HARRY FALLS 62 PERCENT
The final take for the second weekend of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince turned out to be even less enchanting than the original estimates. Ticket sales were down 62 percent to $29.5 million. While the film enjoyed a terrific midweek kickoff, it has trailed its predecessor, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, on each day since. Some analysts observed that some Harry Potter fans may have been waiting for a wider release of the IMAX version of the movie. (Until now, it has played at only a handful of IMAX sites.) That will come on Wednesday, when Half-Blood Prince takes over 162 big-screen venues that have been showing Transformers 2. Overseas, it's another story, as the movie raked in $82.5 million in 64 countries, bringing its total to $404 million. The movie that did Harry in was Disney's G-Force, produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, whose magic, unlike Harry's, rarely fails. The movie earned $31.7 million in its debut, helped significantly by premium ticket pricing at 3D theaters. It had been expected to debut with about $20 million. Also opening well above expectations was the critically derided The Ugly Truth, starring Katherine Heigl and Gerard Butler. The movie opened in third place with $27.6 million. A third new film, the horror flick Orphan,- took in just about what analysts expected it would -- $12.9 million. Overall, the box office was down for the third weekend in a row, down 16 percent to $151.4 million against $180.9 million for the comparable weekend a year ago.
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. G-Force, Disney, $31,706,934, (New); 2. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, Warner Bros., $29,462,187, 2 Wks. ($221,295,818); 3. The Ugly Truth, Sony, $27,605,576, (New); 4. Orphan, Warner Bros., $12,871,483, (New); 5. Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, 20th Century Fox, $8,408,430, 4 Wks. ($171,499,101); 6. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Paramount/DreamWorks, $8,124,427, 5 Wks. ($379,214,172); 7. The Hangover, Warner Bros., $6,461,370, 8 Wks. ($247,073,766); 8. The Proposal, Disney, $6,379,926, 6 Wks. ($140,042,989); 9. Public Enemies, Universal, $4,352,650, 4 Wks. ($88,278,880); 10. Brüno, Universal, $2,832,870, 3 Wks. ($56,629,390).
3D COMES TO THE LIDO
The Venice Film Festival announced Monday that it is adding a new category to its competitive slates -- 3D -- with a special jury composed of Los Angeles-based film journalist Scott Foundas, New York Times columnist Dave Kehr, and Italian director Nadia Ranocchi. The sidebar competition is being sponsored by -- what else? -- an eyeglass company, Persol, whose fashionable sunglasses are being offered online with 3D lenses. The 66th annual Venice Film Festival -- the oldest in the world -- is scheduled to open on September 2 and run through the 12th.
ESPN TO PRODUCE MOVIE WITH NFL
ESPN is getting into the movie business with the National Football League. Together they are planning to produce a movie about legendary Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi, titled Lombardi. Daily Variety reported today (Tuesday) that the plan is to release the movie on January 28, 2011, the idle weekend between the conference championships and the Super Bowl, when interest in all things pigskin is high. The trade publication also quoted ESPN Films exec Ron Semiao as saying that such a release date would allow the distributor -- presumably Disney -- to promote the movie during the playoffs.
EVEN HOLLYWOOD LAWYERS BEING HURT BY DOWNTURN
Attorneys representing members of the entertainment industry say they have been hard hit by the current economic downturn, amid production declines and less lucrative deals for their clients, according to the National Law Journal. the NLJ cited MPAA figures indicating that the number of movies released between Jan. 2 and July 21 of this year came to a total of 284, down 15.5 percent from 2008, when 336 were released. "Every entertainment lawyer will tell you the same thing about new deals: they have to do twice as many to stay afloat, which means working twice as hard because the deals have been cut in half," Doug Mark, a partner at Mark Music & Media Law in Los Angeles, told the NLJ. Some attorneys said that the independent film business has been particularly hard hit, since loan money has evaporated. One noted that while a few years ago, 10 banks were involved in independent production deals, only two remain so. But even big Hollywood stars have been caught up in the recession, it noted, with several seeing cuts in both upfront fees and backend deals. Lawyers representing them traditionally receive 5 percent of the deals they negotiate. Craig Emanuel, chairman of Loeb & Loeb's Los Angeles entertainment department, told the NLJ: "If they represent an actor who normally makes $10 million a picture, and that person is now making $2 million, this obviously impacts your bottom line.