CHIPS FALL OFF THE OLD BLOCKBUSTERS

Not only did the final box-office results come in below analysts' predictions on Friday, they came in below the studios' own estimates on Sunday. Topping the list was Ocean's Thirteen, which wound up with $36.1 million, a million dollars less than what Warner Bros. had estimated it would take in. Overall, the box office was down almost 12 percent from the comparable week last year, when Disney/Pixar's animated Cars led with $60.1 million in its debut. By contrast, Sony's animated Surf's Up, which received mostly positive reviews, opened this weekend in fourth place with a disappointing $17.64 million.

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. Ocean's Thirteen, Warner Bros., $36,133,403, (New); 2. Pirates of the Caribbean: At Worlds End, Disney, $21,143,905, 3 Wks. ($253,441,723); 3. Knocked Up, Universal, $19,643,080, 2 Wks. ($65,867,020); 4. Surf's Up, Sony, $17,640,249, (New); 5. Shrek the Third, Paramount, $15,317,614, 4 Wks. ($281,460,065); 6. Hostel: Part II, Lions Gate, $8,203,391, (New); 7. Mr. Brooks, MGM, $4,911,319, 2 Wks. ($18,593,620); 8. Spider-Man 3, Sony, $4,304,986, 6 Wks. ($325,585,149); 9. Waitress, Fox Searchlight, $1,600,600, 6 Wks. ($11,967,049); 10. Disturbia, Paramount, $523,504, 9 Wks. ($77,768,967).

FOR MOVIE STUDIOS, TOYS 'R THEM

The plethora of summer box-office blockbusters is giving headaches to toy manufacturers who have product tie-ins with the movies, the Los Angeles Times observed today (Monday). Martin Brochstein, executive editor of Licensing Letter, told the newspaper that retailers will probably not be keeping movie-related items on the shelves for long. "It's become a business of caution," he said. Toys linked to Spider-Man 3, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, and Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer are likely to be overshadowed by those related to Michael Bay's upcoming Transformers, due to be released over the July 4th weekend. Meanwhile, Daily Variety Editor-in-Chief Peter Bart has commented that Hollywood has become "avid for stories about toys and creatures from video games." Bart concludes: "Given the fact that the studios increasingly are being run by marketing gurus, it's no surprise that they've been searching for a new business model. Hence their motto: Toys 'r us. Not original, perhaps, but good business anyway."

MICHAEL MOORE HIRES FAMED LAWYER BOIES

Michael Moore has hired David Boies, arguably the nation's most famous trial attorney, to represent him, following the Treasury Department's announcement that it is investigating Moore's trip to Cuba last year to determine whether it violated the U.S. trade embargo on the country. Boies gained international fame when he led the Department of Justice team in its antitrust case against Microsoft. He also represented Al Gore in his challenge of the Florida election results. In a letter to the Treasury Department Monday, Boies expressed concern that Moore had been "selected for discriminatory treatment by your office" because of the content of Moore's planned documentary on the U.S. health system, Sicko. In the documentary, Moore takes several rescue workers who responded to the Sept. 11 attacks at the World Trade Center to Cuba for treatment after they had been turned away in the U.S.

YOUTUBE TO TEST COPYRIGHT PROTECTION SOFTWARE

YouTube, which has been accused of dragging its feet in developing technology that would identify those posting copyrighted video on its site, plans to test "video fingerprinting" software with Time Warner and Disney, it said Monday. A spokesman for the company indicated Monday that other media companies may also participate in the test.

SOPRANOS CREATOR SAYS A MOVIE WON'T BRING CLOSURE

Sopranos creator David Chase maintained Monday that he did not leave the final episode of the series unsettled so he could return with a theatrical movie tying up loose ends. In an interview with the New Jersey Star Ledger, the "hometown" newspaper of Tony Soprano, Chase said that he hasn't thought much about a possible movie. "I never say never. An idea could pop into my head where I would go, 'Wow, that would make a great movie,' but I doubt it." Chase declined to discuss the final scene, saying, "I have no interest in explaining, defending, reinterpreting, or adding to what is there."

NOTE: In Monday's edition, we cited a Bloomberg News item indicating that the Finding Nemo ride at Disneyland was the first based on a Pixar film. A Disney spokesman has informed us that another recent ride at Disneyland is based on Toy Story character Buzz Lightyear.

Cinemark Movie Club
Brian B.