i>SPIDER BITES BOX OFFICE OVERSEAS

On its opening day in Europe and Asia Spider-Man 3 earned more than the first two films did combined on their opening days, Sony Films said Wednesday. The movie set records in many countries,including France, Italy, Belgium and Korea, the company said. The studio said it had released the film three days before its U.S. opening as a way of countering piracy. Ordinarily, bootleg copies of movies, often made by people holding camcorders in U.S. movie theaters, wind up in overseas shops before the films open theatrically. Sony said first-day ticket sales for Spider-Man 3 totaled $29.2 million, compared with $10.6 million in the same markets for the original Spider-Man and $15.6 million for Spider-Man 2. Meanwhile, Sony distribution chief Jeff Blake has told the Los Angeles Times that the studio has moved advertising funds from newspapers to the Internet to promote the movie. "The Web," he told the newspaper, "is a pretty economical way to reach moviegoers." Moreover, the Times reported, Sony is carefully monitoring comments about the film on blogs and message boards in order to fashion its online publicity campaign.

BLOCKBUSTER BUSTED AGAIN

Costs connected with Blockbuster's Total Access rental program, which permits subscribers to rent films online, then return them to a store, resulted in a first-quarter net loss of $46.4 million versus a loss of $1.9 million during the comparable quarter a year ago. Nevertheless, the program also resulted in a 5.4-percent boost in total revenue, which rose to $1.47 billion from $1.4 billion last year. Blockbuster said in its SEC filing that it expected the program will eventually contribute to its future profitability.

NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM ROARS BACK ON DVD

Twentieth Century Fox's Night at the Museum took in more than $100 million in DVD sales in its first week in the stores as 6 million copies were grabbed up by consumers, according to Nielsen VideoScan's First Alert. The film was also No. 1 in rental outlets, generating an estimated $11.6 million, Home Media Retail magazine reported. The trade publication noted that sales of the Ben Stiller comedy were likely helped by a marketing campaign in which a giant dinosaur, like the one in the movie, was brought on a 10-city cross-country promotional tour.

CANNES ANNOUNCES THIS YEAR'S CLASSICS PROGRAM

This year's annual Cannes Film Festival "classics" program will salute the work of Henry Fonda, John Wayne, Marlon Brando, Elaine May, and Laurence Olivier among others, the festival announced Wednesday. Fonda's daughter Jane is expected to be on hand for a screening of one of her father's best-loved films, Sidney Lumet's Twelve Angry Men, which was produced 50 years ago. The 100th anniversary of the birth of John Wayne will be commemorated by screenings of his 1953 film Hondo and 1959's Rio Bravo. A restored print of Mikey and Nicky will be shown as part of a presentation of 10 restored films, while the recently broadcast Brando will be featured among a selection of documentaries, while three restored film versions of Shakespearian plays starring Laurence Olivier, Hamlet, Henry V, and Richard III, will also be presented.

JUDGE UPHOLDS DAMAGE AWARD TO TABLOID MAGAZINE

Britain's Law Lords judges, the five members of the House of Lords who form the equivalent of the U.S.'s Supreme Court, ruled Wednesday that the gossip magazine Hello! must pay rival OK! magazine more than $4 million in damages and court costs for publishing photos taken with hidden cameras at the November 2000 wedding of Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones. The couple had signed an exclusive $2-million deal with OK! to cover the wedding. Previously,a court of appeal had upheld a ruling against Hello! but said that OK! had not been damaged and ordered Hello! to return the damage award. Wednesday's ruling reversed the appeals court ruling.

Brian B.