INVESTORS WARY OF PHOENIX FLIGHT

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix turned into a bigger order than even Warner Bros. expected as the movie smashed records in its first five days, taking in a total of $140 million in North America and $330 million worldwide, the studio said Monday. Nevertheless shares in Time Warner, which is likely to take in more than $1 billion from the film eventually, barely inched forward on Monday, rising only seven cents. Bloomberg News suggested that the reason for the cool response may be investors' wariness with media stocks in general. Traditionally, it noted, studios don't reveal the actual costs of making a film and often don't break out earnings from ancillary sales, like toys and videogames, either. "Because there's no way to tell how much Time Warner will really earn from the full Phoenix juggernaut, investors may be loath to give it the benefit of the doubt," the wire service commented.

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. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Warner Bros., $77,108,414, 1 Wk. ($139,715,157); 2. Transformers, Paramount, $37,027,901, 2 Wks. ($224,009,583); 3. Ratatouille, Disney, $18,012,196, 3 Wks. ($142,997,082); 4. Live Free or Die Hard, 20th Century Fox, $11,279,135, 3 Wks. ($103,322,580); 5. License to Wed, Warner Bros., $7,311,297, 2 Wks. ($30,379,749); 6. 1408, MGM, $4,934,516, 4 Wks. ($62,127,222); 7. Evan Almighty, Universal, $4,895,055, 4 Wks. ($87,790,505); 8. Knocked Up, Universal, $3,676,500, 7 Wks. ($138,217,270); 9. Sicko, Lionsgate, $2,604,139, 4 Wks. ($15,830,046); 10. Ocean's Thirteen, Warner Bros., $1,984,323, 6 Wks. ($112,506,702).

KILLED IN CAPTIVITY

Captivity, the only other film to open wide over the weekend, was unable to capture an audience. It earned just $1.4 million to place twelfth on the box-office list. On the other hand, the Don Cheadle-starring Talk to Me posted $402,000 from just 33 theaters during its opening -- or an average of $12,182 per theater. That put it behind only Harry Potter in per-theater ticket sales.

SHREK THE FOURTH AND FIFTH COMING

After this year's Shrek the Third there will be a fourth and fifth episode featuring the green Scottish ogre, and that will be it, DreamWorks Animation chief Jeffrey Katzenberg said at the Allen & Co. media conference in Sun Valley, Idaho. Katzenberg indicated that the studio plans to release the fourth Shrek installment in 2010, but he did not indicate when the final one will come out. In an interview with Bloomberg News, DreamWorks Animation spokesman Rich Sullivan said that the "story itself has five chapters," seeming to suggest that at least the outline of the scripts for the final two films has already been drafted.

DISNEY TAKING BLU-RAY ON THE ROAD

Disney is planning to demonstrate the clarity of its next-generation Blu-ray DVD releases during a shopping mall road show between August 17 and December 23. The Magical Blu-ray Tour, sponsored in part by Panasonic, the largest manufacturer of high-definition monitors, will display Blu-ray versions of Cars and Meet the Robinsons in mini-theaters. At the same time, the audience will be able to access the Internet to chat with viewers about the movie and interact with filmmakers. In an interview with USA Today, Bob Chapek, president of Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, said that consumers were confused about high-definition DVDs, "and we want to help everyone understand this amazing new technology." Disney releases high-definition DVDs only in the Blu-ray format.

PORN FILM STUDIO TO LET BUYEURS DOWNLOAD MOVIES

While the major film studios have been reluctant to allow their movies to be downloaded online and burned onto a DVD that can be played on TV sets, the porn industry appears ready to make that leap at once, according to USA Today. The newspaper reported that Vivid Entertainment plans to offer its films via the online CinemaNow movie service beginning Monday. The article pointed out that the studios' reluctance to do the same thing is largely based on their unwillingness to risk the wrath of big-box retailers like Wal-Mart and Best Buy who currently are the largest sellers of DVDs. But Vivid's Bill Asher told USA Today that his company doesn't have to be concerned about any of its retailers. "We sell in smaller stores, mainstream chains, but no one dominant component where we're going to get that phone call," he said.

Cinemark Movie Club
Brian B.