VAJNA FILM OPENS BANGKOK FESTIVAL

The Bangkok Film Festival was scheduled to open tonight (Thursday) with the screening of the Hungarian drama Children of Glory, produced by veteran film mogul Andy Vajna. Vajna was expected to attend the opening ceremonies. His film replaced the Cannes Jury Award-winner Persepolis, which the festival removed at the behest of the Iranian embassy. (The animated film, a smash hit in France, where it has taken in $5.1 million after three weekends, concerns an Iranian girl growing up at the time of the Islamic revolution.) In an interview on the eve of the festival Chattan Kunara na Ayudhya, the public relations chief of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) who oversees the festival, said that he decided to withdraw the film "in order to avoid an international incident." Chattan acknowledged that he had received numerous complaints about his decision from filmmakers and found himself caught "between a rock and a hard place -- very upsetting." He maintained that the Iranians made no threats ("We had a good talk over tea and bisquits"), but that since the festival was not run by an independent film body but by a government entity, he risked upsetting Thailand's relations with Iran if he did not comply with the Iranian request.

FOX YANKS FILMS FROM COMIC-CON

Twentieth Century Fox on Wednesday suddenly pulled several highly touted films from next week's Comic-Con in San Diego, saying that "the material wasn't ready." The films included director Doug Liman's Jumper, starring Hayden Christensen; a sequel to Aliens vs. Predator, directed by Colin and Greg Strause; Babylon A.D., starring Vin Diesel; and Hitman, starring Timothy Olymphant. The studio's action miffed organizers of the high-profile convention. David Glanzer, a spokesman for Comic-Con, told the Los Angeles Times: "Every major studio usually has a presence at Comic-Con so for Fox to pull out a week before is very unusual." One blogger observed on the Times' website: "Something smells a little fishy. I could see one film not being ready, but all?"

MIMZY IS A DOOZY ON DVD

The Last Mimzy, a film that earned only $21.5 at the box office this year, debuted at No. 1 on the DVD sales chart for the week ending July 15, according Nielsen VideoScan First Alert. The previous week's chart topper, Paramount's Shooter, slipped to No. 2 in sales, while continuing to hold the lead in rentals. Mimzy came in third on the rental chart, earning $3.7 million. Black Snake Moan, another film that flopped in theaters, remained in second place on the rental chart with $4 million, bringing its total rental gross to $15.1 million. The film, which cost $15 million to produce, tallied theater ticket sales of just $9.4 million earlier this year.

N.Y. TIMES BREAKS POTTER BOOK EMBARGO

In an unusual action for "the newspaper of record," the New York Times today (Thursday) broke the publisher's embargo on the latest -- and last -- Harry Potter novel and ran a review, explaining that it had been able to buy a copy of the book in a local store. Similarly, the Baltimore Sun also published a review of the book, which it said had arrived in the mail. In the Times' review, critic Machiko Kakutani concluded that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, "has some lumpy passages of exposition and a couple of clunky detours -- but the overall conclusion and its determination of the main characters' story lines possess a convincing inevitability that make some of the prepublication speculation seem curiously blinkered in retrospect."

Brian B.