"DE FACTO" STRIKE BEGINS

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers on Monday made the Screen Actors Guild a last, best offer -- which essentially mirrors the deal the studio and network group has already concluded with the Writers Guild of America, the Directors Guild of America and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. In a statement, the AMPTP said, "Our final offer to SAG represents a final hope for avoiding further work stoppages and getting everyone back to work." The group said it will end negotiations with the union but has agreed to meet with its leaders on Wednesday to answer any questions concerning the final offer. In its own statement, SAG said that it "is reviewing the complex package and will prepare a response to management once that analysis is complete." That response is not expected until after July 8, when AFTRA has indicated it will announce the results of a ratification vote on its own contract with the AMPTP. In the meantime, SAG advised its members to continue working "until further notice from the guild." However, little work is available to them, since the studios have shut down virtually all feature film production and television producers are winding down production as well. "Our industry is in a de facto strike," the AMPTP statement said.

WANTED BIG WEEKEND STAR

Disney/Pixar's WALL-E performed about as expected at the box office over the weekend, taking in $63.1 million dollars, according to final figures released Monday by box-office trackers Media by Numbers. But the real surprise was the performance of Universal's Wanted, starring Angelina Jolie and James McAvoy, which took in $50.9 million despite playing in 20-percent fewer theaters than WALL-E. In fact, Wanted took in more on a per-theater basis than the Disney hit, averaging $16,040 per theater versus $15,803 for WALL-E. In its second week, last week's box-office leader, Warner Bros.' Get Smart, dropped to third place with $20.2 million. Overall, the top 12 films grossed $180,202,418, up 23 percent from the same weekend a year ago. For the year, box office revenue is now up 0.7 percent over 2007. However, attendance is down 2.15 percent.

The top ten films over the weekend, according to final figures compiled by Media by Numbers (figures in parentheses represent total gross to date):

1. WALL-E, Disney, $63,087,526, (New); 2. Wanted, Universal, $50,927,085, (New); 3. Get Smart, Warner Bros., $20,211,242, 2 Wks., $77,477,031; 4. Kung Fu Panda, Paramount, $11,692,061, 4. Wks., $179,276,754; 5. The Incredible Hulk, Universal, $9,577,245, 3 Wks., $115,859,210; 6. The Love Guru, Paramount, $5,340,895, 2 Wks., $25,222,377; 7. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Paramount, 6 Wks., $5,179,960, $300,085,447; 8. The Happening, Fox, $3,907,948, 3 Wks., $59,120,854; 9. Sex and the City: The Movie, Warner Bros, $3,808,288, 5 Wks., $140,170,362; 10. You Don't Mess With the Zohan, Sony, $3,175,214, 4 Wks., $91,190,129.

INDY IS YEAR'S CHAMP

Having crossed the $400-million mark in overseas ticket sales on Friday and the $300-million mark in domestic sales on Sunday, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull now stands as the highest-grossing worldwide release of 2008, Paramount said in a statement on Monday. As of Sunday, the film has grossed $713 million worldwide. Crystal Skull is the second film to earn more than $300 million in North America, joining Iron Man, which has grossed $309 million.

MOVIE REVIEWS: HANCOCK

Although Will Smith has become as visible on an Independence Day weekend as the American flag, he may be facing a bit of a challenge this weekend if early reviews of his latest movie, Hancock, is any indication. The movie opens at midnight tonight in many major cities, and several critics are posting their reviews today (Tuesday). "This movie fails so spectacularly -- and on so many levels -- that it's like watching a train plummet off a bridge," writes Lou Lumenick in the New York Post. Smith himself gets a pass from critics for his portrayal of an alcoholic everyman with superpowers who has little interest in saving humanity -- a kind of super anti-hero. "It's a strange feeling to see the summer's most promising premise self-destruct into something bizarre and unsatisfying, but that is the Hancock experience," writes Kenneth Turan in the Los Angeles Times. Or as Claudia Puig puts it in USA Today: "The finished product is so poorly conceived and misguided that even Will Smith, with all his charm, can't save it." Likewise Michael Phillips comments in the Chicago Tribune: "Not even Smith's charisma can mitigate the chaos that is Hancock." Nevertheless, the film does get a few so-so reviews. Peter Howell writes in the Toronto Star: "Hancock is still worth seeing, if only for a glimpse of what might have been a truly innovative idea." And Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun-Times gives the movie three stars and concludes that it's "a lot of fun, if perhaps a little top-heavy with stuff being destroyed."

Cinemark Movie Club
Brian B.