STUDIOS RETURNING TO SUPER BOWL

Hollywood's major studios, many of whom decided to buy station-break spots in select local markets during last year's Super Bowl rather than shell out $2.5 million or more for spots on the network telecast, have decided to return to the main telecast, Daily Variety reported today (Thursday). Each spot during the game, to be televised Feb.3 on Fox, has been sold for between $2.7 million and $3 million. Variety attributed the studios' decision to Fox's plan for a red-carpet pregame special in which host Ryan Seacrest will interview stars from the films being promoted in the ads. Fox is offering ad buyers a package deal that gives them a MySpace.com page as a bonus.

PIRATES RECALL

In what amounts to a recall of its high-definition Blu-ray edition of Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Disney has informed purchasers that it will replace the discs with ones that correct a framing problem. The website High-Def Disc News reported that the framing problems "wreaked havoc with the film's intended compositions." According to the website, replacements have been pressed and will be shipped free to consumers requesting them within two business days. Those wishing replacements were advised to call Disney's customer service line at 800-723-4763.

VATICAN "CONSOLED" BY POOR BOX OFFICE FOR COMPASS

In an editorial packed with schadenfreude, the Vatican newspaper l"Osservatore Romano said that it found the mediocre box office for New Line's The Golden Compass "consoling." The film had been denounced in America by the Catholic League, the country's largest Catholic lay group, as an introduction to atheism. Although the film itself has no overt anti-religious message the Philip Pullman book trilogy on which it is based, does, and the Catholic League had expressed concern that children who were expossed to the movie would be drawn to the book. "In Pullman's world, hope simply does not exist, because there is no salvation but only personal, individualistic capacity to control the situation and dominate events," Wednesday's editorial said. The editorial also took note of reports that poor returns for the movie would discourage the studio from producing a sequel. "If that should happen, it wouldn't be a big loss," the newspaper said.

FORMER THAI OFFICIAL RESIGNS FOLLOWING BFF KICK-BACK CHARGES

Following FBI accusations Tuesday that she accepted $1.7 million in kickbacks from the U.S. couple who staged the Bangkok Film Festival (BFF) for four years, Juthamas Siriwan abruptly resigned today (Thursday) as deputy leader of the Puea Pandin Party, the Bangkok Post reported on its website. On Wednesday she also withdrew her candidacy in next week's elections for a seat in Thailand's parliament. "Juthamas has resigned in a show of responsibility," said Puea Pandin party spokesman Wachiramon Kanakasemthanawat. "Her resignation will facilitate a transparent investigation into her case." Juthamas had previously served as head of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, the government agency responsible for the BFF. Her resignation comes on the heels of reports that the FBI had arrested Gerald and Patricia Green on charges of violating the corrupt practices act by bribing Juthamas in order to receive the lucrative contract to manage the film festival. Juthamas has denied the charges.

ANGOLAN OFFICIAL DECRIES KILLING OF ACTORS

A top Angolan official has denounced police who killed two actors and injured others while a scripted robbery scene was being shot in a suburb of Luanda, the capital. Interior Minister Roberto Leal Monteiro described the shooting as an "undue use of firearms." In an interview with the BBC's Portuguese Service, the director of the film described the sudden arrival of police at the location site, who immediately began firing at the actors, who were carrying unloaded weapons. "They went on shooting until I shouted out: 'Please don't shoot, this is a movie,'" he said.

CANADIAN RAID NETS THOUSANDS OF BOOTLEG DVD'S

Two separate raids by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Wednesday on alleged counterfeit DVD operations in Montreal netted thousands of DVDs and more than 200 DVD burners, the RCMP said. The raids were reportedly the culmination of an operation dubbed Operation Copyright aimed at bootleggers who reportedly sold the disks through a number of websites. Earlier this year, the Motion Picture Association of America claimed that Canada was the source of a quarter of all camcorded DVDs distributed worldwide.

Cinemark Movie Club
Brian B.