CRUISE FINDS NEW BACKERS

It didn't take long for Tom Cruise and his production partner Paula Wagner to find others to back their production company after Paramount dumped it. The two said Monday that they had secured financing from First and Goal LLC, headed by Washington Redskins owner Daniel M. Snyder, Six Flags Inc. Chairman Mark Shapiro and NVR Inc. Chairman Dwight Schar. Today's (Tuesday) Los Angeles Daily News said that the three had agreed to put up $3 million. In a statement, Wagner said, "We are entering into what we know will be a profitable relationship with unlimited creative and financial potential." However, finding a company to cover the overhead of Cruise/Wagner Productions is one thing. Finding financing for their movies is quite another thing. Today's Los Angeles Times reported that Cruise/Wagner Productions had been attempting to find another home at a Hollywood studio without success, with three studios turning down the company's terms. One agency executive told the newspaper: "This [deal] feels very Plan C, maybe even Plan D. When you lose your studio deal and you get into business with amusement parks, that's a problem."

INVINCIBLE IS

Disney's Invincible lived up to its name as the feel-good football flick earned a better-than-expected $17 million over the weekend, chalking up more than twice the ticket sales of its closest competitor, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, which earned $8.1 million. Last week's winner, Snakes on a Plane, slithered all the way down to seventh place. The road-trip comedy Little Miss Sunshine finished in third place with $7.4 million as it expanded to 1,430 theaters. The debuting Beerfest tanked with just $7 million from 2,964 locations.

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

1. Invincible, Disney, $17,031,122, (New); 2. Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, Sony, $8,122,642, 4 Wks. ($127,806,521); 3. Little Miss Sunshine, Fox Searchlight, $7,371,263, 5 Wks. ($22,895,257); 4. Beerfest, Warner Bros., $7,031,228, (New); 5. World Trade Center, Paramount, $6,473,299, 3 Wks. ($55,642,517); 6. Accepted, Universal, $6,344,475, 2 Wks. ($20,986,355); 7. Snakes on a Plane, New Line, $6,167,366, 2 Wks. ($26,319,390); 8. Step Up, Disney, $6,163,436, 3 Wks. ($50,395,874); 9. Idlewild, Universal, $5,745,780, (New); 10. Barnyard, Paramount, $5,652,932, 4 Wks. ($54,930,100).

SONY DELAYS BLU-RAY PLAYERS UNTIL OCTOBER

Sony now plans to release a Blu-ray high-definition DVD player in the U.S. in October and a combination recorder-player in Japan later in the year, the company announced in Tokyo today (Tuesday). The delay will give Toshiba's rival HD-DVD player a six-month headstart over Sony. Samsung released a Blu-ray player in the U.S. in June, but few have turned up on retailers' shelves. Kiyoshi Nishitani, the Sony executive who oversees Sony's Blu-ray business, declined to state how much Sony's player will cost. The battle between Sony and Toshiba's incompatible formats is likely to keep sales for both down, analysts said. "DVD sales will go down this year because consumers know about high definition but they don't know which format to buy," Netflix Chairman Reed Hastings told today's Los Angeles Times. "The problem with picking sides is that creates consumer anxiety, and so they'll just stop buying, period, or slow down their buying."

Cinemark Movie Club
Brian B.