TRANSFORMERS MAY BECOME BIGGEST HIT OF YEAR

Transformer: Revenge of the Fallen could earn in excess of $160 million during a five day domestic opening beginning June 24, the Los Angeles Times reported today (Thursday), citing unnamed film executives who have seen the most recent pre-release audience surveys. The newspaper observed that it is also opening on the same day in most major overseas markets, where the original Transformers earned more money than it did in the U.S. in 2004. On her Deadline Hollywood Today blog, Nikki Finke reported that online ticket sellers MovieTickets.com was telling her that the sequel already accounts for 13 percent of its sales with 83 percent of the under-25 crowd saying that they intend to see it during opening weekend. All of that may come as particularly welcome news for director Michael Bay who is due to receive a cut of total profits from all revenue sources after Paramount recoups its production, distribution, and marketing costs, according to the Times. He reportedly took home $75 million from his backend deal after the first movie grossed $708 million worldwide, the newspaper said.Meanwhile, in a separate article, the Times reports that audience tracking indicates that Paramount's Imagine That, starring Eddie Murphy, is likely to become the year's biggest bomb when it opens this weekend, with one research service, OTX, predicting that it will debut with just $6 million. The highest estimate, from NRG, is $12 million.

DVD BUYERS INTO HE'S JUST NOT THAT INTO YOU

He's Just Not That Into You, a surprise hit at the box office this year, where it took in close to $100 million domestically, became the No. 1 DVD in sales and rentals last week, according to Nielsen VideoScan First Alert, which tracks DVD sales, and Home Media Retail magazine, which tracks rentals. The No. 2 release in the stores was Paramount Home Video's Defiance, which grossed $28.6 million at the box office; it finished second in rentals as well. Last week's top film, Paul Blart: Mall Cop, fell to third place on both charts. The magazine observed that the film was released at a time when "high-profile theatricals are few and far between" among DVD releases and when DVD and Blu ray versions of television series are hitting the shelves.

FRANCE'S THREE-STRIKES LAW STRUCK DOWN

A recently enacted French law that gives the government the right to deny Internet access to anyone caught downloading movies and other copyrighted material three times was struck down Wednesday by the French Constitutional Council, which said only the courts had the power to disconnect Internet users. It said that it regarded "free access to public communication services online" as a human right, siding with free-speech advocates who argued that the new law denied the accused the right to challenge the government's charges in court. The legislation had been strongly pushed by filmmakers, including the Motion Picture Association of America, as well as recording-rights groups and television producers. Mark Mulligan, an analyst at Forrester Research, told the New York Times: "What this highlights is the danger of using legislation and the courts to further your business aims. You become a victim of the whole process."

TV PILOTS FLY OUT OF L.A.

While the total number of pilots for primetime TV has declined 17 percent since 2005, the number of pilots that were produced in Los Angeles has plummeted 42 percent, according to a report by FilmL.A. Inc., the nonprofit group that acts as a clearinghouse for film permits from various local agencies. In a survey issued on Wednesday, FilmL.A. noted that while four years ago, producers of TV shows, movies and commercials were competing for talent, crews, stages, and sought-after locations, producers of TV pilots arediscovering that "they have their pick of local resources these days." Of 103 pilots filmed for the 2008-09 period, the group reported, 59 were filmed in Los Angeles, two elsewhere in California and 42 outside the state. "Some form of production incentive was available in every one of the non-California locations," the survey concluded.

Cinemark Movie Club