BOX OFFICE SETS SUMMER RECORD
Thanks in large part to sales of premium-priced tickets for 3D screenings, the box office has set a summertime record, Daily Variety reported Tuesday. Through Sunday revenue for the summer had reached $4.17 billion, versus $4.16 billion for summer 2007, the previous record, the trade publication observed. Next weekend -- the Labor Day holiday -- is expected to add about $100 million more to the total, putting the summer tally 3 percent ahead of 2007. Total admissions, however, are reportedly down about 4 percent.
ITALIAN DRAMA OPENS VENICE FILM FESTIVAL
The Venice Film Festival -- "il nonno" of all film festivals -- opens late today (Wednesday) with the screening of Giuseppe Tornatore's Baaria, the first Italian film to open the festival in 20 years. Some 24 films will be competing for the festival's top Golden Lion award, which was won last year by the American film The Wrestler, starring Mickey Rourke. Among the American films participating in the competition is Michael Moore's latest acerbic documentary, Capitalism: A Love Story, and Tom Ford's A Single Man, starring Colin Firth and Julianne Moore. The film, which marks the famed fashion designer's directorial debut, is based on the Christopher Isherwood novel about a gay British professor mourning the death of his partner. The festival's jury is headed by director Ang Lee, who won the Golden Lion in 2005 for his Brokeback Mountain.
KIOSKS BECOME MAJOR U.S. RENTAL FORCE
While in Europe DVD rentals are down a whopping 11 percent this year and are expected to decline 6 percent annually over the next four years, they remain flat in the U.S. -- perhaps even slightly up -- thanks in great measure to the rise of $1-a-night video kiosks, according to the British trade publication Screen Digest. The publication's U.S. research arm, Adams Media Research (AMR), estimated that the kiosks, dominated by Redbox, will account for $830 million in rental spending in 2009 -- up 70 percent from 2008. AMR estimated that kiosk rental sales will grow by an average of 15 percent per year between now and 2013.