With sales of Blu-ray high-definition video discs three times those of rival HD DVDs and with some retailers even refusing to stock HD DVDs, analysts were puzzling Monday over an announcement by Paramount/DreamWorks to release movies in the future exclusively in the HD DVD format. Some openly speculated that a fix was in -- that the HD DVD group had paid Paramount/DreamWorks a significant fee to secure exclusivity for their format. Andy Parsons, who heads the promotions committee of the Blu-ray Disc Association, fell short of accusing the HD DVD association of bribing the recently conjoined studios, saying that "we can only imagine what could have enticed Paramount to walk away from a format that is clearly selling significantly more software than the HD-DVD format." Several analysts suggested that the real loser will be high-definition video generally, with consumers reluctant to buy new players for either format until one or the other wins out. That could take a long time, Jan Saxton of Adams Media Research told the Los Angeles Times. "Most people are not aware that the original video format [battle] between Betamax and VHS lasted 10 years," he said.


Sunday's ticket sales for Sony's Superbad practically equaled Saturday's. The result was that the film's actual weekend gross wound up almost $2 million higher than the studio had estimated. Sony attributed the $33.05-million final count to "fantastic word-of-mouth." Two other films, however, flopped in their debuts. Warner Bros.' The Invasion, a remake of The Invasion of the Body Snatchers, starring Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig, earned just $5.95 million, while The Last Legion from the Weinstein Co., set during the decline of the Roman empire, declined and fell to only $2.75 million. Meanwhile, last week's No. 1 film, New Line's Rush Hour 3, dived to second place, falling 57 percent in its second week to $21.35 million, barely edging out the third week of Universal's The Bourne Ultimatum, which took in $19.87 million and placed third. Overall, the box-office tallied $130 million in total ticket sales, up 17.4 percent over last year's total of $110.7 million for the comparable weekend.

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. Superbad, Sony, $33,052,411, (New); 2. Rush Hour 3, New Line, $21,353,361, 2 Wks. ($87,676,529); 3. The Bourne Ultimatum, Universal, $19,874,370, 3 Wks. ($164,694,690); 4. The Simpsons Movie, 20th Century Fox, $6,829,648, 4 Wks. ($165,271,443); 5. The Invasion, Warner Bros., $5,951,409, (New); 6. Stardust, Paramount, $5,651,343, 2 Wks. ($19,493,894); 7. Hairspray, New Line, $4,502,455, 5 Wks. ($100,805,456); 8. Underdog, Disney, $3,848,791, 3 Wks. ($31,927,488); 9. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Warner Bros., $3,656,379, 6 Wks. ($278,762,117); 10. I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, Universal, $3,601,545, 5 Wks. ($110,484,335).


It was disclosed Monday that William Tuttle, who worked as a makeup artist at MGM for 35 years and headed the studio's makeup department, died at age 95 on July 27 in Pacific Palisades, CA. In 1965 he received an honorary Oscar for his work in The 7 Faces of Dr. Lao (17 years before the Academy began handing out Oscars for makeup). He also worked on the memorable 1960 episode of The Twilight Zone titled "Eye of the Beholder" in which a beautiful woman undergoes plastic surgery on another planet by surgeons who resemble pigs. Other films for which Tuttle created the makeup include: Young Frankenstein, The Time Machine, An American in Paris, North by Northwest, Gigi,and Logan's Run.


Two dogs, Lucky and Flo, trained for the MPAA to sniff out pirated CDs and DVDs, have been awarded medals by the Malaysian government for discovering 1.6 million disks, the Sydney (Australia) Morning Heraldsaid today (Tuesday).