CLOUDY WIN WASN'T IN FORECAST

The success of Sony/Columbia's Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs left box-office forecasters feeling like meatheads over the weekend as it took in $25.04 million to beat Disney's Surrogates, the movie that had been favored to win, but which wound up far behind with $14.90 million. According to final figures released on Monday, Meatballs dropped just 17 percent from its opening a week earlier -- "a totally amazing second weekend hold!" commented veteran box-office analyst Paul Dergarabedian. It was, he said, "unheard of for a film to open as big to hold this well." The average second-week drop is around 50 percent. Dergarabedian noted that The Informant!, another film that debuted the previous week, also had "another great hold," dropping 37 percent. Such a light drop, he observed, "indicates strong word-of-mouth for this critical favorite." The news was not good for struggling MGM, whose first movie of the year, Fame, wound up with just $10.01 million, to place third. Since the film reportedly cost just $18 million, it's not likely to lose money, but MGM is in desperate need of a hit in order to remain viable. Overture Films also struck out with Pandorum, which earned just $4.42 million. However, the company appeared to hit one out of the park with Michael Moore's Capitalism: A Love Story. Debuting in four theaters in New York and Los Angeles, the film pulled in $231,964 -- an average of $57,991 per theater. It moves into about 1,000 theaters next weekend.

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, $25,038,803, 2 Wks. ($60,474,555); 2. Surrogates, Disney, $14,902,692, (New); 3. Fame, MGM, $10,011,682, (New); 4. The Informant!, Warner Bros., $6,624,085, 2 Wks. ($20,700,946); 5. Tyler Perry's I Can Do Bad All By Myself, Lionsgate, $4,759,833, 3 Wks. ($44,552,477); 6. Pandorum, Overture, $4,424,126, (New); 7. Love Happens, Universal, $4,307,980, 2 Wks. ($14,708,710); 8. Jennifer's Body, 20th Century Fox, $3,664,559, 2 Wks. ($12,470,373); 9. 9, Focus, $2,959,231, 3 Wks. ($27,227,811); 10. Inglourious Basterds, Weinstein Co. $2,683,198, 6 Wks. ($114,420,733).

POLANSKI LAWYERS SEEK HIS RELEASE

Lawyers for Roman Polanski have filed a motion with the Swiss Criminal Court asking that he be released. Early today (Tuesday), the court said that it will issue a decision within the next few weeks. Herve Temime, Polanski's attorney, also said that the director plans to fight extradition to the U.S., a country that he fled 31 years ago after pleading guilty to having sex with a 13-year-old girl. Meanwhile, Los Angeles Times columnist Patrick Goldstein observed Monday that Polanski's arrest comes at a time when federal authorities are demanding that California release 40,000 inmates because of prison overcrowding. "You'd hope that L.A. County prosecutors had better things to do than cause an international furor by hounding a film director for a 32-year-old sex crime, especially one that Polanski's victim wants to put behind her." That furor continues to grow. As of early today more than 100 entertainment industry professionals from Europe, Asia and the U.S. had signed a petition asking that Polanski be released. Among the signers are the directors Pedro Almodóvar, Wong Kar Wai, Wim Wenders, Michael Mann, Woody Allen, David Lynch, Stephen Frears, Costa Gavras, Monica Bellucci and Martin Scorsese. In a letter to the editor of Britain's Independent newspaper, Harvey Weinstein said that he plans to help circulate the petition. Moreover, he said, "I'm not too shy to go and talk to the Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and to ask him once and for all to look at this."

WEINSTEINS LOSE BATTLE OVER PRECIOUS

The Weinstein Co. has lost round one of its battle with Lionsgate for distribution rights to the acclaimed independent film Precious. Harvey and Robert Weinstein claimed in a lawsuit that they already had a verbal agreement with the film's sales agent, John Sloss, when Lionsgate moved in and made a better offer. However, federal Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald has dismissed one of the Weinstein's suits against the film's producers, Smokewood Entertainment Group. In her ruling, the judge noted that no written contract between Smokewood and the Weinsteins was ever drawn up. "A signed writing is required to effectuate a transfer of copyright ownership," Buchwald wrote.

SONY INTRODUCING MOVIE SYSTEM FOR PLAYSTATION PORTABLE

Sony, the only media conglomerate that owns a movie studio and manufactures Blu-ray players and videogame devices, announced Monday that from now on the Blu-ray version of its movies will contain a digital file that can be transferred directly from a Blu-ray player to its PlayStation Portable game system. The digital copy cannot be played on other portable devices. The new discs will debut on Nov. 10, with the release of Godzilla and The Ugly Truth. In a statement, Rich Marty, head of new business development at Sony's home entertainment unit, said that the new discs will showcase "the unique advantage that the PlayStation 3 brings to the Blu-ray consumer."