BRÜNO GOES OUT OF FASHION FAST
Like the title character in the movie, Brüno made a spectacular entrance on Friday, earning $14.4 million and leading some box-office forecasters who had predicted a $40-million weekend debut for the film to proclaim, "I told you so." But Saturday saw a large dropoff, taking a 39-percent tumble to generate just $8.8 million on the second day of the weekend. Universal estimated that it would sell about $7.2 million worth of tickets on Sunday, giving Brüno a $30.4-million total for the weekend, but given its huge Friday-Saturday slide, all bets were off; it could yet do far worse. Marc Lacter on the LABizObserved blog observed: "In an age when young moviegoers routinely text-message critiques to their friends while they're still watching the film on a Friday, such a dropoff could signal some seriously bad buzz." Nevertheless, the weekend total will unquestionably wind up being greater than the 2006 opening for Sacha Baron Cohen's previous Candid-Camera-like feature, Borat, which debuted with $26.5 million, but analysts were quick to point out that Boratopened in 837 theaters -- far fewer than Brüno's 2,756 -- and then went on to earn $28.3 million in its second weekend when it expanded into 2,566 theaters. Analysts see little hope that the new film will retain even 40 percent of its audience next weekend, when the discomfited queen of the realm will have to vie against Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, the latest Potter sequel, as well as a new assortment of family, horror, and "chick flicks." While this weekend's box office was down about 5 percent from the same weekend a year ago, whenHellboy II: The Golden Army opened with $34.5 million, next weekend's is expected to go through the roof. (This weekend's wasn't helped by the fact that the only other film to open wide, the teen comedy I Love You, Beth Cooper, found hardly any love at all as it took in just $5 million.) On the other hand, holdovers performed reasonably well.Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs remained in second place with about $28.5 million -- pushing its total to about $120.6 million after 12 days. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen dropped to third place from first as it added $24.2 million to its gross, which now stands at $339.2 million. Public Enemies fell 44 percent in its second weekend to $14.1 million, while The Proposal rounded out the top five with $10.5 million, down just 18 percent from the previous weekend.
1. Bruno, $30.4 million; 2. Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, $28.5 million; 3. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, $24.2 million; 4. Public Enemies, $14.1 million; 5.The Proposal, $10.5 million; 6. The Hangover, $9.9 million; 7. I Love You, Beth Cooper, $5 million; 8. Up, $4.7 million; 9. My Sister's Keeper, $4.2 million; 10. The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3, $1.6 million.
HONG KONG AND DISNEY PLAN $465-MILLION DISNEYLAND EXPANSION
Hong Kong and the Walt Disney Co. have agreed to give the struggling Disney theme park Hong Kong Disneyland an infusion of about $465 in cash in hopes of revitalizing the park with new attractions. As part of the deal, Disney has agreed to convert into equity about $350 million in loans to the venture as well as maintain a $40-million credit facility. As a result, Hong Kong's total stake is expected to fall from about 57 percent to 52 percent. The expansion plan, reportedly in the works for two years, calls for the construction of 30 new attractions and the addition of three new theme areas, Grizzly Trail, Mystic Point, and Toy Story Land, that will enlarge the park by about 25 percent.
NEWS CORP DENIES WIRETAP ALLEGATIONS
News Corp on Friday denied allegations that its London tabloids, the Sunand the New of the World used illegal wiretaps to obtain personal information about actors, sports stars, politicians and other celebrities. The reports had appeared in the rival Guardiannewspaper. In a statement, News Corp called the Guardian's claims "irresponsible and unsubstantiated." However, it did not directly address the claim by the Guardianthat it settled a lawsuit by Gordon Taylor, the head of a professional soccer union, for more than $1 million to keep him quiet about the alleged wiretapping. The Guardiandid not back down, calling for News Corp to publish the legal briefs related to the lawsuit and asking police to release details of their investigation. Meanwhile, the New York Timeson Saturday commented that "perhaps the most surprising thing about the accusations ... is how widespread, even accepted, such dubious journalistic methods are in Britain." It quoted Jon Snow, a news anchor on Britain's Channel 4 network as saying that British tabloid reporters "will go to any lengths to get material: pretending to be someone they're not, dressing as the gasman to get into someone's home, paying neighbors, going through trash bins, convincing relatives that the person has given them permission to talk."