statement, DreamWorks Animation chief Jeffrey Katzenberg said, "The strong financial quarter was driven primarily by the performance of Shrek the Third, which was the biggest domestic opening for an animated film in the history of the movie industry." The company also observed that the movie is likely to continue to produce strong results in the third quarter, when overseas ticket sales are taken into account, and in the fourth quarter when the DVD version is released.

EBERT, SISKEL, AND ROEPER'S REVIEWS GO ONLINE

Some 5,000 movie reviews by film critics Roger Ebert, Richard Roeper and the late Gene Siskel will be available on the Internet beginning Thursday at http://www.AtTheMoviesTV.com. Ebert, who is currently unable to speak following a tracheostomy two years ago, issued a statement on Tuesday saying, "For years, this was a dream. ... Now I am exhilarated that it is a reality, thanks to the enormous effort of digitizing something like 1,000 programs." The site will also feature recent reviews from guest critics who have filled in for Ebert since his recent operations.

VENICE FILM FESTIVAL TO HAND OUT GAY AWARD

The Venice Film Festival plans to present a Queer Lion award this year to the best movie either in competition or in any sidebar screenings that effectively features a gay theme or character, the festival said Tuesday. "We aren't looking for the next Brokeback Mountain, the competition's director, Daniel Casagrande, told the Hollywood Reporter. "We are just looking for films that accurately portray gay characters or themes."

CRONENBERG FILM TO OPEN LONDON FESTIVAL

Canadian director David Cronenberg's thriller Eastern Promises has been set to open the London Film Festival on October 17. The movie, set in London, features Viggo Mortensen as a member of the Russian Mafia in London and Naomi Watts as a nurse looking into the death of a Russian girl who had been working as a prostitute for the Russian gangsters. The film reteams Cronenberg with Mortensen who previously appeared in the director's History of Violence. Festival director Sandra Hebron said in a statement, "This gripping, powerfully directed and acted story of lives colliding in contemporary London is the perfect opener."

Brian B. at Movieweb
Brian B.