PRODUCERS "SWEETEN" FINAL OFFER TO SAG

In an effort to end the bargaining impasse with the Screen Actors Guild, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers on Wednesday sweetened its final offer by upping the value of its proposed pay increases by $10 million if SAG ratifies the agreement by August 15. It had previously said that the offer was worth $250 million. "The producers have included this traditional incentive in the final offer in order to get everyone back to work and end the de facto strike," the AMPTP said. It added that not only would it remove the sweetener from the proposed deal on August 15, but it would also not agree to making the deal retroactive to July 1, the date that the previous contract expired. SAG said it would respond to the offer at a meeting with the producers scheduled for later today (Thursday). Most analysts expect the union to reject the offer and call for further negotiations.

REDSTONE RENEWS DISPUTE WITH DAUGHTER

Viacom Chairman Sumner Redstone, who has had a volatile relationship with many of the executives who have worked with him, has reignited a dispute with his daughter Shari, the New York Times reported today (Thursday), citing a transcript of an interview with Redstone to be broadcast later today on CNBC. In the interview Redstone said that his daughter will not succeed him and that she has agreed to leave the board of National Amusements, the company that controls Viacom and CBS. (She is president of National Amusements and vice chairman of Viacom and CBS.) The 85-year-old Redstone said that the issue of succession is moot because "it's going to be another 20, 30 years" before he dies. However, a spokeswoman for Shari Redstone called the remarks "absolutely inaccurate" and insisted that "there is no final agreement" between father and daughter. She added, "This calls into question the veracity of anything else he might say."

HOLLYWOOD LANDMARK TO BE SITE OF STAR WARS PREMIERE

The theater once known as Grauman's Egyptian and the site of numerous searchlight-and-glitter movie premieres in the 1930s, '40s, and '50s will be decked out for the premiere of George Lucas's Star Wars: The Clone Wars on August 10, five days before the official opening, Lucasfilm announced Wednesday. The theater is now the home of American Cinematheque, one of the few venues in the country that continues to present restored prints of classic movies on the big screen. Proceeds from the premiere are to be donated to the theater, Lucasfilm said.

THEATERS DRAGGING HEELS ON CONVERSION TO 3-D

The hoped-for transition of movie theaters to 3-D projection has progressed much more slowly than originally anticipated, forcing Warner Bros. to remove the "3D" letters from what was originally titled Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D. Today's (Thursday) Los Angeles Times said that as recently as last March, producers had confidently believed that at least 1,400 3-D screens would by showing the movie when it opens on Friday. Instead, there will only be about 800. Beau Flynn, one of Journey's producers, told the Times: "The conversion will happen, but it's slower than we thought it would be." Many producers and exhibitors suggest that the pace of conversion could depend on the success of the 3-D Journey. In the Times article, Ben Stassen, director of the forthcoming Fly Me to the Moon, another 3-D feature, was quoted as saying, "If Journey does well, there might be even more screens coming on."

MOVIE SCREENS TO GO THE WAY OF SECOND BAGS ON US AIRWAYS

In-flight movies will become a thing of the past on US Airways beginning in November, the airline said Wednesday. It noted that equipment and monitors on an average flight weigh about 500 pounds, raising the cost of fuel. Eliminating the movie services will result on a $10-million savings for the airline, it said.

MOVIE REVIEWS: HELLBOY 2: THE GOLDEN ARMY

Comic books make another return to the movie theaters this weekend, with Hellboy 2: The Golden Army, starring Ron Perlman and directed by Guillermo del Toro making its debut in previews at midnight tonight (Thursday). Early reviews are mostly positive. Roger Moore, writing in the Orlando Sentinel, calls the film "a visually striking, mildly amusing way to kill a couple of hours." Likewise, Claudia Puig in USA Today writes, "This Hellboy sequel is a quintessential summer movie that delivers plenty of inventive thrills." Peter Hartlaub in the San Francisco Chronicle says that del Toro "gets the tone right throughout Hellboy 2, and the hip retro charm alone is enough to merit recommendation." But writing for the McClatchy newspapers, Fresno Bee film critic Rick Bentley, while clearly impressed with del Toro's past work (including the critically praised Pan's Labyrinth) concludes: "Sadly, Hellboy II is visual overkill. It is like trying to see every display in the Louvre in just over two hours. There is no time to enjoy the work. That's criminal. This movie is full of imaginative creations that will be missed if you blink."

Cinemark Movie Club
Brian B.