TWO MORE MOVIES STRIKE OUT

Perplexing analysts who had predicted that the writers' strike would have little impact on movie making in its early stages and that TV alone would take the initial brunt, two more studios announced Monday that they have postponed production of features they were about to shoot. The films were Warner Bros.' Shantaram, starring Johnny Depp, and The Weinstein Co.'s Nine, starring Javier Bardem, Penélope Cruz, Sophia Loren and Marion Cotillard. Both studios said that the screenplays required additional work. Earlier, Sony's Columbia announced that it was delaying the Da Vinci Code prequel, Angels and Demons and United Artists said it was postponing Oliver Stone's Pinkville for the same reason. Meanwhile, both the film and TV businesses were bracing for the possibility that the writers' strike could shut down the Oscar awards in February. Syndicated gossip columnist Liz Smith asked today (Tuesday): "How can they hold the Oscars if there are no writers? No self-respecting, or self-protective, actor would cross the inevitable picket line -- not even to pick up an Oscar."

CIRQUE FLIPS OVER HOLLYWOOD

The Kodak Theater in Hollywood, which hosts the annual Oscar awards telecast, will become the permanent home for a movies-related Cirque du Soleil production costing $100 million, Cirque founder Guy Laliberté announced Monday. At a press conference Laliberté said that the show, currently untitled, will focus on Hollywood history. Three hundred sixty-eight performances are scheduled each year, to run from March through January. The production will take a hiatus in February for the Oscars.

BOX OFFICE: THE EYES HAVE IT

It might have been a dismal weekend at the box office had it not been for 3-D. Although 3-D theaters accounted for just 20 percent of the nearly 3200 theaters that screened the No. 1 film, Beowulf, they accounted for more than 40 percent of the film's gross of $27.5 million. "It just shows the potential of what 3D can be in the future," Paramount distribution chief Don Harris told The Hollywood Reporter. Other films made only so-so showings. The No. 2 film was the Jerry Seinfeld animated cartoon Bee Movie, which earned $14 million in its third week. Another family film, Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium, opened with a less-than-wondrous $9.6 million. The only other newcomer, Love in the Time of Cholera was DOA with just $1.9 million. There were a couple of bright spots on the list, however. The critically praised No Country for Old Men from the Coen Bros. earned $3.1 million despite widening its release to only 148 theaters. It placed seventh on the box-office list. And Universal's American Gangster became the first film of the fall to cross the $100-million mark in gross ticket sales.

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. Beowulf, Paramount, $27,515,871, (New); 2. Bee Movie, Paramount, $14,008,444, 3 Wks. ($93,570,695); 3. American Gangster, Universal, $12,875,250, 3 Wks. ($100,650,615); 4. Fred Claus, Warner Bros., $11,914,323, 2 Wks. ($35,712,980); 5. Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium, 20th Century Fox, $9,630,085, (New); 6. Dan in Real Life, Disney, $4,343,185, 4 Wks. ($36,931,806); 7. No Country for Old Men, Miramax, $3,075,722, (New); 8. Lions for Lambs, MGM, $2,896,594, 2 Wks. ($11,584,339); 9. Saw IV, Lions Gate, $2,248,805, 4 Wks. ($61,766,718); 10. Love in the Time of Cholera, New Line, $1,924,860, (New).

CHAN PLANNING TO PRODUCE U.S. FILMS IN CHINA

Jackie Chan disclosed Monday that he and his Rush Hour director Brett Ratner are setting up a Chinese-based film company that will make films for release to the American market. Writing in his blog, Chan said that the company has been named the Chan Ratner Company. "The whole idea of this company is for China and America to cooperate so I can make American films in China and Brett can act as my consultant," he said. The three Rush Hour movies have earned $507 million thus far.

Brian B.