i>300 IS STILL COUNTING

It may have seen a 56-percent drop in ticket sales from last weekend, but Warner Bros.' 300 nevertheless remained far ahead of its rivals at the box office in its second weekend with an estimated take of $31.2 million. The biker comedy Wild Hogs remained in second place, dropping only 32 percent, as it raked in about $18.8 million and crossed the $100-million mark in its third weekend. (There have been numerous reports that teens have been buying tickets for the PG-13-rated Hogs, then sneaking in to see the R-rated 300.) Sandra Bullock's Premonition debuted in third place with around $18 million, while the horror film Dead Silence, which was not screened for critics, opened in fourth place with $7.8 million. But the Chris Rock romantic comedy I Think I Love My Wife tanked in its opening weekend, earning only $5.7 million. And Paramount's Zodiac, the highly touted and well-reviewed thriller, sank to eighth place in its third weekend, taking in only $3 million. In limited release, Ken Loach's The Wind That Shakes the Barley, last year's Cannes Film Festival winner about two brothers on opposites sides or the 1920s' civil war in Ireland, opened strongly in nine theaters with $75,311. Overall, despite horrendous weather conditions in some parts of the country and competition from the NCAA basketball tournament on TV, the box office was up a remarkable 10.5 percent over the comparable weekend a year ago, with the top-twelve films taking in an estimated $102.4 million.

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

1. 300, $31.2 million; 2. Wild Hogs, $18.8 million; 3. Premonition, $18 million; 4. Dead Silence, $7.8 million; 5. I Think I Love My Wife, $5.7 million; 6. Bridge to Terabithia, $5.1 million; 7. Ghost Rider, $4 million; 8. Zodiac, $3.1 million; 9. Norbit, $2.7 million; 10. Music and Lyrics, $2.2 million.

DISNEY CLEARS JOBS OF WRONGDOING

As far as the Walt Disney Co. is concerned, Steve Jobs was not involved "in any intentional or deliberate acts of misconduct" when he was the chairman of Pixar Animation. In a statement issued on Friday, Disney Chairman John Pepper appeared to be addressing reports that Jobs might have approved backdating options for top Pixar executives prior to the sale of the company to Disney. The matter is currently being scrutinized by federal regulators, who are also looking into similar backdated options issued to executives at Apple, Inc., which Jobs continues to head as chairman.

LOST IN TRANSLATION

Efforts by overseas film distributors to cut costs by outsourcing subtitle translations to such countries as India and Malaysia have resulted in creating dialog that makes little sense to local audiences, according to today's (Monday) London Times. The newspaper observed that translators with little understanding of the nuances of English are taking the place of British subtitlers, many with long careers in the business. Kenn Nakata Steffenson, who translates English films into Danish and Japanese films into English, cited one film in which the line "Jim is a Vietnam vet" became "Jim is veterinarian from Vietnam" in the farmed-out Danish subtitles. In another film, the words "flying into an asteroid field" became "flying into a steroid field." In yet another, "She died in a freak rugby accident" became "She died in a rugby match for people with deformities." In My Super Ex-Girlfriend, Uma Thurman's line, "We have a zero-tolerance policy for sexual harassment" was translated into Taiwanese as "We hold the highest standards for sexual harassment." The Times said that Mexican director Guillermo del Toro was so upset with the English subtitles for his 2001 film The Devil's Backbone that he himself worked on the subtitles for last year's award-winning Pan's Labyrinth.

INDIAN SUPERMODEL, ACTRESS PORTRAYS LESBIAN

A top Bollywood actress has touched off controversy in India following word that she will play a lesbian in her forthcoming movie, I Can't Think Straight, which was recently filmed in England. Indian-Canadian Lisa Ray, who starred in Deepa Mehta's Oscar-nominated Water, declined to discuss the film when contacted by IANS, the Indian wire service. But Aseem Bajaj, director of photography on the film, remarked that he does not see the subject matter as controversial -- "not in this day and age." Ray herself is not unfamiliar with controversy generated by her films. Water sparked violent protests by Hindu fundamentalists when it began shooting in Varanasi in 2000, forcing the Uttar Pradesh government to halt additional filming there.

Brian B. at Movieweb
Brian B.