i>HELLBOY II WINNER OF SUPERHERO WEEKEND

As predicted, the box-office battle between two superheroes, Hellboy and Hancock, proved to be close. But in the end Universal's Hellboy II: The Golden Army turned out to be the winner as it collected an estimated $35.9 million, while the second week of Hancock, starring Will Smith, wound up with $33 million. The 3-D film Journey to the Center of the Earth opened in third place with $20.6 million. But Eddie Murphy's Meet Dave, was not well met, earning just $5.3 million to place seventh. Another disappointment was Warner Bros.' Kit Kittredge: An American Girl, which took in only $2.4 million in its second weekend of wide release. Meanwhile, in its sixth week, Kung Fu Panda crossed the $200-million mark as it sold $4.3 million worth of tickets to place eighth. Overall, the top 12 movies brought in $145 million, down 16 percent from the comparable weekend a year ago, according to box-office trackers Media by Numbers.

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

1. Hellboy II: The Golden Army, $35.9 million; 2. Hancock, $33 million; 3. Journey to the Center of the Earth, $20.6 million; 4. WALL-E, $18.5 million; 5. Wanted, $11.6 million; 6. Get Smart, $7.1 million; 7. Meet Dave, $5.3 million; 8. Kung Fu Panda, $4.3 million; 9. Kit Kittredge: An American Girl, $2.5 million; 10. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, $2.3 million.

JOURNEY DOES WELL IN 3-D THEATERS, NOT SO WELL IN OTHERS

About 57 percent of the weekend revenue for Journey to the Center of the Earth came from 34 percent of the theaters showing it -- those that were equipped with 3-D projection facilities, the Los Angeles Times reported today (Monday). Tickets at the 3-D theaters were priced at $3-4 above those at 2-D-only houses. The newspaper observed that revenue for Hellboy II was considerably diminished by the shortage of theaters capable of screening it in 3-D. Although producers had initially expected that they would be able to screen the film in 1,400 theaters, they were only to line up 954. (Nevertheless, it represented the widest release ever of a film in digital 3-D.) The remaining 1,857 showed it in conventional 2-D. Michael V. Lewis, chairman of RealD, whose technology was used in the film, said he was "ecstatic" about the initial response. "This demonstrates the power of 3-D and we are going to continue to roll out the technology on a global scale as quickly as possible," he told the Times.

HOW MUCH ARE PHOTOS OF BRANGELINA'S KIDS WORTH?

Publicists and photo agency executives were speculating today (Monday) about how much photos of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt's twins, a boy and a girl who were born in Nice on Saturday, may have told for. The Associated Press reported that the newspaper Nice Matin, which broke the story of the twins' birth, said that the couple had sold rights for the first photos to an unnamed U.S. publication for as much as $11 million, with money designated for charity. But Darryn Lyons, who runs the celebrity photo agency Big Pictures in London, estimated that the photos could be worth as much as $15-20 million. He said that if you were a paparazzo who successfully snaps candid shots of the twins, you "could easily buy a little island to live on for the rest of your life."

VIDEO SPENDING DEFIES OVERALL ECONOMIC PLUNGE

Although overall retail spending continues to fall, consumer spending for home video rentals and sales during the first six months of this year were actually up slightly from the same period a year ago, according to Home Media magazine. The results come in the face of new reports that downloading of movies on such sites as Apple's iTunes store, MovieLink and Cinema Now is rising significantly. But Tom Adams, president of Adams Media Research, told the magazine, "The fact is, despite what many on Wall Street seem to think, there is very little digital downloading going on. We're talking about $118 million in 2007 spending, and about $254 million this year -- so against a $24 billion packaged media market it's really not making much of a dent at this point."

JUDGE IN BETAMAX CASE DIES

Federal Judge Warren Ferguson, whose decision in the so-called Betamax case in 1979 set the stage for the home-video revolution, died on June 25 in Fullerton,CA, published reports said Sunday. Ferguson had ruled in favor of the Sony Corporation which had been sued by Universal Studios and Walt Disney Productions, who had claimed that Sony's home recording device, the Betamax, would encourage copyright infringement and curtail their ability to syndicate reruns of their television shows and movies. Ferguson's ruling held that home recording was lawful, and the subsequent proliferation of video recorders eventually led to the studios themselves developing a new lucrative market for their library material.

'40S STAR KEYES DIES

Evelyn Keyes, who appeared in Gone With the Wind as Scarlett O'Hara's sister Suellen, and in The Jolson Story as Jolson's wife Ruby Keeler, among other major roles in the 1940s and '50s, died on July 4 of uterine cancer at age 91, it was reported Sunday.

Cinemark Movie Club
Brian B.