A movie that reportedly cost only about $25-30 million to make nearly stole the thunder from one that reportedly cost more than $200 million to make. While Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End did top the box office in its second week with an estimated $43.2 million, the total represented a 62-percent plunge from its opening. On the other hand, the raunchy Universal comedy Knocked Up -- described by New York Timescritic A.O. Scott on Friday as "an instant classic" -- debuted with $29.3 million -- nearly twice the amount that analysts had predicted, to place second. Shrek the Third also recorded a big drop in its third weekend as it took third place with $26.7 million, about half of what it earned last weekend. The opening of MGM's Mr. Brooks came in at the low end of forecasts with $10 million. The only other film to open wide, Gracie, tanked with just $1.4 million.

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

1. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, $43.2 million; 2. Knocked Up, $29.3 million; 3. Shrek the Third,$26.7 million; 4. Mr. Brooks, $10 million; 5. Spider-Man 3, $7.5 million; 6. Waitress, $2 million; 7. Gracie, $1.4 million; 8. Bug, $1.22 million; 9. 28 Weeks Later, $1.2 million; 10. Disturbia, $1.1 million.


Pirates not only captured the box office over the weekend but the MTV Movie Awards, too. Actually, it was the second installment, Dead Man's Chest, that received the trophies for best movie and best performance (Johnny Depp). Accepting the Golden Popcorn trophy, producer Jerry Bruckheimer turned to Depp and told the audience, "Without him, we wouldn't be here." Depp, who reportedly perturbed Disney executives when they first became aware of his outlandish interpretation of his role as Captain Jack Sparrow, responded, "I'd like to thank this man and Disney for not firing me first."


Although many Internet tech sites regard as absurd claims that movies camcorded in Canadian movie theaters account for a quarter of all of those being bootlegged online or on pirate DVDs, the MPAA on Friday cheered the introduction of a new law in the Canadian Parliament that would impose jail sentences of 2-5 years on anyone convicted of camcording a movie in a theater without the manager's consent. MPAA chief Dan Glickman said that the introduction of the law in Ottawa "demonstrates the profound responsibility of legislators worldwide to protect their local film industries and economies from the damage caused by camcord piracy." The MPAA said in a statement that camcorded movies represent "more than 90 percent of newly released movies that end up on the Internet and on the streets" -- another claim that is hotly disputed by websites tracking online videos.


A new musical adaptation of Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind, to be directed by Trevor Nunn, will open in London's West End in April 2008 with tickets to go on sale in September, it was announced Friday. Nunn is regarded as one of the top theatrical directors of recent times. His credits include Les Misérables, Cats, Starlight Express, Nicholas Nickleby,and Sunset Boulevard.A news release said that the GWTW production, featuring music and lyrics by unknown composer Margaret Martin, has been in development for three years. It quoted producer Aldo Scrofani as saying that it would "remain true to Margaret Mitchell's original story and characters while also revealing its relevance to our lives today." The 1939 movie adaptation of Mitchell's book is regarded as the most successful movie of all time.


The New York Times's Hollywood correspondent, Sharon Waxman, who was plucked from the Los Angeles Timesin a raid in 2003, is going on a six-month leave to complete work on a book about antiquities looting and may not return to her Hollywood beat afterwards, according to L.A. Weeklycolumnist Nikki Finke. "Several months ago, I asked my editors for a new challenge. After all, I've been covering Hollywood for 11 years now, four of them for the Times. But I don't yet know what I'll be doing," Waxman told Finke. Waxman, who studied at Oxford and speaks both Hebrew and Arabic. reported for Reuters from Jerusalem for two years.