WHAT GOES UP GOES DOWN
It was an up weekend at the box office for Disney as its Pixar-produced Up opened with $68.11 million, beating last year's debut of WALL-E -- and less than $2 million behind Pixar's two biggest hits, The Incredibles and Finding Nemo. But it was a down weekend for the box office as a whole, with total ticket sales slightly below what they were for the same weekend a year ago, when the premiere of Sex and the City and the second week of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull together took in $101.60 million all by themselves. The top twelve films this weekend earned $161.01 million, while last year's grossed $163.99 million. Another downer: The critically well-received horror flick Drag Me to Hell -- horror flicks are rarely well-received -- took in a modest $15.83 million to place fourth in the final results. (By contrast, last December's critically slammed Saw V opened with $30.1 million.) Monday's estimates had put it in third place. But despite the down weekend, year-to-date revenue stands at $3.61 billion, up 13.63 percent over last year. Attendance is up 11 percent.
The top ten films over the weekend, according to final figures compiled by Box Office Mojo (figures in parentheses represent total gross to date):
1. Up, Disney, $68,108,790, (New); 2. Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, 20th Century Fox, $24,353,868, 2 Wks. ($104,150,268); 3. Terminator Salvation, Warner Bros., $16,433,365, 2 Wks. ($90,949,924); 4. Drag Me to Hell, Universal, $15,825,480, (New); 5. Star Trek, Paramount, $12,613,727, 4 Wks. ($209,313,884); 6. Angels & Demons, Sony, $11,353,340, 2 Wks. ($104,913,439); 7. Dance Flick, Paramount, $4,743,636, 2 Wks. ($19,084,907); 8. X-Men Origins: Wolverine, 20th Century Fox, $3,873,377, 5 Wks. ($170,843,712); 9. Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, Warner Bros., $1,911,401, 5 Wks. ($50,021,779); 10. Obsessed, Sony, $657,001, 6 Wks. ($6,750,0481).
LIONSGATE'S BIG REVENUE RESULTS IN BIG LOSS
In what is likely to serve as further ammunition for corporate raider Carl Icahn should he proceed with his effort to gain control of Lions Gate, the company on Monday reported its second-highest quarterly revenue in its history but nevertheless a significant net loss for the year. In an SEC filing, the studio said that its fourth quarter revenue came to $463.2 million, while revenue for the year came to $1.47 billion. However, although its revenue was up 8 percent for the year, it wound up with a net loss of $163.2 million, more than double its $74-million loss a year earlier. Lions Gate attributed the loss to the poor performance of its movie releases in the second and third quarters, although fourth-quarter film revenue was strong, thanks to such hits as Tyler Perry's Madea Goes to Jail, My Bloody Valentine 3D and The Haunting in Connecticut. In a statement, Lions Gate chief Jon Feltheimer said, "We ended our fiscal year on a strong note, with record box office in the first calendar quarter." He said he expected "strong positive metrics" in its new fiscal year. Just last week, it sold 49 percent of its TV Guide cable channel and TVGuide.com for $123 million.
MOVIE PATRONS TO INTERACT WITH STARS
A company that is distributing movies and live events to digitally equipped theaters via satellite announced Monday that it is setting up a question-and-answer session between the cast of a new movie and the audience watching it. Cinedigm Digital Cinema Corp said the Q&A will take place on June 19 in conjunction with the 17-city opening of The Narrows, which stars Vincent D'Onofrio of NBC's Law and Order. "We are upgrading a passive viewing experience to be more dynamic, immersive and even interactive, and the possibility for continued innovation is endless," commented Bud Mayo, CEO of Cinedigm, in a statement. "We are truly excited to be able to present an event like this for the first time ever." In an interview with Reuters, D'Onofrio remarked, "Anything to get small films out there in a lot of cinemas [is great], because before this, it was art houses."