It's now official: the Friday the 13th/Valentine's Day/President's Day weekend produced the biggest February weekend in box-office history. According to final figures released by Media by Numbers Tuesday, the box office was up 31 percent over the same four-day holiday period last year to a sensational $220 million. Leading the parade was Warner Bros.' Friday the 13th with $43.6 million -- the most ever raked in by a so-called slasher flick. Also showing decent numbers was the debuting Confessions of a Shopaholic,which took in $17.8 million. According to Walt Disney Pictures, the film's audience was 74 percent female and 51 percent under the age of 25. However, a third film premiering over the weekend, The International,failed to strike a chord with moviegoers, even though it was billed as a ripped-from-the-headlines thriller about villainous international bankers. It wound up with a modest $10.7 million. Meanwhile, Paul Blart: Mall Cop became the first "original" film released in January ever to cross the $100-million mark (the only other film to do so was 1997's Star Wars Special Edition.)

{@@@[email protected]@@}{@@@[email protected]@@}The top ten films over the three-day/four-day weekend, according to final figures compiled by Media by Numbers (figures in parentheses represent total gross to date):

1. Friday the 13th, Warner Bros., , $40,570,365/$43,585,449, (New); 2. He's Just Not That Into You, Warner Bros., $19,518,465/$22,329,489, 2 Wks. ($57,797,957); 3. Taken, Fox, $18,985,260/$21,821,805, 3 Wks. ($80,496,557); 4.Coraline, Focus, $14,783,157/$18,851,635, 2 Wks. ($39,087,556); 5.Confessions of a Shopaholic, Disney, $15,066,360/$17,809,053, (New); 6. Paul Blart: Mall Cop, Sony/Columbia, $10,983,319/$13,574,024, 5 Wks. ($112,388,524); 7.Pink Panther 2, Sony/MGM, $8,513,476/$10,767,724, 2 Wks. ($24,088,718); 8 . The International, Sony/Columbia, $9,331,739/$10,702,613, (New); 9. Slumdog Millionaire, Fox Searchlight, $7,284,808/$8,705,948, 14 Wks. ($88,101,863); 10. Push, Summit Ent. $6,863,022/$7,982,366, 2 Wks. ($20,376,794.


While some analysts were attributing last weekend's box-office success to the need of many Americans to seek low-cost entertainment during the recession, Broadway, where seats sometimes sell for 100 times what a movie ticket goes for, also enjoyed a big boost over the Presidents Day holiday. According to Variety, the long-running The Lion King took in $1,050,722 million, while Billy Elliotrang up $1,054,838 and the stage version of Mary Poppins registered $784,125. And Will Ferrell's act as George Bush in You're Welcome America broke a house record with $846,507.


Sony Ericsson said Tuesday that it will launch a subscription-based movie-rental service later this year for their mobile phones. The service will become part of Sony Ericsson's recently announced Entertainment Unlimited service, which already offers music and games for downloading via its PlayNow utility (not yet available in the U.S.). The content can also be shared with TV sets, game devices, and personal computers. In a statement, Sony Ericsson global marketing chief Lennard Hoornik said that the Entertainment Unlimited service will give "consumers unlimited opportunities to share their entertainment experiences."


Although he appeared to agree that the prosecution and judge in Roman Polanski's 1977 trial engaged in "substantial misconduct," Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Peter Espinoza on Tuesday said that he could not rule on the misconduct matter without Polanski being present in court. Espinoza said that he would give the fugitive director until May 7 to appear before him -- an unlikely circumstance given that prosecutors have already stated that he will be arrested if he returns. Polanski himself has said that he will never return to the U.S. He fled to his native France in 1978 before being sentenced in Los Angeles for unlawful sexual intercourse with a 13-year-old girl. Before his ruling on Tuesday, Judge Espinoza viewed the documentary Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired, in which L.A. deputy D.A. David Wells told how he had coached the original judge, Laurence Rittenband (who died in 1993) before the sentencing.


In its annual "Economic Forecast & Industry Outlook," the Los Angeles Economic Development Corp. has predicted a small uptick in the number of jobs in the film business and a small loss of jobs in broadcasting in Southern California this year. Although the LAEDC said that it expects the recession to bottom out towards the end of this year, difficulties will continue to plague the local movie business, the report said. In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter,Jack Kyser, founder of the Kyser Center for Economic Research at the LAEDC, said, "Runaway production of feature films could get worse. ... Everybody and their dog is offering incentives, but there are still no incentives from the state of California, so what you're seeing is that ever more filming is being done out of state."