MOVIEGOERS TAPPED OUT?

Following a month of smooth sailing in May, the box-office has begun encountering some rougher seas in June with ticket sales well below analysts' expectations over the weekend. "The results could be summed up as a C-minus," the Los Angeles Times commented. "Overall, the weekend was pretty tepid," said Daily Variety. In fact, while the 2007 box office had been up nearly 5 percent over 2006 going into the weekend, the weekend's results wound up more than 9 percent lower than the comparable weekend a year ago. Topping the list was the premiere of Ocean's Thirteen with an estimated $37.1 million. That figure was down slightly from the first two Ocean's movies. (Ocean's Eleven opened with $38.1 million; Ocean's Twelve, with $39.1 million.) In second place was the third week of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, with about $21.3 million -- down 52 percent from last week, and only slightly ahead of the relatively low-budget comedy Knocked Up, which brought in $20 million. The take for the debut of the animated Surf's Up was nothing for studio executives to be stoked about, as it finished fourth with $18 million. It competed for the family audience with Shrek the Third, which took fifth place in its fifth week with $15.8 million. The horror flick Hostel: Part II bled to death in its opening weekend with just $8.8 million.

The top ten films for the weekend, according to studio estimates compiled by Media by Numbers:

1. Ocean's Thirteen, $37.1 million; 2. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, $21.3 million; 3. Knocked Up, $20 million; 4. Surf's Up, $18 million; 5. Shrek the Third, $15.75 million; 6. Hostel: Part II, $8.75 million; 7. Mr. Brooks, $5 million; 8. Spider-Man 3, $4.4 million; 9. Waitress, $1.65 million; 10. Disturbia, $550,000.

APPLE MAY "RENT" NEW MOVIES ONLINE

Apple, which has thus far only persuaded Disney to allow it to sell new movies on its iTunes store at the same they are released on DVD, is negotiating with other studios to allow it to offer new movies for rent instead, the Wall Street Journal reported today (Monday). According to the newspaper, Apple would rent the movies "for a set number of days," after which they would, in effect, self-destruct. Presumably the movies could be viewed either on video iPods, computer screens, or, by using the company's Apple TV device, on television sets. Meanwhile, today's (Monday) Los Angeles Times reports that movie studios are demanding that Apple take steps to prevent illegal copies of movies from being played via its Apple TV device before they agree to licensing deals. "Our position is, if you want our content, you have to protect our business," one unnamed studio executive told the newspaper.

INDIANA JONES TO BEGIN SHOOTING IN NEW MEXICO

Although, as with all Steven Spielberg movies, a thick wall of secrecy surrounds the production of the upcoming Indiana Jones movie, enterprising reporters in New Mexico have observed that work has already begun on transforming the town of Deming into Morocco during World War II for initial filming due to begin later this month. The Las Cruces Sun-News noted that a building at the former air strip near the town has been painted blue, with an Air Force insignia and the words "Home of the Fighter Pilot" painted on the wall. Vehicles with Air Force insignias are also parked nearby. The newspaper said that the film's working title is Indiana Jones and the City of the Gods. Other reports have indicated that production will move to tropical-forest locations near Hilo, Hawaii following the New Mexico shoot.

SANDLER IS SPIKE TV'S ULTIMATE GUY'S GUY

Viewers of men's channel Spike TV have chosen Adam Sandler the Ultimate Guy's Guy in the first annual Guys Choice awards. The awards show, held Sunday in Los Angeles and due to air Wednesday night, also saw the first Guy Movie Hall of Fame Award presented to Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau for their work in the 1996 movie Swingers. Will Ferrell took two awards, "Funniest M.F." (presented by Pee Wee Herman) and "Most Viral Video" (for his YouTube spoof "The Landlord").

DISNEYLAND FINDS NEMO

Finding Nemo today (Monday) becomes the first Pixar movie to find a place alongside Disney's traditional animated creations at Disneyland. The theme park is opening Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage, a ride similar to 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, which was shut down in 1998. David Miller, a Los Angeles-based analyst for SMH Capital, told Bloomberg News, "We have always been somewhat surprised even before the Pixar acquisition there aren't more rides associated with the [Pixar] films." However, the wire service pointed out that it took three years to construct the Nemo ride. Disney has not indicated how much it spent to develop and build it.

BANGKOK FILM FESTIVAL RESET FOR JULY 19-29

The Bangkok Film Festival, which was thrown into limbo following the Sept. 9, 2006 military coup, has been rescheduled for July 19-29, but despite the fact that the dates are only weeks away, festival officials have provided few details about the films to be presented, including the titles of the opening and closing films. "The format has changed a little from previous festivals, but under the focused direction of the Thai film industry, this event will be more in keeping with the country and the region," an announcement said cryptically. A brief schedule attached to the announcement noted that the festival plans to present a two-day workshop on clay animation from Okinawa on July 23 and 24, followed by a discussion of Okinawan films on July 25. (There was no explanation of why the Japanese island was receiving three days of attention; no other country is mentioned in the schedule.) On July 26 it plans to present a panel discussion on anti-piracy, followed by a discussion on "cultural diversity on films" on July 27. On July 28, it has scheduled a "Discussion on Rating and Censor on Films."

Cinemark Movie Club
Brian B.