MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE

Paramount's Transformers continued to dominate the 4th of July box office, earning $28.69 million on the Wednesday holiday, bringing its total since Monday to $64.89 million. Generally, the mid-week box office continued to soar, posting overall record results. The Wednesday box office also saw solid ticket sales for Disney's Ratatouille, which took in $10.25 million, bringing its six-day total to $72.72 million. Twentieth Century Fox's Live Free and Die Hard placed third with $6.09 million to bring its cume to $63.23 million. The Weinstein Co.'s Sicko, playing in only 441 theaters, registered healthy receipts too, as it took in $1,17 million or $2,653 per theater (second only to Transformers).

BAY WATCH

Days before the opening of the latest Transformers movie, director Michael Bay posted an angry message on his blog, deriding producers Don Murphy and Tom DeSanto for allegedly attempting to take undeserved creative credit for the film. Although his message was later removed, it was apparently cached by Google and found its way to L.A. Weekly columnist Nikki Finke, who posted it on her website today (Thursday). In it, Bay writes that he had only one creative meeting with DeSanto a year ago, during which, he wrote, "I realized he was worlds apart in my vision. I said, 'Thank you very much,' and then showed him my office door. I never really spoke to him again other than to mutter, 'Hello.'" Bay says that although he never had conversations with Murphy, he did read notes from him "kind of trashing the script and making me and the writers feel like a big s*** pile." Bay also accused DeSanto of attempting to get a writer's credit on the film and discussing the film with interviewers at an awards dinner as if he had seen the completed film. "Give me a break," Bay wrote. "The guy was lying through his teeth. He had seen nada, nothing, until the press screening."

PIRATE TRAP SET BY MPAA

The MPAA has set up a decoy website aimed at snagging pirates, according to the website blorge.com (whose motto is "technology with attitude"). According to the website, Media Defender, operating on behalf of the MPAA, has set up a site dubbed MiiVi.com that offers "fast and easy video downloading all in one great site" including software that it says speeds up the downloading process. However, according to blorge.com, the software actually searches the computer for other copyrighted files and sends the information back to Media Defender.

MOVIE REVIEWS: HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX

Following overseas premieres in Tokyo, London and Paris for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the first reviews have begun to trickle in. (The film officially opens in North America and Europe on July 11.) They are less than ecstatic. In the London Telegraph, reporter Charles Frederick writes that Harry has become "a bundle of adolescent anxieties. ... And that much-anticipated kiss with his fellow pupil Cho [Chang] might put people off. It lingers just a bit too long and there is not enough chemistry." However, Frederickoffers this advice. "To dwell on a few weaknesses would be to neglect the obvious point -- that Harry Potter is older, bigger and darker than ever. And no one would want to miss his journey." But Leo Lewis in the London Times says he was left "faintly annoyed" to realize that the ending of Harry's story is still two movies in the future. "There are moments when this otherwise enjoyable film, though nicely made and through no fault of its own, feels like a chore to be got through before the main course," he writes. Alison Maloney in the Sun likewise suggest that "there could be a risk of Potter fatigue. ...There is a danger some of the Hogwarts magic could finally be wearing off."

NOTE:Studio Briefing is somewhat abbreviated today due to Wednesday's 4th of July holiday.

Brian B.