MARVEL SHOWS SUPERHERO STRENGTH

In a rare quarterly report showing solid profits, Marvel Entertainment said that it earned $63.0 million on $224.3 million of gross revenue in its fourth quarter, compared with $27.6 million on $109.3 million during the comparable quarter a year earlier -- a 128-percent increase in profits. More than $136 million came from sales of Iron Man DVDs. "In addition to providing a substantial contribution to our operating results, our 2008 theatrical releases have raised the level of global awareness for Marvel and two of our key brands," Marvel's chairman, Morton Handel, said in a statement. On Tuesday, the company announced that it now plans to open its Spider-Man musical on Broadway on February 18, 2010. It's the third time that the opening has been delayed. With a budget $31.3 million, it is reportedly the most expensive production ever mounted on the Great White Way.

DREAMWORKS TAKES A TUMBLE

DreamWorks Animation on Tuesday joined the list of media companies reporting steep profit declines in the fourth quarter. Profits fell 45 percent to $52 million on revenue of $200 million. Attempting to put a positive spin on the results, the company pointed out that figures in the previous year were boosted by sales of the Shrek the Third DVD. CFO Lew Coleman told investors during a conference call Tuesday that the results represented "our most successful non-Shrek year as a pubic company." He further noted that box-office receipts from King Fu Panda and Madagascar: Escape to Africa "togther exeeded $1.2 billion, a 12 percent incease over our 2007 total."

CHICAGO NAMED BEST CITY FOR MAKING MOVIES

The best city in which to be making movies is Chicago, according to MovieMaker magazine. Top reason: Illinois's 30-percent tax credit for film production. Although the magazine noted that major studios have been taking advantage of the tax credit to produce such films as The Dark Knight and the upcoming Public Enemies in Chicago, it noted that independent filmmakers have also discovered the advantages of shooting there. But Rich Moskal, director of the Chicago Film Office, remarked that there were other reasons that Chicago topped the list. "It's not just one thing," he said. "It's the city's multiple strengths and assets that truly make Chicago a workable and desirable place for independent filmmakers." Ranking second on the list is Atlanta; New York came in third, Shreveport, LA, fourth, and Albuquerque, fifth.

NEW YORK POST DROPS LIZ SMITH

In the latest cost-cutting move by newspapers, the New York Post is dropping Liz Smith, the doyenne of newspaper gossip columnists, effective on Thursday Although some 70 other newspapers carry her column, including Daily Variety, the post was regarded as Smith's flagship outlet. "I'm OK for a person who's been let go," she told the Associated Press. In an interview with entertainment industry reporter Sharon Waxman on Waxman's blog, The Wrap, Smith remarked facetiously, "They are going to save the New York Post by firing me. ... They'll save my salary. It'll put them right in the black. They're only losing $30 million a year. So they can economize." Smith said that the Post pays her $125,000 a year. "I am surprised they let me go," she told Waxman. "I don't think it's in their best interest."

PIRATE BAY TRIAL REPORTEDLY NOT GOING WELL FOR PROSECUTION

Prosecutors and industry lawyers in The Pirate Bay trial in Stockholm, Sweden today (Wednesday) altered several key charges against the four defendants, which legal observers suggested could raise the likelihood of conviction. Several technical websites covering the trial commented that many of the prosecution's witnesses from the movie and recording industries lacked knowledge of the BitTorrent technology and were therefore unable to link The Pirate Bay directly to illegal downloads. They also indicated that they had not attempted to take action against anyone uploading the pirated material. The principal accusation against the defendants, however, is that they facilitated copyright infringement by directing users to copyrighted material.