PARAMOUNT NOT AT ITS PEAK

A flood of quarterly earnings reports from the major media conglomerates is beginning to roll in, and none of them is likely to attract much investor interest. Viacom's hit early today, a bleak report indicating a 32-percent plunge in profit from the comparable quarter a year ago. Its Paramount unit was responsible for the lion's share of that figure as it reported a loss of $25 million, versus a profit of $86 million in last year's quarter. DVD and Blu-ray sales were down 29 percent. And sales might continue to grow worse in home entertainment, CEO Philippe Dauman acknowledged. "Consumer appetite for DVDs may be showing signs of fatigue," he said. Chairman Sumner Redstone also attempted to stomp out widespread rumors that he has been unable to find a potential purchaser for his National Amusements theater chain. "I can tell you that, whatever you may hear from the uninformed, there is substantial interest for a number of our theaters," Redstone said. "We are extremely pleased with the progress we are making."

PARAMOUNT BATTERED IN QUARTER

Paramount, which has been facing some tough challenges at the box office this year, is facing one of its biggest ones with the upcoming G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, which is due to be released on Aug. 7. USA Today reported today (Wednesday) that buzz surrounding the film has been brutal, with fans complaining loudly at what the studio offered in its trailers for the movie. "The script was hurried into production to beat the writers' strike last year, which may account for some of the troubles," the newspaper observed. Alex Billington of FirstShowing.net suggests that the studio's efforts to protect the movie may have achieved the opposite result. For example, it will only be shown to critics next week, just days before its release. "Never a good sign," he remarked. Billington said that every time he mentioned the movie on his blog, "the comments would fill up with people already saying, 'This looks like the worst movie of the year.'"

DREAMWORKS ANIMATION TAKES A DIVE

DreamWorks Animation said Tuesday that its second-quarter profits totaled $25.6 million, down 7 percent from the $27.5 million that it took in during the same quarter a year ago. Total revenue dropped a similar amount , to $132 million. Of that amount, sales to cable of Kung Fu Panda amounting to $32.7 millionproved to be the studio's biggest revenue source, followed by DVD sales of Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, which generated $26.1 million. Theatrical ticket sales of Monsters vs. Aliens, amounting to $10.3 million, was third on the list.

A NEW SALVO AIMED AT PIRATE BAY

Its leaders may be languishing in a Swedish prison following their conviction last April on charges of facilitating copyright infringement, but The Pirate Bay continues to operate as usual without them. Now, at least four major studios, Disney, Universal, Warner Bros, and Columbia, are trying a new tactic -- suing the file-sharing indexer and asking that the Swedish courts issue an injunction to halt the site's continuing operations. The lawsuit is being filed even as negotiations continue over the sale of The Pirate Bay to Global Gaming. But some have suggested that the offer from Global Gaming may be part of a larger scheme to boost The Pirate Bay's worth or simply frustrate the studios' efforts to bring it down. Also on Tuesday, Global Gaming's representative in the U.S., Wayne Rosso, quit, saying he had lost confidence in the company's ability to take over the Pirate Bay.

MORMONS SAY THEY BELIEVE HOLLYWOOD THREATENS MORALITY

While only 42 percent of the general population believes that Hollywood threatens their moral values, that number rises to 68 percent in the case of Mormons and 54 percent in the case of Jehovah's Witnesses, according to a study by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, reported today (Wednesday) by Reuters. The same study found that 60 percent of Mormons identified themselves as conservative and that 88 percent believe in absolute standards of right and wrong.

Cinemark Movie Club