GREY PREDICTS HE'LL WORK WITH CRUISE AGAIN

After a week of silence, Paramount Chairman Brad Grey has finally commented on the decision by his boss, Sumner Redstone, to cut off ties with Tom Cruise's production company. In an interview with Newsweek magazine, Grey said, "Sumner is a maverick. He said what he felt, and that's his prerogative. He certainly didn't ask my permission, and I'm certain, knowing Sumner as I do, that he felt no obligation to. He built the place." (In fact, Paramount is Hollywood's oldest studio, founded in 1913, ten years before Redstone was born.) Remarkably, Grey indicated that Cruise might yet be asked to return to the studio. "I still admire Tom Cruise," he told Newsweek. "He's a huge movie star and a great actor, and I'm sure we'll work together in the future." Paula Wagner, Cruise's production partner, seemed receptive to the idea, saying she would consider making another Mission: Impossible feature at Paramount. "If it's the right script, why not?" she said.

FEEL-GOOD SPORTS MOVIE SCORES TOUCHDOWN

The Walt Disney Co., whose formula for turning out successful inspirational sports movies ranks right up there with its formula for turning out successful cartoons, saw its latest football drama Invincible become, well, invincible at the box office this weekend. The movie, which stars Mark Wahlberg in the role of a real-life Philadelphia teacher and bartender who made the 1976 Eagles' roster in 1976, grossed an estimated $17 million, well above analysts' estimates. The Will Ferrell comedy Talladega Nights remained in second place, grossing about $8 million. The real surprise was Little Miss Sunshine, which finished third with $7.5 million as it moved into 1,430 theaters after a slow, "platform" release over the past three weeks. Taking fourth place was the critically lambasted Beerfest, which failed to reach even the low expectations of most analysts, as it debuted with just $6.5 million. Spiraling down to sixth place from the top spot a week ago was Snakes on a Plane, which dropped 58 percent to gross $6.4 million. Coming in ninth was the new musical Idlewild. Although it grossed an estimated $5.9 million, it played in just 973 theaters and its per-theater average of $6,064 was the highest among films in general release. The kids' flick How to Eat Fried Worms finished out of the top ten with only $4.1 million.

The top ten films for the weekend, according to studio estimates compiled by Exhibitor Relations:

1. Invincible, $17 million; 2. Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, $8 million; 3. Little Miss Sunshine, $7.5 million; 4 Beerfest, $6.5 million; 4 (tie). Accepted, $6.5 million; 6. Snakes on a Plane, $6.4 million; 7. World Trade Center, $6.39 million; 8. Step Up, $6.2 million; 9. Idlewild, $5.9 million; 10. Barnyard, $5.4 million.

PIRATES STILL CAPTURING BOOTY OVERSEAS

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest may have dropped out of the top ten at the domestic box office for the first time this weekend, but it continued to rule the waves overseas, grossing an estimated $17.8 million to bring its international total to $554.7 million. In the U.S. and Canada, its total take now stands at $407.6 million, making it No. 6 on the all-time box-office list. It passed the original Spider-Man this weekend.

REINER DEMANDS GIBSON APOLOGIZE FOR ANTISEMITIC PASSION

Actor-director Rob Reiner Friday called upon Mel Gibson to acknowledge that his The Passion of the Christ reflected his anti-Semitic proclivity. Jewish leaders had condemned the film -- one of the most successful of all time -- for its odious portrayal of the Jews' involvement in Christ's arrest and crucifixion. In an interview with Associated Press Radio, Reiner said that once Gibson makes such an acknowledgement, it "will be the beginning of some reconciliation for him." Reiner said that it was not enough for Gibson simply to apologize for the drunken, anti-Semitic rant that he let loose following his DUI arrest in Malibu last month. Gibson, Reiner said, must "understand why it is [he's] anti-Semitic and where those feelings came from."

Brian B. at Movieweb
Brian B.