CLOUDY HAS A SILVER LINING

During a time of year when the box office itself is ordinarily dreary, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs brought a ray of sunshine to theater owners as it collected $30.3 million and gave the overall box office a 14-percent lift over the comparable weekend a year ago. Other new releases, however, reverted to September form, especially the much-touted Jennifer's Body, which brought in just $6.9 million. Universal's Love Happens, starring Megan Fox,did moderately better business, earning $8.1 million, largely on the strength of its cast, which included Jennifer Aniston and Aaron Eckhart. Its reviews were generally atrocious. (Typical was Kyle Smith's in the New York Post, who remarked that the title obviously derives from a two-word phrase that begins with a different four-letter word. "Come to think of it," he commented, "that would have made a far more accurate label for this film.") The only new film that was not an outright flop was the Matt Damon starrer, The Informant!, which brought in $10.5 million. Meanwhile, Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds added another $3.8 million to its gross, which now stands at $110.1 million, putting it ahead of Tarantino' biggest previous hit, Pulp Fiction, in overall ticket sales.

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

1. Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, Sony, $30,304,648, (New); 2. The Informant!, Warner Bros., $10,464,314, (New); 3. Tyler Perry's I Can Do Bad All By Myself, Lionsgate, $9,877,436, 2 Wks. ($37,749,545); 4. Love Happens, Universal, $8,057,010, (New); 5. Jennifer's Body, 20th Century Fox, $6,868,397, (New); 6. 9, Focus, $5,563,134, 2 Wks. ($22,918,077); 7. Inglourious Basterds, Weinstein Co. $3,818,142, 5 Wks. ($110,116,807); 8. All About Steve, 20th Century Fox, $3,373,212, 3 Wks. ($26,651,633); 9. Sorority Row, Summit Ent. $2,499,758, 2 Wks. ($8,880,742); 10. The Final Destination, Warner Bros., $2,388,473, 4 Wks. ($62,405,206).

NETFLIX AWARDS $1 MILLION TO RESEARCHERS

Netflix has awarded a seven-member group of researchers its $1-million grand prize for creating an algorithm that improved its own user-generated movie recommendation system by at least 10 percent. In a statement, the company said that the group was led "by AT&T researchers" from the U.S. as well as researchers in Canada, Israel and Australia who had merged their efforts to submit their entry less than a half-hour before the competition ended in July. (The members also merged their names into "Bellkor's Pragmatic Chaos.") Netflix did not indicate what intellectual-property-rights claims, if any, AT&T might have on the system and/or the prize money. AT&T said in a statement that its BellKor team is made up of Bob Bell and Chris Volinsky, from the Statistics Research group in AT&T Labs, and Yehuda Koren, who recently left AT&T Labs for Yahoo! Research in Israel. The contest, which began in October 2006, included some 40,000 teams from 186 countries.

WORLDWIDE PREMIERE SET FOR JACKSON DOCUMENTARY

In a further effort to treat the release of the Michael Jackson This Is It movie as an event, Sony plans to present screenings on Oct. 27, a day ahead of the originally announced release, and beam coverage of the Los Angeles premiere to theaters in New York, Berlin, Johannesburg, London, Rio, and Seoul. Daily Variety reported today (Tuesday) that 15 simultaneous premiere events will take place worldwide but did not list remaining cities.