BOX-OFFICE BLAHS

Despite four new films opening wide over the weekend, the box office was down more than 10 percent from the same week last year. The top film, Lakeview Terrace, starring Samuel L. Jackson, collected an estimated $15.6 million. It pushed last week's winner, the Coen brothers' Burn After Reading to second place with $11.3 million. My Best Friend's Girl opened in third place with $8.3 million, followed by the animated Igor, which opened in fourth with $8 million. Ghost Town, starring Ricky Gervais, debuted in eighth place with $5.2 million.

The top ten films for the weekend, according to studio estimates compiled by Media by Numbers:

1. Lakeview Terrace, $15.6 million

2. Burn After Reading, $11.3 million

3. My Best Friend's Girl, $8.3 million

4. Igor, $8 million

5. Righteous Kill, $7.7 million

6. Tyler Perry's The Family That Preys, $7.5 million

7. The Women, $5.3 million

8. Ghost Town, $5.2 million

9. The Dark Knight, $3 million

10. The House Bunny, $2.8 million

MOVIE REVIEWS: MY BEST FRIEND'S GIRL

My Best Friend's Girl was not screened for critics prior to its release on Friday, and, it turns out, for good reason. They wound up panning it -- big time. "The movie spends a lot of time trying to be cute, vulgar and cutely vulgar. But it forgets about character, plot and believability," writes Rafter Guzmán in Newsday. Michael Ordoña begins his review in the Los Angeles Times by asking "Where does one begin to tell the story of how bad a film can be?" And Stephen Cole in the Toronto Globe & Mail dismisses it as "an ugly, strictly-for-meatheads comedy."

MOVIE REVIEWS: IGOR

The French animated movie Igor has received mostly positive reviews -- but they fall far short of raves. In Newsday, John Anderson writes: "Not all the jokes work, but most do, and the overall tenor of Igor is goofily funny -- probably a bit sophisticated for kids but certainly good-natured." Claudia Puig in USA Today awards it a middling 2 1/2 stars, writing: "This story of a world of mad scientists and their Igor lab assistants has some inspired lunacy as it spoofs classic horror films, though sometimes the jokes grow belabored." Some critics took their children to the screening and asked them to critic the movie. "My kid went with it," writes Michael Phillips in the Chicago Tribune, "and I had a fairly good time."

SPIELBERG CLIMBS DOWN THE MOUNTAIN

Paramount officially released Steven Spielberg and other DreamWorks executives from their contracts on Friday even as reports circulated that the studio had offered to finance Spielberg's Tintin, a movie that Universal had deemed too costly to produce and distribute. Commented Daily Variety: "The move served as a reminder to the departing Spielberg that the new DreamWorks will still be dependent on studio largesse when it comes to financing big-budget tentpoles." On Friday DreamWorks also announced that it had finalized a deal reportedly worth $500 million with India's Reliance in order to restart as an independent studio again. (According to reports, it will continue to be called DreamWorks.) It reportedly plans to borrow an additional $700 million.

BANGKOK FILM FESTIVAL YANKS JAPANESE FILM

For the second year in a row the Bangkok Film Festival has removed a film from its list of planned screenings because of political considerations. Japanese director Sakamoto Junji's Children of the Dark, about Thai children who are forced into prostitution and service the tourist trade and efforts by an NGO (non-governmental organization) and a Japanese journalist to rescue them, was pulled from the festival following objections from its main sponsor, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT). Last year, the festival pulled the animated Persepolis, about an Iranian girl's coming of age during the Islamic revolution, after receiving complaints from the Iranian Embassy. This year's festival is scheduled to open Tuesday with a screening of Woody Allen's Vicky Christina Barcelona.

"HARI PUTTAR" BEATS WARNER BROS.

An Indian court has thrown out a lawsuit filed by Warner Bros. against the producers of a Bollywood film titled Hari Puttar: A Comedy of Terrors. Mirchi Movies had argued that the film had no connection with the Harry Potter films, explaining that Hari is a popular Indian name and Puttar means "son." Warner Bros. had sought to block the release of the film, which is due to premiere in India on Friday.

Cinemark Movie Club
Brian B.