YOUTUBE IN TALKS TO RENT FULL-LENGTH MOVIES ONLINE

YouTube, by far the most popular video website, has been talking to several major movie studios about renting their films online, published reports said today (Thursday), citing people familiar with the talks. The studios are reportedly Lions Gate, Sony Pictures and Warner Bros. The films would reportedly be posted online using a system modeled after Apple's iTunes. The Wall Street Journal, which first reported the talks,indicated that YouTube plans to charge $3.99 for newer movies and about half that amount for older titles.

BAARIA RECEIVES WARM WELCOME AT VENICE

Giuseppe Tornatore's Baaria opened the 66th Venice Film Festival Wednesday -- and received generally smashing reviews -- not the least of which coming from Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. Berlusconi, who also heads the gigantic Italian media conglomerate Mediaset, called the movie a "masterpiece that all Italians should see." The epic drama also drew raves outside of Italy. In fact, Natasha Senjanovic, writing in The Hollywood Reporter, predicted that "the film should do even better internationally than domestically. Italians probably will find it too "picturesque," but it could resonate well with foreign viewers, who have come to associate this kind of warm, loud, family tale with Italian cinema." Xan Brooks, a critic for Britain's Guardian newspaper, wrote: "Tornatore throws everything at his canvas. Baaria gives us crowd scenes and bombing raids, boisterous comedy and high-blown tragedy. There's no faulting the director's ambition, even if you occasionally wish he would slow down, pace himself and maybe even jettison some of those epic set pieces."

PANASONIC TO SHOWCASE ITS 3D TV SETS

Japan's Matsushita Electric Corp, which manufactures television sets under the Panasonic brand, is taking its 3D plans on the road. The company said today (Thursday) that it plans to equip three custom-built, expandable tractor trailers with its Full HD 3D Home Theater systems for a tour of large retailers, trade shows, industry conferences, universities and athletic events. One of the first stops will be the CEDIA Expo in Atlanta, which opens September 9. The company said that it plans to keep the trucks on the road through March. In a statement, Bob Perry, executive vice president of Panasonic consumer electronics, remarked, "Through our Full HD 3D Home Theater Truck Tour, consumers will, for the first time, have a chance to experience the immersive world of Full HD 3D TV for themselves, and we have no doubt that they will love what they see." Meanwhile, 20th Century Fox announced Wednesday that it is waiting for upgraded 3D TV sets by Panasonic and Sony to hit the market before releasing titles in 3D. Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, now scheduled to hit video stores on Oct. 27, will not be available in 3D -- at least not until upgraded 3D TV sets become available. "Currently, the technology isn't where it needs to be to achieve optimal 3D viewing at home," Fox said in a statement.

BLOCKBUSTER SHARES UP 32 PERCENT

Shares of Blockbuster soared 32 percent Wednesday after it announced that it had reduced the amount of letters of credit to Viacom, its former owner, to $25 million from $75 million. It had previously cut the amount by $25 million from the original $100 million. It had previously announced that it had sold an Irish subsidiary, Extra-Vision Ltd., for $45 million to Ireland-based Birchhall Investments. (At midday today, Blockbuster shares had retreated 8.4 percent.)

TWO CRITICS MURDERED IN MANILA

Two Manila-based film journalists/critics who had achieved international stature were murdered in their home Tuesday by apparent robbers. Filipino-Canadian critic Alexis Tioseco was a regular contributor of the Philippine Star and the U.K. trade publication Screen International. His girlfriend, Nika Bohinc, a Slovenian freelance writer, was editor in chief of the film magazine Ekran from 2006-2008. They had met at the Rotterdam Film Festival in 2007.

Cinemark Movie Club