DVD SALES SPIN DOWN

Some of the biggest theatrical blockbusters of the year are producing disappointing results on DVD and could result in lower profits than last year for several studios, according to entertainment analyst Alan Gould of investment bank Natixis Bleichroeder. ContentAgenda.com quoted Gould as saying in a note to clients on Tuesday, "Given the strong summer at the box office, the industry was expecting very strong fourth quarter home video sales. ... However, the initial read on fourth quarter video releases has been somewhat disappointing." He noted in particular that Sony's Spider-Man 3, the year's biggest theatrical hit, will likely sell fewer than 5 million copies. In order to counter falling sales, some companies have reduced the prices of DVDs, Gould observed. But, he noted, the combination of lower prices and declining sales is likely to result in a $19 million, or 29 percent, reduction in profits for the average film.

SALES OF HD DVD PLAYERS SURGE

Thanks largely to Wal-Mart's Black Friday sale of HD DVD players for $99, there are now more than 750,000 of the high-definition DVD players in U.S. households, the North American HD DVD Promotional Group announced Tuesday. The total number includes add-ons to Microsoft's Xbox 360 game players. In a statement, Ken Graffeo, head of strategic market for Universal Studios Home Entertainment and co-president of the HD DVD Promotional Group, said, "With more than four weeks left for holiday shopping, HD DVD is turning out to be the perfect consumer electronics gift."

OVERSEAS COMPETITION BETWEEN ENCHANTED AND BEOWULF REVS UP

Disney's <Enchanted and Warner Bros.' Beowulf have begun a neck-and-neck competition at the overseas box office, Daily Variety reported today (Wednesday). The trade publication noted that over the weekend Beowulf was the winner over Enchanted in Russia, while Enchanted edged out Beowulf in Spain. However, one unnamed exhibition executive told the trade publication that while results in each of the countries were "O.K," they were unimpressive. "Disney hasn't got a huge Christmas hit on in its hands in Spain, and Beowulf, as its U.S. bow suggested, isn't a 300," the executive observed.

FOX SEARCHLIGHT LEADS INDIE SPIRIT AWARDS NODS

Fox Searchlight received 11 nominations to lead all other independent film production companies contending for honors at the Independent Spirit Awards to be held on February 23rd. Its Juno was nominated for best feature, director (Jason Reitman), actress (Ellen Page), and first screenplay (Diablo Cody). The Bob Dylan-based drama I'm Not There also received nominations for best director (Todd Haynes), supporting actress (Cate Blanchett); and supporting actor (Marcus Carl Franklin). The movie was also chosen to receive the first Robert Altman Award. Paramount Vantage, Miramax, Focus Features and The Weinstein Co each netted five nominations. Other films competing in the best feature category are The Diving Bell and the Butterfly and Paranoid Park from Miramax; I'm Not There from the Weinstein Co.; and A Mighty Heart from Paramount Vantage. None of the films was a box office hit, and analysts say that none is likely to contend for an Oscar.

ITALIAN DIRECTOR FRANCESCO ROSI TO BE HONORED IN BERLIN

The 58th Berlin International Film Festival will present its Golden Bear for Lifetime Achievement to 85-year-old Italian writer-director Francesco Rosi, the festival announced Tuesday. In a statement, Berlinale Director Dieter Kosslick commented, "With their explosive power, Rosi's films are still persuasive today. His works are classics of politically engaged cinema." The award to Rosi will take place on February 14 as part of the festival's Homage section at which 13 of Rosi's films will be screened, including his 1961 feature Salvatore Giuliano, which won the Berlinale's Silver Bear award in 1962.

Cinemark Movie Club
Brian B.