TOM SAWYER'S EYE IS ON THE SPARROW

The Walt Disney Co.'s Disneyland theme park, which already has altered its Pirates of the Caribbean ride to include Captain Jack Sparrow, modeled after Johnny Depp's character in the Pirates movies, may now do away with Tom Sawyer Island, one of the park's original attractions when it opened 50 years ago, and convert it into a second Pirates of the Caribbean-themed area, according to MiceAge.com, an unofficial website that focuses on the Disney theme parks. The site claims that the decision, "crafted in the corporate offices of Burbank rather than the [Walt Disney Imagineering] design studios of Glendale," is aimed at promoting the third Pirates movie due out next year. If a $28 million budget is approved, the website said, construction would begin this winter to rebuild and rebrand the attraction. Part of the transformation would involve creation of an "interactive pirate museum," replacing the current Fort Wilderness, according to MiceAge, which commented: "Of course, it's a given that diehard Disneyland fans will likely recoil in horror when they first hear about this idea. But what should be kept in mind is that this project would make a beloved old corner of Disneyland exciting and relevant again for a new generation of fans."

PRODUCER PREDICTS LIVELY OPENING FOR THE DEPARTED

The producer of Martin Scorsese's The Departed is predicting a huge box office take for the film when it opens next weekend. "I hope it's more than $30 [million], and anything above $40 [million] I'll be very happy," producer Graham King told New York Daily News columnist Lloyd Grove. He added, "We'll see; I mean with this cast? Everyone should go, right?" The cast includes Jack Nicholson, Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon and Mark Wahlberg, who have been getting outstanding pre-release reviews. David Ansen in Newsweek called the cast "a great ensemble" and concluded, "The Departed is Scorsese's most purely enjoyable movie in years. But it's not for the faint of heart. It's rude, bleak, violent and defiantly un-PC."

MURDOCH: THE SON MAY RISE AGAIN

Rupert Murdoch has suggested that eldest son Lachlan, who surprisingly quit News Corp as its COO a year ago, may soon return to the company. Murdoch told the London Financial Times that he spoke to his eldest son -- once regarded as his heir apparent -- "two or three times a week," and added: "Lachlan might come back." After quitting News Corp Lachlan returned with his family to Australia, where he recently purchased a stake in Quickflix, an Australian online DVD rental service modeled after America's Netflix.

Brian B. at Movieweb
Brian B.