BOX OFFICE HOT; THEATERS AIR-CONDITIONED

Record high temperatures in several parts of the country were credited with helping to drive air-conditioning seekers into theaters over the Labor Day holiday. Final figures confirmed that the industry set records for both the three-day and the four-day period. The No. 1 film, Halloween, from MGM and the Weinstein Co., sold more tickets than any film ever released over the Labor Day period -- $30.6 million worth.

The top ten films over the four-day Labor Day weekend, according to final figures compiled by Media by Numbers (figures in parentheses represent total gross to date):

1 Halloween, MGM, $30,591,759, (New); 2. Superbad, Sony, $15,852,355, 3 Wks. ($92,687,150); 3. Balls of Fury, Focus Features, $14,111,454, (New); 4. The Bourne Ultimatum, Universal, $13,390,340, 5 Wks. ($202,810,455); 5. Rush Hour 3, New Line, $10,83,9063, 4 Wks. ($122,695,339); 6. Mr. Bean's Holiday, Universal, $7,933,690, 2 Wks. ($20,934,120); 7. The Nanny Diaries, MGM, $6,567,907, 2 Wks. ($16,719,283); 8. Death Sentence, 20th Century Fox, $5,337,257, (New); 9. War, Lions Gate, $5,326,797, 2 Wks. ($18,166,199); 10. Stardust, Paramount, $4,135,246, 4 Wks. ($32,144,100).

COLUMNIST WARNS HOLLYWOOD ON SEQUELS RELIANCE

Although the movie business chalked up a record $4 billion in revenue this past summer season, it may be facing a severe downturn next year if it continues to rely on hits of the past, New York Daily News entertainment writer David Hinckley commented today (Wednesday). Hinckley observed that $1.5 billion of the $4 billion total came from just five sequels: Spider-Man 3, Shrek the Third, the latest Pirates of the Caribbean, the latest Harry Potter , and The Bourne Ultimatum. "That's why Hollywood shrugs when those silly purists talk about "'fresh ideas," Hinckley wrote. "Since Hollywood made more money than ever with fewer original films than ever, what's the incentive to gamble on something untested? Just this: You can't make a 'threequel' in the future if you don't have an original today." Hinckley concluded: "You can eat the grain stored in your barn and it's an easy meal. If you stop planting the fields, future winters get tougher."

TORONTO FACING MOVIE PRODUCTION CRISIS

"We've actually seen a crisis develop in the film industry in Toronto," the co-chairman of the Toronto Film Board said Tuesday, citing a 42-percent plunge in production spending since 2003. Susan Murdoch told a meeting of the board's executive committee, "Our talent is leaving, going to other jurisdictions, particularly in Canada." She pointed out that Toronto used to account for 30 percent of all foreign film work in the country, but now accounts for just 9 percent. In a report, Toronto's film commissioner said that the movie industry in Toronto "is facing a crisis." The report showed Toronto-based productions falling 58 percent to $500 million last year from $1.2 billion in 2000. In an editorial, today's Toronto Star concluded: "Hopefully, some specific recommendations will arrive from the film board soon to save an industry that employs 25,000 people full-time and another 30,000 on a part-time basis. Over the coming days, as this city hosts the world at Toronto's annual international film festival, it is worth remembering the immense importance of making movies as well as watching them."

TRADE GROUP SEEKS HALT TO RUNAWAY PRODUCTION TO CANADA

The Hollywood trade group Film and Television Action Committee has filed a complaint with the U.S. Trade Representative, demanding an immediate examination of subsidy programs for the Canadian film industry. The group calls the programs "unfair trade practices." However, the Canadian TV actors union, ACTRA, maintains that the FTAC study is based on false premises. It also observed that Hollywood production companies have no interest in seeing Canadian tax incentives rolled back. ACTRA Executive Director Stephen Waddell told CBC News that U.S. movie producers "recognize filmmaking is a global business. Hollywood isn't the only place where you can make movies."

Cinemark Movie Club
Brian B.