i>KNIGHT CAN'T RESCUE TIME WARNER STOCK
Warner Bros.' The Dark Knight added another $10.52 million to its gross on Monday, bringing the total to $324.3 million, making it the studio's biggest hit in history. In less than two weeks, it has already earned more than its previous top money-maker, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, did throughout its entire run in 2001-2002. Nevertheless, the success has had virtually no effect on the stock of the studio's parent, Time Warner. The Hollywood Reporter observed Tuesday that Time Warner shares stood at $14.70 on July 18, the film's opening day. On Tuesday they were trading at $14.57. The trade paper commented, "It appears that one of the biggest movies of all time has done nothing for shareholders of the company that made the film, distributed it and will collect the bulk of its profits. And let's not forget that TW also is parent of DC Comics, where Batman was born, so profits ought to be rolling into that unit off of Dark Knight as well."
INDY, IRON MAN CAN'T BOOST VIACOM
The success of Paramount's Iron Man and the latest Indian Jones sequel helped offset weak performances by other units of Viacom, producing higher-than expected second quarter profits, the company said Tuesday. Nevertheless they were lower than those of the comparable quarter a year ago. Profits fell 6 percent to $407 million from $434 million in the year-ago quarter. Viacom Executive Chairman Sumner Redstone, who had hoped to boost Viacom's share price by splitting the company from CBS Inc. -- but saw the stock slip precipitously afterwards instead -- was philosophical about the results. "There is opportunity even in difficult economic times," he said in a conference call.
SAG DISSIDENTS MAKE SHOW OF UNITY
The group of Screen Actors Guild dissidents who announced that they will challenge the current leadership of the union said Tuesday that it does not approve the take-it-or-leave-it offer submitted by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. In a statement, the Unite for Strength leaders said, "We believe SAG needs new leadership, but we also agree with SAG's negotiators that actors need real gains from a new contract." In particular, the group condemned the AMPTP's proposal to allow productions costing less than $15,000 a minute to use non-union talent so long as no covered union members are involved. It also announced its support of other benefits being sought by SAG negotiators.
DOLLAR DROP HAS MIXED RESULTS IN HLYD.
The sinking dollar against most overseas currencies may mean that movie studios are now earning more from ticket sales abroad, but it also means that their marketing costs, paid for in dollars, are also increasing. That state of affairs was suggested in DreamWorks Animation's second-quarter revenue filing Tuesday, which warned that rising international marketing costs would result in lower revenue in the third quarter. The company, whose films are distributed by Viacom's Paramount, also suggested that while Kung Fu Panda has performed very well, it has not come close to equaling last year's Shrek the Third. As a result net income fell in the quarter to $27.5 million on revenue of $140.8 million versus $61.8 million on $222.5 million a year ago.
HORTON TO GET BIG PUSH
Twentieth Century Fox is planning to spend a whopping $25 million to promote the Dec. 9 DVD release of Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who!, according to a report by Video Business. Children's videos have always performed well on the home-video market and Fox has going for it the fact that there are few American homes with children that do not already have a copy of the Dr. Seuss book. Horton will be released as a single disc for $29.98, as a two-disc special for $34.98, and as a Blu-ray special edition for $39.98.
VATICAN SAYS NO TO BOND SCRIPTS
A spokesman for the Vatican has acknowledged that it turned down a request to film parts of Angels and Demons, the prequel to The Da Vinci Code, at various locations within Vatican City without ever looking at the script. In an interview with the London Daily Telegraph, Father Marco Fibbi said, "Usually we read the script but in this case it wasn't necessary. Just the name Dan Brown was enough." Brown was the writer of the novels on which both The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons were based. "Angels and Demons peddles a type of fantasy that damages our common religious beliefs, just like The Da Vinci Code did," he added.