i>THE PRESTIGE WORKS BOX-OFFICE MAGIC

Like the audience for the magic tricks depicted in the movie, nobody saw The Prestige's box-office victory coming. According to final figures released by Exhibitor Relations on Monday, the film, about a pair of rival magicians, finished in first place with $14.8 million. By contrast, Clint Eastwood's Flags of Our Fathers, which most analysts assumed would wind up in first place, wound up instead in third with $10.2 million. Martin Scorsese's The Departed remained in second place with $13.5 million. The family film Flicka opened in fifth place with $7.7 million, while Marie Antoinette, playing in fewer than half the number of theaters as its rivals, opened with $5.4 million.

The top ten films over the weekend, according to final figures compiled by Exhibitor Relations (figures in parentheses represent total gross to date):

1. The Prestige, Disney, ($14,801,808, (New); 2. The Departed, Warner Bros., $13,462,256, 3 Wks. ($76,935,185); 3. Flags of Our Fathers, Paramount, $10,245,190, (New); 4. Open Season, Sony, $8,162,729, 4 Wks. ($69,765,034); 5. Flicka, 20th Century Fox, $7,703,551, (New); 6. The Grudge 2, Sony, $7,652,791, 2 Wks. ($31,332,993); 7. Man of the Year, Universal, $6,935,515, 2 Wks. ($22,416,395); 8. Marie Antoinette, Sony, $5,361,050, (New); 9. The Marine, 20th Century Fox, $3,795,160, 2 Wks. ($12,617,834); 10. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning, New Line, $3,779,829, 3 Wks. ($35,888,968).

REDSTONE DEFENDS CRUISE OUSTER

Viacom Chairman Sumner Redstone indicated Monday that he has no regrets about his decision to cut his company's ties to Tom Cruise. Interviewed by former Disney chief Michael Eisner on Eisner's CNBC talk show Monday, Redstone, whose company owns Paramount Pictures, suggested that movie stars in general may be overvalued by the film industry. "I hoped I was saying goodbye to a type of business," Redstone told Eisner, referring to Paramount's break with Cruise's production company. "We were paying too much to the stars, and stars don't make a picture, the script does. We were paying too much and getting too little."

PARAMOUNT TO PROVIDE FILMS ONLINE THROUGH AOL

Paramount has become the fifth major studio to sign a deal with AOL Video, making its films available for online downloading from the site for $19.99 for newer films and $9.99 for older ones. Disney remains the only hold-out. It has a deal with Apple to make its films available for downloading at significantly lower prices on Apple's iTunes Music Store.

BLOOMBERG TO TRY NEW TACTIC IN DEALING WITH PIRATES

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg wants to use the same public nuisance laws that have been invoked to shut down buildings where knock-off handbags and designer dresses are being produced to shut down buildings where bootleg DVDs are being ripped. Saying that more than 40 percent of counterfeit DVD disks sold in the U.S. originate in New York, Bloomberg said, "Video piracy is not a victimless crime. ... It kills jobs for New Yorkers, and, like the counterfeit clothes and other items, it also is carried about by and supports criminal gangs. Now, we're going to start shutting them down."

DISNEY TO RELEASE A SLEW OF BLU-RAY MOVIES

There may be few units available in the stores to play them, but Disney's Buena Vista Home Entertainment has announced the release of a number of new high-definition Blu-ray Disc releases, including several in the double-layer 50 GB format, beginning Nov. 21. BVHE President Bob Chapek said that on Dec. 19, the company will release Invincible on conventional DVDs and on Blu-ray Discs at the same time. In a statement, Chapek said, "We have seen the future and it is here -- the digital age is upon us and Blu-ray is the format consumers have embraced for their entertainment choice."

Brian B.