BOX-OFFICE FORTUNE TELLERS NEED NEW CRYSTAL BALL
In the end, the box-office prognosticators were wrong again. There was not a tight, three-way contest for the top spot among the newcomers, as they had predicted. One of the three performed better than expected; two of them, worse than expected. And the box-office overall did not resume the winning streak that began before the start of the year. For the second week in a row it was down by double-digit percentage points. The box-office gurus did figure that the Nicolas Cage sci-fi action yarn Knowing probably had the inside track -- and on that they were right. But its estimated $24.8-million haul turned out to be not only far higher than expected but an especially painful slap in the face to movie critics who had lambasted the movie -- and nearly all of them did -- and had gone on to predict that it would become a box-office dud. (The movie's success also gave a big boost to its studio, Summit Entertainment, which produced another big hit, Twilight, a few months ago.) In second place was Paramount's R-rated I Love You, Man, which opened with $18 million, slightly lower than what analysts had predicted. And in third place the critically praised, Julia Roberts-Clive Owen drama Duplicity also came in at the low end of expectations with $14.4 million. Total box-office revenue was pegged at $107 million, down 5.2 percent from a year earlier. Two factors were primarily blamed on the downturn -- competition from March Madness on television and from Saturday's DVD release of Twilight on the other. Ratings for the NCAA basketball tourney went through the roof (see separate item) and sales of the Twilight DVD did the same, as more than 3 million copies were snatched up on Saturday alone.
The top ten films for the weekend, according to studio estimates compiled by Media by Numbers:
1. Knowing, $24.8 million; 2. I Love You, Man, $18 million; 3. Duplicity, $14.4 million; 4. Race to Witch Mountain, $13 million; 5. Watchmen, $6.7 million; 6. The Last House on the Left, $5.9 million; 7. Taken, $4.1 million; 8. Slumdog Millionaire, $2.7 million; 9. Tyler Perry's Madea Goes to Jail, $2.5 million; 10. Coraline, $2.1 million.
WARNER TO MAKE DVD COPIES TO ORDER
There are just so many DVDs that a retailer can keep in stock -- and for that reason, no studio has ever released its entire library of movies on DVD. But Warner Bros. Home Video now plans to launch a new program under which anyone will eventually be able to order any of 6,800 films in the Warner library and receive a made-to-order copy within a week. "This news is going to make a lot of people really happy," George Feltenstein, senior vice president of theatrical catalog marketing at Warner Home Video, told USA Today. The program apparently is being rolled out in stages. In the first stage, being launched today (Monday), about 150 films never released on DVD will be offered for sale at $19.95 for a physical DVD and $14.95 for download from the website warnerarchive.com.
VATICAN MAY BOYCOTT ANGELS AND DEMONS
Just as The De Vinci Code drew condemnation from the upper echelons of the Vatican, so, too has its sequel, Angels & Demons. (Actually, Angels was written by Dan Brown before Code and is therefore sometimes referred to as a prequel.) On Friday, the Vatican's official newspaper Avvenire commented that the church "cannot approve" of the film, much of whose plot takes place in Vatican city. The following day, the Turin daily La Stampa suggested that the church has been considering boycotting the film but that officials are concerned that such an action could result in a "boomerang effect" that would result in even more people going to see it. The film is scheduled to open worldwide on May 15.
IATSE SIGNS NEW CONTRACT WITH PRODUCERS
Leaving the Screen Actors Guild as the only major union in Hollywood not to have signed a contract with the movie studios and TV networks, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), which represents most of Hollywood's film crews, have signed a new three-year deal with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.