SUPERHEROES SHOW BOX OFFICE STRENGTH

The superhero take-over of the box office continued apace over the weekend as Universal's Hellboy II: The Golden Army took over first place with $34.54 million, edging out last week's superhero flick Hancock, which took in $32.08 million. (Another superhero, Batman, is expected to take over next weekend.) In third place was Warner Bros.' Journey to the Center of the Earth, which earned $21.01 million. In fact, Journey, which was designed to be shown in digital 3-D, far surpassed the two leaders in ticket sales at the 954 theaters which were able to show it in that format. The 3-D theaters averaged $12,559 in receipts, while Hellboy II averaged $10,780 and Hancock, $8,091. In its third week, Disney's WALL-E added another $18.79 million to its gross, bringing its total to $163.06 million.

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. Hellboy 2: The Golden Army, Universal, $34,539,115, (New); 2. Hancock, Sony/Columbia, $32,080,560, 2 Wks. ($164,115,004); 3. Journey to the Center of the Earth, Warner Bros., $21,018,141, (New); 4. WALL-E, Disney, $18,793,588, 3 Wks. ($163,055,900); 5. Wanted, Universal, $11,996,175, 3 Wks. ($112,455,060); 6. Get Smart, Warner Bros., $7,201,376, 4 Wks. ($111,564,176); 7. Meet Dave, Fox, $5,251,918, (New); 8. Kung Fu Panda, Paramount, $4,411,412, 6 Wks. ($202,154,311); 9. The Incredible Hulk, Universal, $2,324,345, 5 Wks. ($129,905,435); 10. Kit Kittredge: An American Girl, Picturehouse, $2,303,054, 4 Wks. ($10,992,641).

FIRST MOVIE REVIEWS: THE DARK KNIGHT

The London Daily Mirror claimed today (Tuesday) that it was publishing the first major newspaper review of the upcoming Batman movie, The Dark Night. It's a rave. Critic David Edwards remarks that Heath Ledger is "a dead cert" to win the Oscar for his portrayal of The Joker. Edwards says that the late actor "is the brilliant heart of a superhero movie that's like nothing you've ever seen before. ... the finest superhero movie in years." In the U.S., Time Inc.'s Entertainment Weekly is out with a review by Owen Gleiberman that also extols Ledger's performance. "In this, the last performance he completed before his death, Ledger had a maniacal gusto inspired enough to suggest that he might have lived to be as audacious an actor as Marlon Brando, and maybe as great," he writers. Likewise Richard Corliss in Time magazine calls Ledger's performance "magnificent." His Joker, says Corliss, "is simply one of the most twisted and mesmerizing creeps in movie history." In his review for the Associated Press, Christy Lemire writes that The Dark Night is "an epic that will leave you staggering from the theater, stunned by its scope and complexity." And Peter Travers concludes in Rolling Stone: "The haunting and visionary Dark Knight soars on the wings of untamed imagination."

REPORT: SAG TO SUBMIT DEAL TO MEMBERS

The Screen Actors Guild may submit the final offer of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers to a membership vote at the end of this month, Daily Variety reported today (Tuesday) citing no sources. It said that the union leadership would likely send the deal to members either without a recommendation or with pro and con arguments. However, L.A. Weekly columnist Nikki Finke in her Deadline Hollywood Today blog, quotes unnamed SAG insiders as saying that there is no truth to the Variety report. Finke herself comments, "This is yet another example of the trade writer Dave McNary making up a story about the guild negotiations that has no basis in reality." She accuses the trade publication of writing "what the moguls tell it because it's so dependent on them for advertising."

NETFLIX MOVIES TO DEBUT ON XBOX

The 510.3 million owners of Microsoft's Xbox 360 video game player will be able to use it to stream thousands of movies from Netflix, the video "rentailer," the two companies announced in Los Angeles on Monday. Beginning this fall, Netflix subscribers will be able to stream 10,000 movies and television shows onto their TV sets using the Xbox 360 device. Currently Netflix's online streaming service works only with PCs, unless subscribers buy a $100 converter box. The announcement came just one day after Microsoft announced that it was cutting the price of its 20GB game player to $300

Cinemark Movie Club
Brian B.