The president of the umbrella group representing movie and TV producers has denounced the decision by the Writers Guild of America to hold a strike-authorization vote. Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers President Nick Counter called the decision "reckless" and charged that negotiators for the guild "seem intent on striking without seriously addressing the AMPTP's proposals and with no regard for the devastating impact on their members, fellow unions and this industry." In their letter to 13,000 WGA members, Patric Verrone, president of the WGA West, and Michael Winship, his WGA East counterpart, portrayed the vote as a routine procedure. "This is a step that unions regularly take and that we have taken in the past, particularly in negotiations where fundamental issues regarding our future are on the table," they said. But in reporting on the guild's move, today's (Tuesday) Daily Variety commented that it "portends that negotiations -- set to resume Thursday -- will continue to follow a rocky course in the face of an Oct. 31 contract expiration as each side seeks to gain leverage through an exceptionally hostile public relations battle."


Disney's The Game Plan earned about a quarter of a million dollars more on Sunday than the studio thought it would and ended up with a total of $22.96 million for the weekend, according to final figures released Monday by Media by Numbers. The film had been expected to earn about half that amount. Coming in second was Universal's The Kingdom. It earned $17.14 million, right on target with analysts' expectations. (However, it had been expected to open at No. 1.) Last week's top film, Sony's Resident Evil: Extinction, dropped to third place with $8.04 million.


A final tally of overseas box-office results indicated Monday that The Bourne Ultimatum continued to rule as the No. 1 film. Preliminary results had put I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry in first place. But Bourne, which has held on to the top spot for six of the past seven weeks, was reported to have taken in $9.4 million, edging out Chuck, which took in $9.3 million.

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. The Game Plan, Disney, $22,950,971, (New); 2. The Kingdom, Universal, $17,135,055, (New); 3. Resident Evil: Extinction, Sony, $8,036,405, 2 Wks. ($36,826,411); 4. Good Luck Chuck, Lions Gate, $6,244,066, 2 Wks. ($23,513,142); 5. 3:10 to Yuma, Lions Gate, $4,208,366, 4 Wks. ($43,951,910); 6. The Brave One, Warner Bros., $3,719,285, 3 Wks. ($30,834,753); 7. Mr. Woodcock, New Line, $2,947,402, 3 Wks. ($19,578,594); 8. Eastern Promises, Focus Features, $2,938,847, 3 Wks. ($11,281,492); 9. Sydney White, Universal, $2,569,515, 2 Wks. ($8,449,395); 10. Across the Universe, Sony, $2,016,224, 3 Wks. ($5,476,433).


In another setback for high-definition video compatibility, it was reported Monday that the debut of Samsung's dual-format player (capable of playing either Blu-ray or HD DVD discs) has been postponed from this month to December. LG, another Korean consumer-electronics company, is the only firm currently manufacturing and marketing a dual-format player. But it currently costs less to buy two individual Blu-ray and HD DVD players than one LG high-definition video player. The reason for Samsung's decision was not officially announced.


Criticized by analysts for spreading itself too broadly over online entertainment businesses, Hollywood Media indicated Monday that it had ended a strategic review to determine the level of interest by other media companies in its holdings. The company, which despite its name is based in Boca Raton, FL, has long struggled to remain profitable, and the termination of the review appeared to indicate that it had been unsuccessful in unearthing potential buyers. It currently owns or holds substantial interests in several movie and theatrical ticketing businesses; the movie news and gossip site,; and a video-on-demand cable-TV network, Television. Shares in the company fell about 4 percent following the company's Monday announcement and had dropped another 1 percent, selling at $3.39 in midday trading today (Tuesday).

Cinemark Movie Club
Brian B.