BLUE STORES DEEPER IN RED

Shares of Blockbuster took another hit Thursday as it reported a $44.7-million loss in the last quarter, worse than analysts had expected. It blamed the loss on the costs of closing unproductive stores (it dumped 233 of them last year) severance pay to laid-off employees, and the legal costs incurred in its failed effort to take over Circuit City Stores. On the other hand, it said, sales at its remaining 7,619 stores rose 9 percent in the quarter, leading CEO James Keyes to predict that the company would wind up with a profit of $21-36 million for the year. "To paraphrase Mark Twain, the demise of Blockbuster has been greatly exaggerated," Keyes said.

PERELMAN PAYS $80 MILLION TO SETTLE MARVEL LAWSUIT

In a settlement that neither side applauded, investor Ron Perelman has agreed to pay $80 million to bring to an end a lawsuit filed in 1997 in which he is accused of diverting $553.5 million from Marvel Entertainment, which he controlled at the time, to some of his other companies before Marvel filed for bankruptcy in 1996. Of the $80 million, $25.9 million will go to cover legal expenses incurred over the 11 years since the suit was filed. It has been bouncing around the federal court system ever since. Litigation trustees issued a statement saying that they believed it would have been "irresponsible" for them to reject the $80-million settlement, while attorneys for Perelman, the head of Revlon, said that he wanted "to settle the action solely to avoid the burden, expense and uncertainty of continued litigation."

HOPPER COMPLAINS HE WAS "CUT OUT" OF SWING VOTE

Dennis Hopper may seem to have mellowed considerably since his days as Hollywood's enfant terrible in the late '60s and '70s, but he is still capable of biting the hand that feeds him. In an interview with the New York Daily News's "Rush & Molloy" column, Hopper complains that many of his scenes in the Kevin Costner movie Swing Vote ended up on the proverbial cutting-room floor. Hopper,who plays a Democratic presidential candidate in the film, says that he "got cut out of the movie. ... My [character's ] subplot was completely cut. ... When I saw the final cut, I thought, 'I'm not even in this movie!'" Neither Costner, the director, Joshua Stern, nor the distributor, Disney, would comment on Hopper's complaint.

MOVIE REVIEWS: BRIDESHEAD REVISITED

Hoping to present itself to that segment of the moviegoing audience that prefers to see a little more class on screen, director Julian Jarrold's film adaptation of Evelyn Waugh's novel Brideshead Revisited is expanding to 364 theaters this weekend. As Claudia Puig observes in USA Today, it's a movie for "those who are weary of summer's bawdy comedies and superheroes." Unfortunately, despite its impressive pedigree, it has not been welcomed enthusiastically by critics. A.O. Scott in the New York Times, who compares it with the PBS miniseries that aired in 1982, says that while the new production is "more cinematic" than the older one, "it is also tedious, confused and banal." Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun-Times observes that while the TV series was "inspired," the movie is "somewhat less inspired." He concludes, "While elegantly mounted and well acted, the movie is not the equal of the TV production, in part because so much material had to be compressed into such a shorter time." Like most of his colleagues, Joe Morgenstern in the Wall Street Journal compares the movie with the TV series and can't figure out why anyone even attempted to make the movie. "If it's a choice between the movie's 135 minutes or the 659 minutes of the miniseries (which has been re-mastered and re-released in a lavish four-disk edition), I'd say it's no choice at all. The shorter version is the one that seems long," he writes. And Kyle Smith in the New York Post simply dismisses the entire production as a "well-polished relic."

Brian B.