HEAVY METAL PLAYS WELL AT BOX OFFICE -- IRON

Moviegoers did not stay at home to play the latest Grand Theft Auto videogame over the weekend, as some analysts had predicted. Indeed the only grand theft evident was the one committed by Paramount/Marvel's Iron Man, which took in $98.6 million domestically over the three-day weekend, according to figures released Monday by Media by Numbers. The film averaged a stand-out $24,024 per theater. Nevertheless, it failed to meet the studio's expectations on Sunday. While it raked in $35.23 million on Friday and $37.35 million on Saturday, its Sunday receipts fell to $26.03 million. Sony's Made of Honor opened in second place with $14.8 million, while last weekend's winner, Universal's Baby Mama slipped to third with $10.07 million. While, taken on its own, the total weekend box-office take of $150.7 million seemed impressive, it paled in comparison to last year's, when Spider-Man 3 debuted over the comparable weekend with $151.1 million alone. The overall box office was down 16.92 percent from last year. Since the beginning of the year, total revenue is down 3.4 percent, while attendance is down 6.1 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. Iron Man, Paramount, $98,618,668, 1 Wks. ($102,118,668); 2. Made of Honor, Sony, $14,756,850, (New); 3. Baby Mama, Universal, $10,065,010, 2 Wks. ($32,062,480); 4. Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantánamo Bay, Warner Bros., $61,143,73, 2 Wks. ($25,369,337); 5. Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Universal, $6,059,920, 3 Wks. ($44,732,340); 6. The Forbidden Kingdom, Lionsgate, $4,187,897, 3 Wks. ($45,112,303); 7. Nim's Island, Fox, $2,677,543, 5 Wks. ($42,471,660); 8. Prom Night, Sony, $2,403,313, 4 Wks. ($41,350,731); 9. 21, Sony, $2,002,471, 6 Wks. ($78,959,237); 10. 88 Minutes, Sony/Tristar, $1,545,084, 3 Wks. ($15,368,925).

REDSTONE FAVORS CRACKDOWN ON PIRACY -- INCLUDING YOUTUBE

Media mogul Sumner Redstone used the Seoul Digital Forum as a platform to renew his call on Asian countries to crack down on video piracy. In a keynote speech Monday Redstone said that he was "increasingly preaching to the converted" as he watched governments taking a more active interest in copyright issues "if only to protect their own homegrown content." Later, however, he took a swipe at U.S. website YouTube, which Viacom has sued for $1 billion for copyright infringement. "We cannot tolerate any form of piracy by anyone, including YouTube," he said. He repeated the oft-disputed claim that movie pirates cost his industry more than $20 billion a year. Speaking with reporters later, Redstone, who ousted Tom Cruise's production company from the Paramount lot two years ago because the actor's "conduct has not been acceptable" while promoting the latest Mission: Impossible movie, said he would not interfere if Paramount wants to sign Cruise to make another film. "I consider Tom Cruise a great actor and a good friend, and if Paramount decides to go ahead with him, I will not object," Redstone said.

NEW YORK A HOTBED OF PIRATES, A.G. SAYS

New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, claiming that 50 percent of all pirated movies are sold in New York, has chastised judges for being too lenient with those caught taping movies in theaters with camcorders. Cuomo told a New York news conference on Monday that first-time offenders should be fined as much as $1,000 and up to a year in jail and that repeat offenders should be charged with committing a felony. (Currently movie piracy is treated as a misdemeanor.) "We need a new law on the books of the state that punishes this act like the crime it is," Cuomo said. Also attending Cuomo's news conference were MPAA chief Dan Glickman, writer-comedienne Tina Fey, and NBC Universal President Jeff Zucker.

IMAX BUILDING BOOM WILL SEE DIGITAL SWITCH

IMAX is engaged in a "construction boom" that will see the number of IMAX theaters in North America increase by nearly 80 percent by the end of next year, USA Today reported today. Many of the new venues, it indicated, will deploy digital projectors instead of the enormous machines that have been required in the past to project images from gigantic reels of 70mm film stock onto the oversized screen. Some of the movies that will be converted into the IMAX format this year include Speed Racer, Kung Fu Panda, The Dark Knight, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and the animated Monsters vs. Aliens. IMAX officials said they were also talking to sports teams about using the new digital projection systems for theatrical presentations of live sports events. Merriman Curhan Ford analyst Eric Wold told the newspaper, "The new [IMAX] theater pace will be huge over the next two years. And I predict them turning profitable in the fourth quarter and staying profitable ever after."

Brian B. at Movieweb
Brian B.