Bringing some box-office analysts up short, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Princeon Sunday earned about $2 million less than what Warner Bros. had estimated, winding up with $77.8 million for the three-day weekend and $158 million from Wednesday, when it opened. The film actually ended up on Sunday selling fewer tickets than Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenixdid on its first Sunday two years ago. Indeed, with the latest Harry Potter sequel the only new movie opening wide, the overall box office took a terrific hit, with weekend business down 38 percent from the comparable weekend a year ago,

{@@@[email protected]@@}{@@@[email protected]@@}The top ten films over the weekend, according to final figures compiled by Box Office Mojo (figures in parentheses represent total gross to date):

1. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, Warner Bros., $77,835,727, 1 Wk. ($158,022,354 (From Wednesday); 2. Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, 20th Century Fox, $17,561,406, 3 Wks. ($151,865,987); 3. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Paramount/DreamWorks, $13,691,487, 4 Wks. ($363,808,123); 4. Brüno, Universal, $8,318,385, 2 Wks. ($49,533,475); 5.The Proposal, Disney, $8,289,707, 5 Wks. ($128,083,273); 6. The Hangover, Warner Bros., $8,177,272, 7 Wks. ($235,744,423); 7. Public Enemies, Universal, $7,748,325, 3 Wks. ($79,639,205); 8.Up, Disney, $3,172,014, 8 Wks. ($279,583,282); 9. My Sister's Keeper, Warner Bros., $2,828,367, 4 Wks. ($41,507,695); 10.I Love You Beth Cooper,20th Century Fox, $2,766,863, 2 Wks. ($10,363,239).


Redbox, the company that rents DVDs for $1.00 a night at some 17,000 kiosks around the country, has signed a deal with Sony Pictures that will allow it to buy titles directly from the studio, thereby bypassing middle-man wholesalers. The deal could open the door for other studios to negotiate directly with Redbox. In a statement, David Bishop, president of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, indicated that consumers appear to by shying away from outright purchases of DVDs and are renting them instead. "We're following consumer trends and trying to maximize consumer profitability within that trend," Bishop said.


Director Ken Loach has pulled Looking for Eric, his well-received entry at the Cannes Film Festival, out of the Melbourne Film Festival, complaining that he cannot contribute to any event that accepts funding from Israel. (Israel had provided airfare for director Tatia Rosenthal, whose film 9.99 is being screened in Melbourne.) Festival director Richard Moore said that he would not consider Loach's demands. In an interview with Radio Australia, he said: "I refused to withdraw that funding from the state of Israel because what I think he is doing is a form of cultural blackmail, and he decided therefore to withdraw his film." Last week, the festival faced a similar protest when Chinese officials demanded that it cancel the screening of The 10 Conditions of Love, a documentary about the plight of minority Uighurs in China. When Moore refused, the Chinese, in apparent retaliation, withdrew the three Chinese films that had been scheduled to be screened in Melbourne. The controversies have brought the festival a raft of unexpected publicity. "Films dropping out at the last moment is not particularly good from an organizational perspective," Moore said, "but I have to say ... sales are going strongly." Meanwhile, the government of Saudi Arabia on Monday shut down the fourth annual Jedda Film Festival, which was to have opened on Saturday. The shut-down was depicted as a victory for religious hardliners in a country where movie theaters are banned.


Chinese officials and the brother and sister of Bruce Lee announced Monday that they plan to work together to produce a movie about the martial-arts legend. The Chinese website Zhejiang online said that Robert Lee, Bruce's brother, will produce the biopic and Phoebe Lee, his sister "will also help." Although last year, a 40-part TV series about Lee was aired in China, the new movie marks the first time that Lee's family has approved a film or TV project about the actor who died 36 years ago at age 32 from an allergic reaction to the pain-killing drug Equagesic that caused swelling of the brain. Although the filmmakers said that "the movie will have three episodes," it was not clear whether they would be part of one film or whether three separate movies about Lee would be produced.