AFTER 50 YEARS, DISNEY RELICS TO RETURN TO U.S.

Some 250 pieces of original Disney animation art that wound up lying in a janitor's closet at Chiba University in Japan for nearly a half century are due to be returned to the Walt Disney Co. after being rediscovered. In return, Disney has agreed to provide high-resolution digital copies of the artworks and $1 million to be used by the university to further studies in animation art. Items in the collection had originally been selected by Walt Disney himself to illustrate both the history of animation and its processes. It includes artwork from the 1932 short Flowers and Trees, Disney's first animated film in Technicolor. Since the exhibit was also intended to promote the Japanese opening of Sleeping Beauty, a large portion of the material focuses on that film, but there are also cels and background paintings from such movies as Fantasia, Bambi, and Cinderella. "There is no way to put a price on these works -- they represent our artistic heritage," Lella Smith, creative director of the Disney Animation Research Library, told the New York Times. "That said, their value as archival materials for study and research is very high."

HORTON GETS OFF TO STRONG MIDWEEK BOX OFFICE

Box office analysts were predicting big mid-week business for 20th Century Fox's Horton Hears a Who! as schools let out for the pre-Easter holiday break. On Monday, the G-rated film earned $3,615.494, according to box-office trackers Media by Numbers. That brought the film's four-day take to $48,628,492. Another family-targeted film, Disney's College Road Trip, took in $655,236 on Monday, off only 10 percent from the previous Monday.

DUTCH FILM COULD CREATE AFGHAN PROBLEMS, NATO GENERAL SAYS

NATO's supreme commander for operations, Gen. John Craddock, has expressed concern that a short documentary film by Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders critical of the Koran will provoke attacks on NATO soldiers serving in Afghanistan. In an interview with the Associated Press, Craddock remarked, "It's a problem of extremists; they want to use this to their advantage, whether it's rational or not." He said that he is particularly concerned that attacks might be directed at Dutch troops. "It would be unfortunate if soldiers of that nationality are held responsible for something they had nothing to do with," Craddock said. Meanwhile, Lynndie England, the Abu Ghraib guard who took many of the pictures that resulted in the biggest scandal of the Iraq war, said that while she "felt bad" about doing so, "If the media hadn't exposed the pictures to that extent, then thousands of lives would have been saved." In an interview with the German magazine Stern, England said that she also knows of other, more graphic pictures taken at the prison that have yet to surface including those showing vicious dogs being sicced on the prisoners. "If those had been made public at the time then the whole world would have looked at those and not at mine," she said.

2001 WRITER CLARKE DEAD AT 90

Arthur C. Clarke, the science-fiction novelist who famously collaborated with Stanley Kubrick on the screenplay for his 2001: A Space Odyssey, has died in his beloved Sri Lanka at age 90. In his novels he had predicted geostationary communications satellites (in 1945), cellular phones, the Internet and a moon landing that would employ a mother ship and a landing pod. Following the release of 2001, which was said to have been based largely on Clarke's short story "The Sentinel," Kubrick remarked, "He has the kind of mind of which the world can never have enough, an array of imagination, intelligence, knowledge and a quirkish curiosity, which often uncovers more than the first three qualities." Clarke saved his final prediction for his 90th birthday last December. "Over the next 50 years, thousands of people will travel to Earth orbit -- and then, to the moon and beyond," he wrote. "Space travel and space tourism will one day become almost as commonplace as flying to exotic destinations on our own planet."

CORRECTION:

Following the death of Anthony Minghella in London on Tuesday from a post-operative hemorrhage, some initial obituaries mentioned that he had won not only a director's Oscar for his 1996 film The English Patient but one for best adapted screenplay as well for that film. However, although Minghella was nominated for the screenplay award, it actually went to Billy Bob Thornton for Slingblade. Minghella did take home the screenplay award for Patient at the Golden Globes and BAFTA ceremonies.

Brian B.