SUPER BOWL THROWS THEATERS FOR A LOSS

The box office had much in common with the Chicago Bears over the weekend as both suffered brutal losses. While much of the country prepared for Super Bowl parties on Friday and Saturday and stayed home to watch the game on Sunday, movie theaters remained nearly empty, even by past Super Bowl weekend comparisons. The No. 1 film was the horror flick Messengers, which took in an estimated $14.5 million, down 31 percent from the $21 million raked in by last year's When a Stranger Calls during the comparable weekend. The Diane Keaton starrer Because I Said So came in second with $13 million. Last week's top film, Epic Movie, slid to third place with $8.2 million.

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

1. The Messengers, $14.5 million; 2. Because I Said So, $13 million; 3. Epic Movie, $8.2 million; 4. Night at the Museum, $6.75 million; 5. Smokin' Aces, $6.3 million; 6. Stomp the Yard, $4.2 million; 7. Dreamgirls, $4 million; 8. Pan's Labyrinth, $3.7 million; 9. The Pursuit of Happyness, $3.1 million; 10. The Queen, $2.7 million.

DIRECTORS GUILD HONORS SCORSESE

Placing him into position as the frontrunner in this year's Oscar contest for best director, The Directors Guild of America on Saturday honored Martin Scorsese as filmmaker of the year. Although nominated seven times, this was Scorsese's first DGA win. Accepting the award, Scorsese observed that he realized that his film, The Departed, would become a hit when the studio showed him box-office sales graphs with huge spikes in certain key areas of the country. It was, he said, "like looking at a veritable map of the American underworld. ... Vegas, forget about it. It was amazing."

UNITED 93 NAMED BEST FILM IN U.K. CRITICS POLL

U.K. film critics selected British director Paul Greengrass's United 93 as the best film of 2006 at Sunday's 34th annual Evening Standard British Film Awards. Daniel Craig received the best actor prize for his role as the new James Bond in Casino Royale, while Judy Dench won the best actress award for her performance in Notes on a Scandal (beating out Oscar favorite Helen Mirren). Sacha Baron Cohen won the Peter Sellers Award for comedy for Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.

LAW PROFESSOR DEBUNKS REPORT ON CANADIAN CAMCORDING

Claims that Canada has become the primary source of bootlegged movies captured on camcorders were debunked today (Monday) by a Canadian law professor in the Toronto Star, who claimed that they were "based primarily on fiction" that included "unsubstantiated and inconsistent claims about camcording, exaggerations about its economic harm and misleading critiques of Canadian law." Michael Geist, who holds the Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce Law at the University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law, observed that a 2003 study by AT&T Labs "concluded that 77 per cent of pirated movies actually originate from industry insiders and advance screener copies provided to movie reviewers." Geist's article also took issue with claims that Canada has no laws barring the use of camcorders in theaters, pointing out that the MPAA itself states on its website that "in Canada camcording is an infringement under the Copyright Act, regardless of whether it is for the public or personal use of the person making the copy." Geist's article concludes: "Despite all the evidence to the contrary, the U.S. and Canadian lobby groups continue to portray Canada as a piracy haven while pressing for unnecessary legal reforms. Unless politicians separate fact from fiction, this show appears headed for a frightening finale."

Brian B. at Movieweb
Brian B.