STUDIOS HOPE TO MAKE DEAL WITH DIRECTORS

Following its decision to break off discussions with the Writers Guild of America for the time being, the Association of Motion Picture and Television Producers is now seeking early talks with the Directors Guild of America in hopes that a favorable settlement with the DGA would set the framework for a deal with the Screen Actors Guild and force the WGA into line as well, published reports observed. "Once one of these organizations does a deal, the others tend to fall into place," one studio executive told today's (Tuesday) London Financial Times. "It will put more pressure on the writers." Meanwhile, the WGA and the AMPTP continued to fire verbal rounds at one another on Monday. In what Daily Variety described as an "incendiary" statement, WGA East President Michael Winship said of the studio negotiators "They lie. And then they lie again. And then they lie some more." For its part the AMPTP maintained that the WGA's claim that the talks broke down over new-media issues was untrue. The cause, it said, was "the desire of the WGA's organizers to increase their own power and prestige by expanding the jurisdiction of the union over reality television and animation writers."

COMPASS NEEDS GPS

New Line Cinema's The Golden Compass traveled even farther off course than originally estimated, taking in a total of $25.78 million over the weekend for an average of $7,308 per theater. Disney's Enchanted took the runner-up spot with $10.71 million. Every other film earned less than $5 million. The Catholic League, which had urged a boycott of Compass, took credit for the film's disappointing performance. Kiera McCaffrey, a spokeswoman for the organization, told MarketWatch.com, "It looks like people voted with their feet on this." But Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracker Media By Numbers, attributed it to a slow marketplace and so-so reviews. On the other hand, the film played very well overseas, where it took in $55 million. In fact, there appeared to be no general slump in the foreign box office, which saw Enchanted coming in second with $11.6 million (bringing its overseas total to $35.8 million) and Bee Movie coming in third with $10.1 million.

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. The Golden Compass, New Line, $25,783,232, (New); 2. Enchanted, Disney, $10,709,515, 3 Wks. ($83,868,421); 3. This Christmas, Sony Screen Gems, $4,961,083, 3 Wks. ($42,721,264); 4. Fred Claus, Warner Bros., $4,608,314, 5 Wks. ($65,536,922); 5. Beowulf, Paramount, $4,536,667, 4 Wks. ($76,119,822); 6. No Country For Old Men, Miramax, $4,116,888, 5 Wks. ($28,744,592); 7. August Rush, Warner Bros., $3,510,446, 3 Wks. ($25,133,572); 8. Hitman, Fox, $3,488,135, 3 Wks. ($35,822,721); 9. Awake, MGM, $3,327,369, 2 Wks. ($10,743,207); 10. The Mist, MGM, $2,629,290, 3 Wks. ($23,477,175).

ANOTHER AWARD FOR COEN BROS. FILM

The Coen Bros.' No Country for Old Men was named best picture by the New York Film Critics Circle on Monday. The group awarded its best actor award to Daniel-Day Lewis for his performance in There Will be Blood and its best actress award to Julie Christie for Away from Her. It named France's controversial Persepolis best animated film. Meanwhile, the San Francisco Film Critics Circle, in a surprise, selected The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford as best movie of 2007. George Clooney was named best actor for his performance in Michael Clayton, while Julie Christie was named best actress for Away From Her.

PORN PRODUCER SUES PORN YOUTUBE

Vivid Entertainment, a leading producer of pornographic movies, is following closely in the footsteps of major film producers and suing a video website for copyright violation. In its report about the lawsuit -- filed against PornoTube, a kind of X-rated version of YouTube -- the Los Angeles Times observed today (Tuesday) that it echoes Viacom's suit against YouTube. "The question at the heart of both cases is just how hard a website must work to ensure that users don't post videos belonging to someone else," the Times observed. Vivid also contends in its lawsuit that PornoTube fails to "comply with certain provisions of the federal Child Protection and Obscenity Enforcement Act requiring proof of age of performers."

LG DELIVERS HYBRID HIGH-DEF PLAYER

Korean electronics giant LG said Monday that its high-definition disk player BH200, capable of playing both HD DVD disks and Blu-ray disks, is now available in retail electronics stores throughout the U.S. as well as on online sales sites. An earlier hybrid model failed to offer interactivity support and was criticized for that omission. The new dual-format player carries a whopping retail price of $999 -- more than the combined cost of individual HD DVD and Blu-ray players when purchased separately.

Cinemark Movie Club
Brian B.