STATE OF THE INDUSTRY

In a state-of-the-industry report released in Washington Tuesday, the Motion Picture Association of America said that movie and TV businesses were responsible for contributing $60.46 billion to the country's economy and that they were responsible for generating 1.3 million jobs in 2005. Speaking to an MPAA symposium, MPAA Chairman Dan Glickman said, "The creative output of the American motion picture and television industry is widely appreciated around the world, yet its contribution to the nation's economy is seldom recognized. This report ... confirms the importance of filmed entertainment production to America's economy."

AMAZON TO SELL MOVIE DOWNLOADS -- VIA TIVO

One day after Wal-Mart announced it was going back online to try to sell videos -- this time by making them available for download -- Amazon said that it will begin testing a movie downloading service of its own that won't even require a computer. It will require a TiVo digital recorder, however -- something that will allow the downloaded movies to be played immediately on a TV set. Meanwhile, Wal-Mart's new website received failing marks from critics Tuesday. The British tech site The Inquirer called it "an embarrassment of awfulness," adding that "any teacher would flunk a first-time HTML student for turning in a basic assignment that looked like this. ... You have to question if it tested this at all." Separately, Daily Variety reported today (Wednesday) that Apple agreed to pay more for digital copies of Paramount's library of movies than bricks-and-mortar retailers do. Even so, it will not be able to offer new titles from Paramount, since Apple insists on being able to price the movie downloads at prices that are lower than what retailers charge. (It has signed a new-movie deal with only one studio, Disney, where Apple chief Steve Jobs is the largest stockholder.)

MARKET CHAINS TO INSTALL DVD KIOSKS

Offering a different type of digital movie competition, Supervalu Inc., a nationwide grocery supply chain, and Redbox, the country's largest provider of DVD kiosks, announced Tuesday that they have agreed to roll out Redbox's DVD kiosks in some 1,500 supermarket outlets throughout the country, including Albertsons, Jewel-Osco, Acme, Hornbacher's, and Shop 'n' Save. Each of the new kiosks can hold more than 500 DVDs, which rent for $1 per night. They can be returned to any Redbox kiosk nationwide. Customers can also select their desired DVDs online at www.redbox.com and pick them up at their nearby supermarket. Redbox has already installed some 2,500 DVD kiosks throughout the country, including many McDonald's locations, Wal-Marts, apartment complexes, university campuses and convenience stores. At least two dozen other companies are also competing in the DVD kiosk business.

IT'S OFFICIAL: INDY TO RETURN ON MAY 22, 2008

Paramount on Tuesday confirmed that it will release the next Indiana Jones installment on Thursday, May 22, 2008. The studio also said that it plans a simultaneous worldwide release of the as-yet-untitled film, which will be produced by Lucasfilm Ltd., directed by Steven Spielberg, and star Harrison Ford. Frank Marshall will receive the top producer's credit, while George Lucas and Kathleen Kennedy will serve as executive producers. The screenplay was written by David Koepp. The studio had previously announced that production will begin in June.

ROWLING BIDS GOODBYE TO HARRY POTTER

"I always knew that Harry's story would end with the seventh book, but saying goodbye has been just as hard as I always knew it would be," J.K. Rowling has written on her website, referring to her completion of the final Harry Potter novel, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. She continued: "Even while I'm mourning, though, I feel an incredible sense of achievement. I can hardly believe that I've finally written the ending I've been planning for so many years. I've never felt such a mixture of extreme emotions in my life, never dreamed I could feel simultaneously heartbroken and euphoric." She suggested that whenever she feels like "collapsing in a puddle of misery" over putting Harry behind her, she thinks to herself: "While each of the previous Potter books has strong claims on my affections, Deathly Hallows is my favorite, and that is the most wonderful way to finish the series."

Brian B.