SITTING IN THE DOCK OF THE BAY
Never were the seas more stormy for The Pirate Bay than they were Monday as what was only described as a hardware issue brought the torrent-tracking website to a virtual halt -- just as the trial of its leaders was winding up in Stockholm. As for the service interruption, the website TorrentFreak, which reports on the BitTorrent world, commented, "One can't help but think that if The Pirate Bay was a traditional business making lots of profits as the prosecution in the case would have everyone believe, the site wouldn't suffer anywhere near the amount of downtime it does." The issue of monetary gain also came up during the closing arguments of the defense, with one lawyer arguing that the site had attracted just four advertisers who paid a total of $76,000 -- all of which went to operate the site -- rather than the millions claimed by the prosecution. (During a recess, one of the defendants, Gottfried Svartholm Warg, shouted, "It's totally absurd. Those figures are totally disconnected from reality." He then said of the prosecutor: "The old bastard's crazy.") Another lawyer said that the prosecution had failed to show a link between material downloaded from the Internet and lost sales by the movie and recording industries. Lawyers for each of the defendants insisted that none of them had participated in uploading or downloading copyrighted material and that in fact 80 percent of the material indexed by TPB was not copyrighted. As for the charge that TPB aided and abetted the commission of a crime, another lawyer responded that the accused had no contact with anyone who might have uploaded copyrighted material onto the Internet and did not even know anyone who did. Meanwhile, TorrentFreak reported that Slumdog Millionaire got the same kind of boost on the BitTorrent sites as it did in theaters. "Although the DVD screener of Slumdog Millionaire has been available since December last year, it never made it into our weekly top 10 up until now. According to our estimates, the film was downloaded close to a million times after it won the awards last Sunday," it said.
WOODY ALLEN FILM TO OPEN TRIBECA
The Tribeca Film Festival has selected Woody Allen's Whatever Works to kick off its eighth edition on April 22. Fittingly, the film marks Allen's return to New York, where he had shot most of his films before making his last four films in the U.K. and Spain. The festival was founded in 2002 by Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal following the 9/11 attacks in an effort to boost New York as a major filmmaking center and aid in the recovery of lower Manhattan from the attacks. Whatever Works features Larry David (Seinfeld, Curb Your Enthusiasm) in his first starring role in a movie.
MADEA TAKES A FALL, STILL WINS
Lionsgate's Tyler Perry's Madea Goes to Jail may have dropped a whopping 61 percent in box-office revenue in its second week, but it remained firmly in first place, according to final figures released by Media by Numbers Monday. It did so largely due to the failure of Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience to live up to analysts' expectations. The Disney film had been expected to earn $25-30 million -- with some forecasters putting the figure far higher -- but instead wound up with just $12.51 million. It barely edged out Fox Searchlight's Slumdog Millionaire, which has been in theaters for nearly four months. The Oscar winner placed third with $12.02 million. Overall, the box office continued on the winning string that began at the beginning of the year. Ticket sales totaled $87.22 million, up 9.38 percent over the $79.74 million that it registered during the comparable week a year ago. For the year, total box office sales are up 17.30 percent over last year, while attendance is up 15.53 percent.
The top ten films over the weekend, according to final figures compiled by Media by Numbers (figures in parentheses represent total gross to date):
1. Tyler Perry's Madea Goes to Jail, Lionsgate, $16,175,926, 2 Wks. ($64,525,548); 2. Jonas Brothers: The 3-D Concert Experience, Disney, $12,510,374, (New); 3. Slumdog Millionaire, Fox Searchlight, $12,026,343, 16 Wks. ($115,024,121); 4. Taken, Fox, $9,864,197, 5 Wks. ($107,796,273); 5. He's Just Not That Into You, Warner Bros., $6,011,405, 4 Wks. ($78,661,321); 6. Paul Blart: Mall Cop, Sony/Columbia, $5,602,392, 7 Wks. ($128,107,912); 7. Coraline, Focus, $5,261,129, 4 Wks. ($61,112,744); 8. Street Fighter: Legend of Chun-Li, Fox, $4,721,110, (New); 9. Confessions of a Shopaholic, Disney, $4,634,534, 3 Wks. ($33,806,050); 10. Fired Up, Sony/Screen Gems, $3,701,562, 2 Wks. ($10,038,772).