WRITERS' STRIKE AVERTED?

Raising legitimate hopes for the first time that a strike by the Writers Guild of America against Hollywood film and TV studios could be averted before the expiration of the current WGA contract on October 31, the producers on Tuesday withdrew a proposal that would have delayed payment of residuals to writers until the costs of production, distribution and marketing were recouped. Nick Counter, president of the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers, said that the group was withdrawing the proposal "in the overriding interest of keeping the industry working and removing what has become an emotional impediment and excuse by the WGA not to bargain." The WGA issued a terse response, stating that it hoped that the withdrawal of the recoupment proposal "means the companies are ready to begin serious negotiations."

DISNEY ERECTING REPLICA OF HISTORIC THEATER IN ANAHEIM

Disney on Tuesday announced a $1.1-billion redo of its California Adventure park adjacent to Disneyland, whose centerpiece, it indicated, will be a replica of the Carthay Circle Theater, where many of Disney's animated features, including its first, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, were originally screened. The theater was built in 1926 and featured a vast courtyard, making it ideal for crowded premieres. In 1969 it was demolished and replaced by an office complex. Today's (Wednesday) Wall Street Journal said the revamped California Adventure will be expanded by about 12 acres and include attractions associated with Pixar movies that have previously been given short shrift at Disneyland.

VIACOM WON'T WITHDRAW LAWSUIT AGAINST GOOGLE'S YOUTUBE

Viacom said Tuesday that Google's announcement that it will install a filtering system aimed at preventing copyrighted movies and TV shows from being posted on its YouTube website will not cause the media giant to withdraw its $1-billion lawsuit against Google. "It doesn't have any impact," Viacom spokesman Jeremy Zweig told today's (Wednesday) Los Angeles Times. "Or at least it's very premature to try and figure out the impact it could have on the litigation." He pointed out that the new technology has no effect on alleged past damages suffered by Viacom as a result of illegal postings. "And we don't even know if the technology works yet."

DID HALO 3 HIT BOX OFFICE SALES?

Some industry analysts are blaming the release of the videogame Halo 3 for the current dive in movie ticket sales. Advertising Age has observed that over the Oct. 5 weekend, after Halo 3 had sold $300 million worth of copies, the box office was down 27 percent below the same weekend last year -- the worst performance for an October weekend since 1999. Over the same weekend, The Heartbreak Kid, which some box-office gurus had predicted would make up to $30 million, brought in only $14 million. "The audience on this game is the 18-to-34 demographic, similar to what you'd see in cinemas," Mike Hickey, an analyst at Denver research firm Janco Partners, told AdAge, adding that the box-office slide "could last for several weeks."

RATATOUILLE HAS A DELICIOUS OPENING IN U.K.

British moviegoers feasted on Ratatouille over the weekend, shelling out $9 million in ticket purchases at 503 theaters, or a whopping $18,000 per theater. The Disney/Pixar film also performed strongly in its second week in Germany, where it took in $6.5 million. ShowbizData.com now puts the film's worldwide gross at $466.4 million of which $206.9 million was recorded domestically.

Brian B. at Movieweb
Brian B.