i>SEX MORE IN VOGUE THAN CRYSTAL SKULL

When Friday's box-office results for Sex and the City came in on Saturday, Hollywood gurus were stunned. The movie had earned just about as much as Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull had earned the previous Friday, just under $30 million. While advance word was that the movie would do especially well on Friday as groups of women got together for the premiere, no one had predicted that it would do that well. But Warner Bros. distribution chief Dan Fellman told the Associated Press, "There were women that came in and bought out entire theaters in advance and invited all their friends." Co-star Sarah Jessica Parker told the New York Times, "It is kind of mind-boggling." (Eighty-five percent of the audience Friday night was female.) And in fact the movie took in only half its Friday gross on Saturday and again on Sunday, winding up with $55.7 million -- just about what it reportedly cost to produce. And yes, it became the top moneymaker at the box office for the weekend, pushing Indy into second place with $46 million -- also something that no one had predicted. Also opening solidly was the horror flick The Strangers, with about $20.7 million, to place third. Some experts are predicting that Crystal Skull will return to the top spot next week and remain there for a while, pointing out that the potential audience for that film is far greater than that for Sex and the City -- especially as kids begin pouring out of school for summer vacation.

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

1. Sex and the City, $55.7 million; 2. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, $46 million; 3. The Strangers, $20.7 million; 4. Iron Man, $14 million; 5. The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, $13 million; 6. What Happens in Vegas, $6.9 million; 7. Baby Mama, $2.2 million; 8. Speed Racer, $2.1 million; 9. Made of Honor, $2 million; 10. Forgetting Sarah Marshall, $1 million.

TRANSFORMERS VOTED BEST FILM BY MTV VIEWERS

Let the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and all of those film festivals hand out trophies for movies offering high drama and art. The folks who vote for the MTV Movie Awards appeared to have fun as their top criteria when they handed out their golden popcorn trophy Sunday night. They gave Transformers their top award for best film. Johnnie Depp accepted trophies for best comedic performance for Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End and for best villain for Sweeney Todd. Accepting the first award, Depp seemed as curious about it as anyone in the audience. "You can ask anybody," he said. "I'm not a very funny person. I'm not even remotely funny."

IRS MAN CHARGED WITH SNOOPING ON CELEBS' RETURNS

An IRS tax examiner in Cincinnati has been charged with snooping on the tax records of more than 200 film and TV personalities and sports stars, The Smoking Gun website reported today (Monday). In a misdemeanor criminal complaint posted on the TSG website, authorities charged 56-year-old John Snyder with accessing the computerized tax records of such celebrities as Eddie Albert, Kevin Bacon, Alec Baldwin, Timothy Bottoms, Chevy Chase, John Cleese, directors Joel and Ethan Coen (whose names appeared as "Cohen"), Sally Field, Penny Marshall, Randy Quaid, and Vanna White. The complaint said that Snyder accessed their tax records "for which no business-related purpose could be identified" and that when confronted with evidence of his spying, he confessed, "stating that he did so out of curiosity."

TOWERING INFERNO AT UNIVERSAL

Universal Studios provided the setting for a remake of The Towering Inferno Sunday as balls of fire and billowing smoke rose hundreds of feet into the sky over the historic studio -- none of it created by special-effects personnel. The blaze destroyed several sets and a warehouse containing about 40,000 videos. Studio officials said that the original negatives and/or duplicates were stored at a different location and that the lost videos could eventually be replaced. The Universal Studios theme park, which was shut down by the fire, was due to reopen today (Monday), but tourists riding the tram through the studio's lot would probably see the charred remains of some historic outdoor sets. A small building through which the tram passes on the studio tour in which King Kong appears to attack the tram, which jiggles and rocks, was also destroyed. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

GONE WITH THE WIND MUSICAL JUST GONE

The British stage version of Gone With the Wind has gone with the wind, shutting down after about a month after neither critics nor audiences appeared to give a damn. The BBC observed that turning the film into a stage musical directed by Trevor Nunn had originally been "considered a sure-fire recipe for success." Over the past month, the musical was cut from its original length of four hours 20 minutes to three hours 10 minutes. But, the BBC said, "It was too little, too late."

Brian B. at Movieweb
Brian B.