i>MUSEUM EXHIBITS STAYING POWER

Having already nailed a win at the box office over the Christmas holiday weekend, Night at the Museum, starring Ben Stiller, is easily winning the New Year's holiday weekend as well. Indeed, the movie is already taking in more this weekend than last. According to studio estimates released on Sunday, Museum earned $37.8 million between Friday and Sunday, bringing its two-week gross to $116.9 million. Will Smith's The Pursuit of Happyness took second place with $19.3 million -- also a considerable improvement over last week. It has now earned $98.4 million and is certain to cross the $100-million mark today (Monday). In its first full weekend in wide release -- it's now playing in 852 theaters -- Dreamgirls took in about $15.5 million. (The film averaged $18,000 per theater, the largest amount registered by any film in wide release.) Charlotte's Web took over fourth place with $12 million, while MGM's Rocky Balboa slipped to fifth place with $11.4 million.

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

1. Night at the Museum, $37.8 million; 2. The Pursuit of Happyness, $19.3 million; 3. Dreamgirls, $15.5 million; 4. Charlotte s Web, $12 million; 5. Rocky Balboa, $11.3 million; 6. The Good Shepherd, $11.2 million; 7. Eragon, $8.4 million; 8. We Are Marshall, $8 million; 9. Happy Feet, $7.8 million; 10. The Holiday, $6.7 million.

LUCAS SAYS INDIE 4 ON TAP FOR 2007

George Lucas has finally given his blessing to the script for a fourth Indiana Jones movie, and shooting will begin next year. Lucas told the Associated Press Friday, "It's going to be fantastic. It's going to be the best one yet." He declined to provide details. Last November, screenwriter Frank Darabont told CHUD.com, a website that focuses on films in development, that he had worked with Stephen Spielberg for over a year on a script for the movie. "He was ecstatic with the result and was ready to shoot it two years ago ... and then you have George Lucas read it and say, 'Yeah, I don't think so. I don't like it.'" It was not known whether the Darabont script had been revised for Indie 4 or a new one developed.

MAYANS AIR GRIEVANCES OVER APOCALYPTO

First it was the Jews; now Mel Gibson appears to have alienated the Mayas. One week before his Apocalypto is scheduled to open in the U.K. Britain's Sunday Telegraph has shown it to a number of authorities on Maya civilization and to ordinary people living in the Yucatan area that was the setting for the movie. One expert, Professor Bartolomé Alonzo Caamal said that while the violence depicted in the movie "was certainly part of Mayan life," Gibson's film failed to show that the Mayas "were a spiritual people, a philosophical people, a people who believed in harmony with nature. Where is all that in this movie? I had hoped this film would capture our culture and civilization, but it seems Mel Gibson wasn't interested in those aspects of our history. I am very worried about the message this will send to people around the world." Ignacio Ochoa, the director of the Guatemalan Nahual Foundation that promotes Mayan culture, told the newspaper: "Gibson replays, in glorious big budget Technicolor, an offensive and racist notion that Maya people were brutal to one another long before the arrival of Europeans and thus they deserved, in fact, needed, rescue." Gibson has said that the violence in the movie is not so egregious as his critics claim. "I have fooled people into thinking it is more violent than it is because they care about the characters," he said.

MOVIE REVIEWS: PERFUME: THE STORY OF A MURDERER

Among the films being released in a few theaters so that it could qualify for Oscar nominations before the end of the year was Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, starring Dustin Hoffman, Ben Whishaw and Alan Rickman. But the picture, some reviews suggest, may be too arty for its own good. Jan Stuart in Newsday is impressed with the film's "tumultuous" opening scenes and a "stunner" of an ending. However, he concludes, between those scenes, it's "a bit of a drag." Claudia Puig in USA Today sums up: "stunningly rendered, disturbing to watch, perverse and, ultimately, emotionally hollow." A.O. Scott writes in the New York Times: "Try as it might to be refined and provocative, Perfume: The Story of a Murderer never rises above the pedestrian creepiness of its conceit." On the other hand, Lou Lumenick writes in the New York Post that while the movie has a "hollywood-sized budget" of $67 million, "it's European to the very core." It is, he writes, "so visually vivid you can practically smell many of the scenes." And Jack Mathews comments in the New York Daily News that Perfume "is worth every scent."
Cinemark Movie Club

Brian B.