i>SUPERBAD SUPER STRONG FOR SONY

The raunchy comedy Superbad turned out to be super good for Sony, which singled the movie out as a major reason for a 5 percent rise in its movie business in its second quarter. In an SEC filing, it also reported a profit of $23 million in its film division versus a loss of $133 million during last year's comparable quarter. The turnaround was accomplished despite fewer theatrical releases and the underperformance of the Beatles musical Across the Universe, the company said. Overall, Sony said that its total net profits for all divisions soared to $641 million during the quarter, largely due to high demand for its digital cameras, but were tempered by losses for its PlayStation 3 game devices, which, the company said, reflected "strategic pricing of PS3 at points lower than its production cost."

MOVIE GOING DIRECT TO ITUNES

For the first time, a major independently produced film is being released directly through iTunes. The New York Times reports that Edward Burns's Purple Violets, which has thus far failed to find a major distributor, can be purchased on the iTunes site in November only. The availability of the film, the Times noted, could help boost iTunes as an outlet for independent movies. Thus far, only Disney, has agreed to release its films on the iTunes website simultaneously with their release on DVD. Lionsgate, MGM and Paramount are also offering some older titles on the site.

FILMMAKERS BEING REPLACED BY GAMEMAKERS AT USC

The University of Southern California, whose film school once trained the likes of George Lucas, Robert Zemeckis, Ron Howard and Jon Landau, is now increasingly attracting would-be video game creators, the Los Angeles Times observed today (Thursday). The newspaper noted that, as part of their course work, students in a USC class in interactive media recently designed a game called "flOw," which has become one of the most downloaded games for Sony's PlayStation 3. Moreover, the Times noted, a game-testing system funded by video-game giant Electronic Arts was described by one instructor as a "higher-end setup than what is used in the industry." One student who had come to USC to major in film told the Times that he had now learned more about game history than film history. "Games are much more immersive than movies," he said. Another USC film school alumna added, "It seems like the game industry is developing much faster than the film industry now."

TRANSFORMERS TOPS DVD SALES

After establishing record opening-day sales for 2007, Paramount Home Entertainment's Transformers went on to sell 8.3 million copies during its first week, the highest of the year, according to Home Media magazine. Transformers also debuted at No. 1 on the rental chart, with revenue estimated at nearly $10 million. In addition, the movie was No. 1 on HD DVD. With the exception of Steven Spielberg's films, Paramount and DreamWorks movies are not released on Blu-ray.

HI DEF VIDEO BUYERS HAPPY WITH PLAYERS; BUT FEW BUY THEM

Nine out of ten buyers of Blu-ray or HD DVD players say they are extremely satisfied with their purchase and plan to replace up to a quarter of their existing DVD movies with high-definition discs, according to research from The NPD Group and reported Wednesday by Home Media magazine. On the other hand, the survey disclosed that the overwhelming majority of of consumers -- nearly two thirds -- said that they were unlikely to buy any HD player for the time being, while 23 percent said that they were somewhat likely to do so. Only 11 percent said that they were extremely likely to buy a player. Fifty-four percent said that they are waiting for the format war to be settled before buying an HD player.

THEATERS BEGIN BARRING CHILDREN

Some theater chains have begun barring children from theaters after 8:30 p.m. if they are not accompanied by their parents -- in hopes of attracting more adults who are put off by the disruptive behavior of some kids, according to USA Today. A spokeswoman for the Midwest chain Kerasotes Theaters said that it is testing "adult-friendly" screenings at 13 of its 95 locations. Marcus Majestic Cinema in Brookfield, WI, has gone further, serving alcoholic beverages and prepared entrees in its adults-only auditoriums and providing a babysitting service. "We want to create an entertainment destination and reach people who might not otherwise come to a movie theater," Marcus Theatres spokesman Carlo Petrick told the newspaper.

Cinemark Movie Club
Brian B.