MOVIE REVIEWS: TWILIGHT

The vampire flick Twilight may be critic proof -- hundreds of theaters will be posting "Sold Out" signs before it even opens at midnight tonight (Thursday) -- but that hasn't stopped many critics from sinking their fangs into it. One of them is Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times. "If there were no vampires in Twilight," he writes, "it would be a thin-blooded teenage romance, about two good-looking kids who want each other so much because they want each other so much." He gives the movie two and a half stars, but not without acknowledging, "But I understand who Twilight appeals to, and it sure will." Claudia Puig in USA Today makes the same acknowledgment: "Despite questionable casting, wooden acting, laughable dialogue and truly awful makeup, nothing is likely to stop young girls from swarming to this kitschy adaptation of Stephenie Meyer's popular novel," she writes. Rafer Guzman in Newsday predicts many future midnight shows for Twilight "with crowds repeating dialogue line for line. That would be fitting: Twilight already seems like a work of camp." Michael Phillips in the Chicago Tribune is kinder, calling it "a film of intelligent strengths and easily avoidable weaknesses." Michael O'Sullivan in the Washington Post observes that the film contains some "good stuff," and that while he has some "quibbles" about the film, "on the whole Twilight works as both love story and vampire story, thanks mainly to the performances of its principals." And Peter Hartlaub in the San Francisco Chronicle concludes: "Although you may not get sucked into the world of Twilight, after watching this movie, you will at least understand what all the fuss is about."

AFTER $40-MILLION INVESTMENT, CINEMANOW SELLS OUT FOR $3 MILLION

Demonstrating yet again the difficulty of competing with Apple's iTunes store and other prominent DVD sellers for downloadable entertainment, the nine-year-old Marina del Rey company CinemaNow, has been snatched up for just $3 million by Sonic Solutions, known principally for its DVD-burning software. Since it was founded in 1999 investors have reportedly poured more than $40 million into the Novato-based company. Sonic Solutions, which reported a $3.6 million net loss in its first quarter, a $3.7-million loss in its second quarter and recently advised that it expects a similar loss in its third quarter (despite laying off 100 employees in October), reportedly plans to promote a "download to burn" model for online delivery of CinemaNow's library of about 6,000 titles.

WGA CLAIMS MOVIE STUDIOS VIOLATING CONTRACT

The Writers Guild of America (WGA) said on Wednesday that it plans to file for arbitration against the major studios and networks, claiming that its members are not being paid residuals when their work is reused on the Internet. In a statement the union said that it is "embarking on an aggressive contract enforcement program" to force the studios to "make good on their obligations." The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers did not immediately respond to the WGA's complaint, which came on the eve of the AMPTP's first meeting with Screen Actors Guild negotiators with a federal mediator present. On Wednesday, the AMPTP wrapped up its meeting with the International Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers with both sides indicating that an accord had been reached similar to the one reached between the AMPTP and the WGA, the Directors Guild of America (DGA), and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA).

AUSTRALIAN ANIMATED FILM TO OPEN SUNDANCE

The Australian animated feature Mary and Max has been chosen to open the 25th Sundance Film Festival on January 15 in Park City, UT. The claymation film, narrated by Barry Humphries, better known as Dame Edna Everage, tells the story of an 8-year-old girl who lives near Melbourne and her pen pal Max, a 44-year-old man who lives in New York City. It is the creation of Adam Elliot and Melanie Coombs, who won the animation Oscar two years ago for their Harvie Krumpet, which also screened at Sundance