ANALYST: MONSTERS SHOULD BE MONSTER HIT

Presumably making his judgment sight unseen, Rich Greenfield of Pali Capital Research has estimated that DreamWorks Animation's Monsters vs. Aliens will earn a "conservative" $483 million worldwide. (He forecasts $186 million domestically and $297 million overseas.) Greenfield, who also raised his estimates for DreamWorks Animation as a whole, said that he had based his projections on the recent strength shown in movie attendance as well as the benefits of premium 3D ticket pricing. Greenfield also predicts that Monsters will become an addition to its "growing stable of franchises that it is exploiting."

BAY WANTS TO TRANSFORM TRANSFORMERS III RELEASE DATE

After Paramount raised eyebrows on Monday by announcing a July 1, 2011 release date for Transformers 3 before it was even officially greenlighted, director Michael Bay quickly dashed off a note on his blog insisting that "Paramount made a mistake." Bay acknowledged that Paramount executives had phoned him about releasing the film on the July 4th holiday weekend but that he thought they were referring to 2012. "Whoops, not 2011," he wrote. "That would mean I would have to start prep in September. No way. My brain needs a break from fighting robots." Paramount did not immediately respond, and it was not clear whether executives would be willing to wait another three years for the next Transformers sequel. The first sequel, Revenge of the Fallen, is due to be released on June 24.

ICAHN AND LIONS GATE: THE LEAD-UP TO WAR

Preparations for a pitched battle between corporate raider Carl Icahn and Lions Gate Entertainment appeared to be in full swing Tuesday as Icahn revealed further details of the offer he made last week to buy $325 million in company debt. Although the offer averaged about 75 percent of face value, it represented somewhat more than what similar deals are now fetching on the market. If bondholders agree to his offer, Icahn could then convert the debt to equity in the company, thereby lifting his stake to 20 percent. For its part, Lions Gate is reportedly hiring some top advisers and attorneys to defend itself against Icahn.

BEHIND-THE-SCENES TALKS TO RESOLVE SAG STALEMATE?

As his so-called hard-line predecessor had done last year, Screen Actors Guild interim executive director David White claimed Tuesday that while no formal negotiations are currently being conducted with the Alliance of Motion Pictures and Television Producers, "our negotiators are active behind the scenes." White's remarks were contained in an e-mail message to members on Tuesday. "While the rigorous confidentiality required in negotiation settings prevents me from providing a full update here, I want to assure you that we are working deliberately, and with as much haste as possible, to conclude our talks and bring to you, the members, a deal for your ratification," he said. Meanwhile, reports indicated late Tuesday that talks between SAG and AFTRA on one side and the advertising industry on the other over a new commercials contract are not going well and that the two unions are preparing to ask members for strike authorization. But trade reports suggested that the unions are leaking word of such a move as a negotiating ploy with the advertisers.

SPENDING WAY UP AT CONCESSION STANDS

In an article headlined "No Raisinet Recession at Carmike Cinemas," today's (Wednesday) New York Times reported that the 250-theater chain reported a 7.2 increase in snackbar sales during the fourth quarter of last year versus the same period a year earlier -- despite the fact that Carmike closed over a dozen underperforming theaters in 2008. The chain said that the average patron spent $3.27 at its concession counters.

SLUMDOG TO DEBUT IN CHINA

China, which limits the number of foreign movies it imports onto the mainland to 20 each year -- most of them in the blockbuster category -- is including Slumdog Millionaire among them this year. The Associated Press reported that the Oscar-winning movie easily cleared China's censorship board. It will premiere in Beijing on Wednesday, with director Danny Boyle in attendance. In its report about the Slumdog release, the AP observed: "Many Chinese are likely to have already seen Slumdog Millionaire on bootleg DVD in a country where piracy is rampant."