CYRUS BEST OF NON-SUPER BOWL WORLD

The only thing harder than a Super Bowl ticket to get hold of over the weekend was one to a screening of Hannah Montana and Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert. The movie, which played on only 683 screens, took in an estimated $29 million, or an average of $42,500 per theater. Analysts could not recall any film opening in fewer than 1,000 theaters performing as well. It was also the best opening for any film over a Super Bowl weekend. The box office take was boosted by the near-doubling of ticket prices and the elimination of children's discounts in many theaters. Moreover, Disney announced that it would (as expected) extend its run through Valentine's day -- and said that it expected repeat business. Media by Numbers President Paul Dergarabedian told Bloomberg News, "It's amazing to witness the incredible box-office clout of young women. Girls rule this Super Bowl weekend." Debuting in second place, Lionsgate's horror film The Eye, starring Jessica Alba, brought in about $13 million. However, Over Her Dead Body, the only other movie to open wide over the weekend, tanked with just $4.6 million, failing even to make the top ten. Last week's winner, Meet the Spartans, plummeted to fifth place in its second weekend, with just $7.1 million. With a combined take of $102 million for the top 12 films, the box office was up more than 40 percent from last year's Super Bowl weekend. Thus far for the year, sales are up 15 percent; attendance, 10.8 percent.

The top ten films for the weekend, according to studio estimates compiled by Media by Numbers:

1. Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert, $29 million; 2. The Eye, $13 million; 3. 27 Dresses, $8.4 million; 4. Juno, $7.5 million; 5. Meet the Spartans, $7.1 million; 6. Rambo, $7 million; 7. The Bucket List, $6.9 million; 8. Untraceable, $5.4 million; 9. Cloverfield, $4.9 million; 10. There Will Be Blood, $4.8 million.

MOVIE REVIEWS: THE EYE

Lionsgate did not screen The Eye for critics -- apparently assuming that they would loathe it. As it turned out, they were right. Not only did they not like the movie, several did not even like Jessica Alba, whose cover image has sold millions of men's magazines. Peter Howell in the Toronto Star warned: "Strapping lads who flock to The Eye hoping to lay peepers upon a bikini-clad Jessica Alba are in for a cruel disappointment." Jan Stuart in Newsday suggested it's a disappointment in more ways than one. He calls her "a vapid beauty with a singular gift for making bad acting look effortless. What the movie really wants," Stuart commented, "is someone with the personality quirks to make a dopey script look credible." Roger Moore in the Orlando Sentinel faulted her for giving "a flat, utterly unaffecting performance." And Wesley Morris in the Boston Globe commented, "As a performer, Alba still seems to be figuring out what she's good at."

STRIKE SETTLED?

Rumors began circulating through the Internet over the weekend that a "breakthrough" had been achieved in negotiations between the Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. By late Sunday, the speculation had been picked up by several newspapers, wire services and trade publications, leading WGA officials to issue a message to their members saying, "Please disregard rumors about either the existence of an agreement or its terms. ... Picketing will resume on Monday. Our leverage at the bargaining table is directly affected by your commitment to our cause." The message did not spike the speculation about a settlement. The Los Angeles Times, citing three people close to the talks,reported that a final contract was likely to be presented to the WGA board as early as Friday. Likewise, the Associated Press and Daily Variety reported that a deal might be announced "within a week." Several reports credited the intervention of Disney CEO Robert Iger and News Corp CEO Peter Chernin for breaking the deadlock in the dispute, which has kept writers on the picket lines since last November.

CABLE SUBSCRIBERS GET MOVIES SAME DAY AS DVD'S -- EXCEPT ...

Subscribers to Cablevision, which primarily serves the New York City area, will be able to watch Universal and Warner Bros. movies via the cable-TV system on the same day they are offered for sale on DVD. But there's a catch. They'll also have to buy the DVD. Cablevision has partnered with Popcorn Home Entertainment in the deal, which requires customers to sign up via the Internet. They can then order movies via Cablevision's video-on-demand service using the remotes on their TV sets, watch the movie via the cable system, and receive the DVD a few days later. Ordinarily movies are not available on video-on-demand systems until 30-45 days after their release on DVD.

NO COUNTRY RECEIVES ANOTHER TOP AWARD

The Coen Brothers' No Country for Old Men raised its Oscar odds over the weekend by winning the Producers Guild of America's best feature film award. Scott Rudin and Ethan and Joel Coen added the Darryl F. Zanuck producer of the year award to a shelf-full of other top prizes, including those from the Directors Guild of America and the Screen Actors Guild. Michael Moore's Sicko received the PGA's award for best documentary, while Disney-Pixar's Ratatouille won the award for best animated film. Meanwhile, ABC News reported that No Country for Old Men has emerged as the favorite among overseas gambling websites. (Such sites are not legal in the U.S.)

BLACK FILM FESTIVAL ANNOUNCES WINNERS

The unreleased Kings of the Evening, set in the Depression era, dominated the San Diego Black Film Festival awards Sunday. The film won for best film, best director (Andrew P. Jones), and best supporting actor (Glynn Turman). Turman also received the festival's Award of Merit. J. Neil Schulman's Lady Magdalene's, starring Star Trek veteran Nichelle Nichols, won the award for "best cutting-edge film."

Brian B.