MEDIA STOCKS PLUNGE

Warning that "content may no longer be kind in the entertainment business," Lehman Bros. cut the stock ratings of the top entertainment companies Monday while warning that the Internet and digital devices could fragmentize the media. In a research note, Lehman Bros. analyst Anthony DiClemente warned that "structural changes" in the way entertainment is delivered to the public were likely to "impact the core revenue and profits of the entertainment business. The media companies singled out by DiClemente, Disney, Time Warner, CBS, and Viacom all saw their shares drop, with CBS's shares plummeting the most -- 4.5 percent to $17.77. DiClemente predicted they would drop still further, to $16.00.

WILL SMITH IS GOLD AT BOX OFFICE

Will Smith displayed his superpowers at the box office over the weekend as his poorly reviewed Hancock opened in first place with $62.6 million, making it Smith's 12th No. 1 opener. Still, Hancock was no Transformers, last year's Fourth-of-July blockbuster, and the overall box office for the year retreated behind 2007's by 0.65 percent to $4.81 billion (versus $4.84 billion), according to Media by Numbers. More significantly, the attendance gap between last year and this widened slightly to 3.46 percent. Overall, the box office recorded $153.19 million in total ticket sales, compared with $165.45 million a year ago, a 7.41-percent decline. Last weekend's top film, WALL-E dropped 48 percent to $32.5 million, while the Angelina Jolie thriller Wanted slipped to third place with $20.1 million, a 61-percent plunge.

The top ten films over the weekend, according to final figures compiled by Media by Numbers (figures in parentheses represent total gross to date):

1. Hancock, Sony, $62,603,879, 1 Wks. ($103,877,446 -- from Tuesday); 2. WALL-E, Disney, $32,509,206, 2 Wks. ($127,196,028); 3. Wanted, Universal, $20,050,070, 2 Wks. ($90,186,395); 4. Get Smart, Warner Bros., $11,109,408, 3 Wks. ($98,100,652); 5. Kung Fu Panda, Paramount, $7,318,635, 5 Wks. ($193,221,867); 6 . The Incredible Hulk, Universal, $4,899,280, 4 Wks. ($124,841,395); 7. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Paramount, $3,774,807, 7 Wks. ($306,428,521); 8. Kit Kittredge: An American Girl, Picturehouse, $3,296,929, 3 Wks. ($5,822,544); 9. Sex and the City: The Movie, Warner Bros, $2,382,438, 6 Wks. ($144,891,325); 10. You Don't Mess With the Zohan, Sony, $1,981,251, 5 Wks. ($94,773,156).

AFTRA VOTING RESULTS DUE TODAY OR TOMORROW

Results of voting by members of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists on ratification of a new deal with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers are not expected to be announced until late today (Tuesday) or early tomorrow trade reports indicated. Meanwhile, further talks between the Screen Actors Guild and the AMPTP on the AMPTP's final offer were in recess as SAG awaited word on whether the vote would undercut its bargaining power or give it increased leverage.

CHICAGO SMOKING BAN COULD AFFECT MOVIES

Smoking has been banned in the Chicago production of Jersey Boys in order to comply with the city's strict new anti-smoking law, raising the possibility that scenes showing smoking in movies and television shows shot in Chicago will also be barred. Writing in today's (Tuesday) Chicago Tribune, theater critic Chris Jones writes that Michael Mann's Public Enemies, which was filmed in Chicago,is bound to show smoking,. He then remarks facetiously, "Seize the print! Consider this an official complaint." Finally, Jones urges the city's aldermen to write "an exception for artistic purposes. A waiver. An understanding. Whatever. Heck, it doesn't even have to be for tobacco. It just has to allow Chicago's great artists to tell the truth."

CHINA JEALOUS OF HOLLYWOOD'S PANDA SUCCESS

The box-office popularity of Kung Fu Panda in China, where it has earned $20 million since its release in late June, has led to a debate in the country about why a film with many Chinese symbols and settings could not have been made in China itself, Britain's Guardian newspaper reported from Beijing today (Tuesday). The newspaper quoted from a blogger named Mu on the Sina.com website: "Although the 'theft' of the Chinese symbol of the panda gives us pain, at least it makes the Chinese movie industry consider why we are always one step behind in globalizations war of creation." The film was also the center of a debate by a parliamentary cultural-affairs committee, which concluded, according to the Xinhua News Agency, that there are too many government controls imposed on film production. "Although there is no secret ingredient to filmmaking success, the government ought to relax its oversight," the committee said.
Cinemark Movie Club

Brian B.