BIKER TRAFFIC JAM AT THE BOX OFFICE

The weekend box office will disclose whether John Travolta, Martin Lawrence, Tim Allen and William H. Macy as motorcyclists in Wild Hogs will be able to overtake Nicolas Cage in Ghost Rider, a movie that has maintained a significant lead over the last two weekends. Hogs won't be helped by road-kill reviews by most critics. David Fincher's Zodiac about the infamous San Francisco serial killer, is also likely to make a strong debut for Paramount and is receiving many critical raves. Meanwhile, Paramount's specialty division, Paramount Vantage, is releasing Black Snake Moan in more limited release.

SONY SHARES PLUMMET

Shares in Sony Corp. tumbled today (Friday) after the company disclosed that it was paying Immersion Corp. $150.3 million to settle a patent dispute. Sony stock fell 5.5 percent on the Tokyo exchange, its largest slide in nearly four years. The lawsuit concerned technology Sony uses in its PlayStation game devices that make controllers vibrate. Sony and Immersion issued a joint statement saying that they would work together in the future to explore "new ways to bring the largest and best range of gameplay experiences to our customers."

MOVIE REVIEWS: ZODIAC

Zodiac, based on the still-unresolved case of the San Francisco serial killer who courted media attention, is opening to vastly contradictory reviews. "Rarely has a film with so much blood on its hands seemed so insistently alive," write Manohla Dargis in the New York Times. "The movie holds you because of [director David Fincher's] unexpected sensitivity to the human factors that both propel and complicate the chase for an inhuman murderer," Michael Sragow writes in the Baltimore Sun. On the other hand, Bruce Westbrook in the Houston Chronicle calls the film "one of the dullest" movies about serial killings ever and concludes: "Earth calling Hollywood: The serial-killer flick has been done to death, so get over it." And Christy LeMire of the Associated Press warns: "Zodiac runs an astonishing two hours and 40 minutes, and it feels like it."

MOVIE REVIEWS: BLACK SNAKE MOAN

"Outrageous" is the description that pops up in several reviews of Black Snake Moan, starring Samuel L. Jackson, Justin Timberlake, and Christina Ricci. It's a term that has both negative and positive connotations. "The movie strolls right past absurdity into offensiveness," writes Elizabeth Weitzman in the New York Daily News. Similarly, Claudia Puig comments in USA Today: "Though this film tries to convey a sense of campy fun, it ends up feeling off-putting and disturbing." But A.O. Scott in the New York Times remarks, "Underneath the surface of racial and sexual button pushing, behind the brandished guns and bared breasts, is a heart of pure, buttery cornpone." Joe Morgenstern concludes in the Wall Street Journal: "For all the preposterous clichés of the plot ... Black Snake Moan finds unchained energy in its foolishness." Bob Strauss writes in the Los Angeles Daily News: "What goes on in this certifiably nuts movie is so extreme and original that you can't help gazing at it in awe. When you're not inclined to divert your eyes, anyway." And in the Chicago Sun-Times, Roger Ebert commented on the audience's response to the film: "I had never really heard many half-snorts before. Snorts, yes, and silence. But what do you make of an audience that has no idea how to react?"

MOVIE REVIEWS: WILD HOGS

Reviews for Wild Hogs, starring Martin Lawrence, John Travolta, Tim Allen, and William H. Mace, read like a freeway warning sign. "Biker Comedy Goes Nowhere Fast" is the headline on Elizabeth Weitzman's review in the New York Daily News. "Goopy mush," is the way Gene Seymour describes it in Newsday. Other critical comments: "I felt as if I were asphyxiating in an avalanche of sagging flesh." (Michael Sragow in the Baltimore Sun): "This movie stinks of exhaust and desperation." (Claudia Puig in USA Today).

Cinemark Movie Club
Brian B.