SPIDEY TAKES A DIVE BUT REMAINS OVERHEAD

Ticket sales for Spider-Man 3 plummeted 60 percent from last weekend,but the estimated $60 million it took in was still nearly twice what all the other movies in the top 12 earned altogether. However, it broke no new records. Its domestic gross stands at $242.1 million after 10 days; its worldwide total, at 242.1 million. Speaking to the Associated Press, Media by Numbers chief Paul Dergarabedian remarked, "Any studio would be happy to have a movie opening with $60 million, let alone a second weekend with $60 million." No. 2 on the list was the zombie movie 28 Weeks Later, which opened with about $10 million. Georgia Rule, starring Jane Fonda and Lindsay Lohan, debuted in third place with $5.9 million. Another new film, Delta Farce, which had not been screened for critics, flopped with just $3.5 million.

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

1. Spider-Man 3, $60 million; 2. 28 Weeks Later, $10 million; 3. Georgia Rule, $5.9 million; 4. Disturbia, $4.8 million; 5. Delta Farce, $3.5 million; 6. Fracture, $2.9 million; 7. The Invisible, $2.2 million; 8. Hot Fuzz, $1.7 million; 9. Next, $1.604 million.

WILL SHREK THE THIRD BE SHREK THE LAST?

DreamWorks Animation's Shrek 2, which holds the record for the highest-grossing animated film of all time, is likely to keep that record even after Shrek 3 debuts next weekend, analysts are predicting. Initial reviews have been relatively tame, with many critics writing that the movie offers little to distinguish itself from the previous two installments. In the words of the Hollywood Reporter: "The rude send-up of beloved fairytale conventions remains -- somewhat -- but these playful jabs no longer come as a pleasuring surprise. You expect them. And you expect better." Britain's Scotland on Sunday (published on Shrek's home turf), while commenting that "critics have been wrong before," noted that the general conclusion is that "something is missing " from the new film and that the film could well turn out to be "a turkey rather than a blockbuster."

MICHAEL MOORE RESPONDS TO GOVERNMENT PROBE

Michael Moore has hit back at the Bush administration, which has launched an investigation of his recent trip to Cuba, during which he took 9/11 responders to hospitals for treatment. The trip was filmed for his upcoming documentary Sicko, which is due to be screened next week at the Cannes Film Festival. In a letter sent to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson on Friday and posted on the liberal website The Daily Kos, Moore said, "For five and a half years, the Bush administration has ignored and neglected the heroes of the 9/11 community. ... I understand why the Bush administration is coming after me -- I have tried to help the very people they refuse to help, but until George W. Bush outlaws helping your fellow man, I have broken no laws and I have nothing to hide."

STUDENT CLAIMS TEACHER FORCED HER TO WATCH BROKEBACK

A 12-year-old girl and her grandparents are suing the Chicago Board of Education, claiming that she was required to watch the R-rated film Brokeback Mountain in class last year. They claim that the film, which depicts the longterm homosexual affair of two cowboys, traumatized her and that she subsequently had to undergo psychological treatment. The girl, Jessica Turner, and her grandparents, Kenneth and LaVerne Richardson, are seeking $500,000 in damages. In an interview with the Associated Press, Kenneth Richardson, Jessica's grandfather and legal guardian, also said that the movie was "against our faith."

MOST PEOPLE WON'T DOWNLOAD MOVIES, SAYS STUDY

American consumers are not likely to go to the Internet en masse for movies to watch at home, according to a study by Forrester Research. A new study indicates that the relatively small numbers of people who currently download movies will continue to do so -- and may increase the number of films they buy online -- but they are not likely to attract many others. Forrester predicts that the number of people purchasing movies or TV shows online will grow from 7 million to 11 million, then level off at that number.


Brian B.