Moviegoers turned their backs on serious dramas -- particularly those based on current news -- and instead opted for vampires and comedies over the weekend. Although a record eight films opened over the weekend, only one earned more than $10 million -- Sony's vampire flick 30 Days of Night, which made it to the top with an estimated $16 million in ticket sales. In second place was last weekend's champ, Why Did I Get Married? with $12.1 million. In its third week, Disney's The Game Plan placed third with $8.1 million. Of the other new films, the Ben Affleck-directed Gone Baby Gone, which nabbed positive reviews for the actor-turned-director, fared best with $6 million. But Rendition, about a terrorist suspect arrested by the U.S. and sent to a foreign country to be tortured and questioned, grossed only $4.2 million. Commented today's (Monday) Wall Street Journal: "A glut of serious-minded Oscar contenders is crowding theaters with disastrous box-office results." And in an interview with the Associated Press, Paul Dergarabedian, head of Media By Numbers, added: ""Fall is the season of the serious movie, and it seems like audiences in a way are resisting the serious movie right now."

The top ten films for the weekend, according to studio estimates compiled by Media by Numbers:

1. 30 Days of Night, $16 million; 2. Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married?, $12.1 million; 3. The Game Plan, $8.1 million; 4.Michael Clayton, $7.1 million; 5. Gone Baby Gone, $6 million; 6.The Comebacks, $5.85 million; 7. We Own the Night, $5.5 million; 8. Tim Burton's the Nightmare Before Christmas,$5.1 million; 9. Rendition, $4.2 million; 10.The Heartbreak Kid, $3.9 million.


Tyler Perry, whose Why Did I Get Married?has grossed nearly $40 million over the past ten days, defying industry predictions, now intends to disprove the notion that movies with black-oriented themes can not do business abroad, the Los Angeles Timesobserved today (Monday). Charles King, Perry's agent at the William Morris Agency, told the newspaper that Perry plans to challenge the status quo. "In the past, the studios used to say that movies about blacks or starring blacks wouldn't play outside of the South," he said. "That was a battle that was fought and won." However, the Timesobserved, Lions Gate, which owns worldwide rights to Marriedhas revealed no plan for an international release. For that reason, Perry's production company is putting together an international strategy for its next film, Meet the Browns,due to be released domestically early next year.


Youth Without Youth,which marks Francis Ford Coppola's return to filmmaking after 10 years, received mixed critical reaction at the Rome Film Festival following its screening on Saturday. To those critics who urged Coppola to stick with doing what he does best, the director said at a news conference, "I think we should be tolerant of artists who want to break new ground, and not require them to make gangster films all their lives." Coppola also told reporters that his recent remarks about Al Pacino, Robert De Niro and Jack Nicholson were quoted out of context. (GQmagazine had published excerpts from an interview in which Coppola had reportedly said in effect that the three actors had become content to rake in riches and rest on their laurels.) "I have nothing but respect and admiration for them," he said at the Rome news conference. "These are the three greatest actors in the world today and they are my friends. So I have nothing but affection for them."


Negotiations between the Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers resumed today (Monday) following Friday's announcement that 90.3 percent of WGA members had voted to authorize a strike after the current contract expires on Oct. 31. However, WGA officials suggested that guild members were not likely to walk next week. "Writers do not want to strike, but they are resolute and prepared to take strong, united action to defend our interests," WGA West President Patric Verrone said in a statement. Nick Counter, president of the AMPTP, said, "We are not surprised with the outcome of this vote, given reports of how this election was conducted. Our focus is on negotiating a reasonable agreement with the WGA."