This will be the night when a pain in the neck trumps the destruction of the world. It's the night -- midnight, to be precise -- when The Twilight Saga: New Moondebuts in theaters -- all of which are likely to be sold out. Online ticket sellers have said that the Twilightsequel has set a record for presales. Box-office prognosticators have been predicting that the film should earn at least $85 million this weekend, with a few boldly prophesying that it will cross $100 million. Warner Bros. distribution chief Dan Fellman would only forecast "a really healthy opening." The original Twilightdebuted with $69.6 million on its way to a final gross of $191.5 million domestically.


Critics all seem to agree that The Twilight Saga: New Moondelivers what it is supposed to deliver -- in the words of Elizabeth Weitzman, in the New York Daily News, "swooning romance, PG-13 thrills, and enough sharp cheekbones and shirtless boys to carry any adolescent over to the next installment." Few of them even attempt to appraise the movie for its artistic quality, the apparent thinking being, "Why bother?" Hence, Kyle Smith's hilarious review in the New York Post, which begins:"Twilight, which was about a girl and a vampire who don't hook up, is totally different from The Twilight Saga: New Moon, which is about a girl, a vampire and a werewolf who don't hook up. And it's not at all like the next sequel, in which a girl, a vampire, a werewolf and a mummy fail to find romance, nor the one after that, in which the girl gets unfriended by all of the above plus the Invisible Man and King Kong -- yet finds her heart aflutter when she befriends the Bride of Frankenstein." And Mick LaSalle solves the critic's dilemma in assessing the movie by observing that it's really not a movie at all. "This is a pop culture phenomenon," he writes, "some weird early 21st century aberration, our equivalent of the hula hoop or dancing the Charleston on a biplane's wing. In the future, people will watch this second installment of "The Twilight Saga" and think, 'What was that?'" Clearly, there's not a teenage heart beating among any of the critics. Roger Ebert comments in the Chicago Sun-Timesthat the charisma of stars Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart "is by Madame Tussaud." (He has apparently not witnessed any of the teenage hysteria that accompanies their every move.) On the other hand, Roger Moore in the Orlando Sentinelconcludes that the sequel is "more polished" than the original, "and we get the sense that even though a guy directed it [unlike Twilight], he wants the mostly-female fanbase to revel in the overheated romance, the blood-enforced chastity and the sacrifices this toothy Romeo-and-Juliet tale serves up." And Peter Howell in the Toronto Star dishes out quite a bit of praise to the filmmakers: "They well serve an evolving and involving love saga that gives us a lot more to chew on than the typical teen romance," he writes.


Comic actor Will Ferrell has the dubious distinction of heading a new Forbesmagazine list of Hollywood's most overpaid stars. A top-ten list also includes (in order): Ewan McGregor, Billy Bob Thornton, Eddie Murphy, Ice Cube, Tom Cruise, Drew Barrymore, Leonardo DiCaprio, Samuel Jackson, and Jim Carrey. All of them, said the magazine on its website Wednesday, "cost more to hire than they appear to be worth at box offices." Ferrell ended up at the top of the list, it said, largely because of the flop Land of the Lost, a movie that cost about $100 million to produce, but which earned less than $65 million worldwide. Based on his estimated salary for each film, Forbesconcluded that for every dollar Ferrell was paid, his films earned an average of just $3.29.


The tabloid website TMZ, fast becoming the bane of Hollywood publicists, wasted no time Wednesday undercutting the news that Peoplemagazine had named Johnny Depp its "Sexiest Man Alive" for the second time. (He also won in 2003.) Just hours after Peoplesenior editor Kate Coyne announced the magazine's selection, saying that he had achieved an almost "iconic status in terms of sexiness," TMZ videotaped him emerging from a New York bar, looking dazed and unkempt and being supported by members of his entourage -- poles apart from his image as a sexy icon. "It seems the guy was really into celebrating his Sexiest Man Alive victory," TMZ wisecracked in a brief video caption.


Theater owners have made it plain that they intend to ignore a new study showing that the popcorn they sell at their concession stands is loaded with calories and saturated fat. The study, conducted for the Center for Science in the Public Interest, disclosed that a large popcorn at the AMC theater chain contains 1,030 calories and 57 grams of saturated fat. However, the study found that a large popcorn at Cinemark theaters, which uses canola oil, contains only 4 grams of saturated fat -- despite the fact that it contains one more cup of popcorn than AMC's. Responding to the study, the National Association of Theatre Owners said in a statement that after results of a similar study were released in 1994, "many cinema operators responded by offering patrons additional choices, such as air-popped popcorn. After very little time, movie patrons in droves made their voices heard - they wanted the traditional popcorn back. Many of our patrons enjoy the traditional taste and aroma of theater popcorn."