i>300 LIGHTS FUSE IN IRAN

Warner Bros.' hit movie 300 has become the latest powder keg in relations between the U.S. and Iran. The movie, which earned $71 million at the box office last weekend, is based on the ancient battle of Thermopylae in which, according to Western lore, a force of 300 Spartans held off thousands of Persian soldiers. As reported by the Associated Press, Javad Shamghadri, cultural adviser to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, charged that the film represented another effort by the U.S. to humiliate Iran in order to "compensate for its wrongdoings in order to provoke American soldiers and warmongers" against Iran. The independent newspaper Ayende-No, said beneath the headline, "Hollywood Declares War on Iranians," "The film depicts Iranians as demons, without culture, feeling or humanity, who think of nothing except attacking other nations and killing people. ... It is a new effort to slander the Iranian people and civilization before world public opinion."

BIGGEST RETURNS FROM BIGGEST SCREENS FOR 300

Forty-eight of the 62 domestic IMAX theaters showing Warner Bros.' 300 last weekend set all-time ticket-sales records, with 57 theaters also reporting sell-outs, IMAX and Warner Bros. said Tuesday. The film, which commands premium prices on the super-sized IMAX screens, averaged $58,000 per screen. Moreover, the companies said, the movie posted an additional $700,000 -- or $11,300 per screen -- on Monday. In a statement, IMAX Filmed Entertainment Chairman and President Greg Foster said, "Our partnership with Warner Bros. Pictures and our teams' joint marketing and distribution efforts have resulted in more audiences wanting to experience the 300 fever in IMAX's immersive format, and based on what we're hearing from our theaters and the opening weekend results, word of mouth about this fantastic film is spreading quickly." Warner Bros. distribution chief Dan Fellman said that the studio was "beyond excited" by the results.

SUPERMAN PROMISES MORE ACTION NEXT TIME AROUND

Brandon Routh, the actor who played Superman in last year's franchise revival, has indicated that the producers of the next sequel were sensitive to audience and critical complaints that the film lacked sufficient action sequences. In an interview with the online edition of Britain's Empire magazine, Routh said that the last man-of-steel movie was formulated so that it would show Superman's love for Lois Lane and his son and villain Rex Luthor using that against him. "I just know that in the next film there will be a lot of action and I'm gonna get to fight something, or someone. An enemy with real physical power might be worked in there, definitely." Routh provided no details, saying only that the sequel was about to begin pre-production "so there's a lot of ideas in the air and a lot of discussion about what's going to happen with it. I promise a lot of excitement."

HD MOVIE CRACKS TOP-TEN LIST

For the first time, a movie in a high-definition DVD format has broken into the top ten among best-sellers. Amazon.com said Tuesday that Sony's Blu-ray HD version of Casino Royale debuted at #8 on its list. The standard-definition/wide-screen version of the movie topped it. The full-screen version came in at No. 10.

POLICE ARREST ACTOR DURING MOVIE SHOOT

Los Angeles police, who presumably were not alerted that a film shoot was in progress, rushed onto a Hollywood street last month and handcuffed actor Erik Palladino as he performed a scene using a prop gun in the movie Hotel California. A video of the arrest was posted Tuesday on the TMZ website. The celebrity gossip site reported that at the time of the arrest, director George Santini rushed onto the location scene and kidded Santini as he was being led away, "You gotta be on set tomorrow. That's what the contract says!" The crew explained to the officers that they were shooting a movie, and Palladino was released.

Brian B.