‘Inception’ Is Top Film With $62.8 Million in Sales

The science-fiction thriller “Inception” was the No. 1 movie at U.S. and Canadian theaters this weekend, taking in $62.8 million in ticket sales for Time Warner Inc.’s Warner Bros.

“Despicable Me,” from Universal Pictures, fell to second place with $32.8 million in its second weekend, researcher Hollywood.com Box-Office said yesterday in an e-mailed statement. Among other new films, “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” was third with $17.6 million, Hollywood.com said.

“Inception,” director Christopher Nolan’s first film since “The Dark Knight” was released in 2008, is the third first-place opening for Time Warner this year. Sales were helped by critical praise, getting a favorable evaluation from 156 of 187 reviews compiled on the fan site Rottentomatoes.com.

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‘Avatar’ back in theaters Aug. 27

Did you miss out on Avatar the first time around? Or do you want to see it again?

Twentieth Century Fox and director James Cameron will re-release the film on the big screen Avatar: Special Edition for a limited theatrical engagement starting Aug. 27.

This version of the film will be shown exclusively in 3D and 3D IMAX and will contain more than eight minutes of new footage, including new creatures and action scenes.

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New James Bond Film Goes From Stalled to Canceled

According to AICN, all development on the next James Bond film has been canceled as MGM continues to deal with its financial problems.

This news shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone who has been following MGM’s ongoing troubles. In April, we learned that production on the film was delayed indefinitely.

Still, just because we all saw it coming doesn’t make it sting any less. With Sam Mendes signed on to direct and a “shocking story” from the mind of screenwriter Peter Morgan (Frost/Nixon, The Queen), the latest Bond film was shaping up to be one of the franchise’s best. After the relative disappointment of Quantum of Solace, I was very excited to see how Daniel Craig would fare in his third outing as 007.

The bright side is that the Bond franchise as a whole isn’t going anywhere. It’s simply too popular (and too big of a moneymaker) to disappear completely. If someone swoops in to save MGM, we may yet have a Bond film in the near future. If not, then the franchise will end up somewhere else.

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Netflix adds to online movies with Relativity deal

Netflix and indie film producer Relativity Media today announced a deal that will see Relativity movies stream directly and exclusively to Netflix during the traditional ”pay TV window.” The first movies announced as covered in the deal are The Fighter, starring Christian Bale, Mark Wahlberg, and Amy Adams, distributed by Paramount Pictures; Skyline, co-directed by the Brothers Strause, released by Rogue Pictures and Universal Studios; Rogue Pictures’ Nicolas Cage action/thriller Season of the Witch; and Movie 43, written and directed by Peter Farley. All will release later this year and stream through Netflix shortly thereafter.

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‘Eclipse’ rises to $82.5M over holiday weekend

“The Twilight Saga: Eclipse” has risen to an $82.5 million haul over the long Fourth of July weekend and lifted its total to $175.3 million after just six days, according to studio estimates Monday.

The vampire romance from Summit Entertainment finished at No. 1 over the four-day weekend, despite a steep drop in its daily take after a $68.5 million start last Wednesday, the second biggest opening day ever.

“Movies that pop this big on opening day, it’s virtually impossible to keep up that breakneck pace,” said Paul Dergarabedian, box-office analyst for Hollywood.com. “We’ve seen this with a lot of movies where the first day is their biggest day, then it kind of settles into a more normal pattern.”

Coming in second for the weekend with $53.2 million from Friday to Monday was Paramount’s action fantasy “The Last Airbender,” pushing its total to $70.5 million since opening Thursday. The movie did strong business despite terrible reviews.

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Virtually unknown actor Andrew Garfield to star in new Spider-Man movie

It’s been a hotly debated question for months in entertainment circles: Who would inherit the Spider-Man suit from the departing Tobey Maguire?

Columbia Pictures ended the frenzied speculation Thursday, announcing that a virtually unknown actor — Andrew Garfield — has been cast as Peter Parker for the fourth Spider-Man film, which will be directed by Marc Webb beginning late this year.

On selecting the 26-year-old Garfield, Webb said in a news release: “Though his name may be new to many, those who know this young actor’s work understand his extraordinary talents. He has a rare combination of intelligence, wit, and humanity. Mark my words, you will love Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker.”

Garfield was seen last year in Terry Gilliam’s “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus”; his other work includes the upcoming David Fincher film “The Social Network.” In 2007, Variety named him one of its “10 Actors to Watch.”

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‘Toy Story 3’ Takes #1, ‘Jonah Hex’ Is Cursed At Box Office

Two Wild West heroes entered the box-office arena this weekend. Only one gunslinger made it out with victory to his name. That badge-wielding cowboy goes by the name of Woody, the pull-string action figure at the center of “Toy Story 3,” Pixar’s latest effort that easily outgunned “Jonah Hex.”

“Toy Story 3” emerged in first place this weekend with a fantastic $109 million haul, the best opening weekend ever for any Pixar film to date. “The Incredibles” held the previous record with $70.5 million. At the start of the weekend, some box-office analysts predicted that the third “Toy Story” installment could break the best opening weekend record for an animated film, though the latest adventure of Andy’s toys settled for the second best record behind “Shrek the Third” ($121.6 million).

In contrast to the “Toy Story” threequel’s massively successful opening performance was “Jonah Hex,” Warner Bros.’ adaptation of the DC Comics Western hero. Even with the involvement of high-profile actors like Josh Brolin and Megan Fox, “Jonah Hex” was unable to overcome harsh critical backlash and bad prerelease buzz, resulting in a dismal $5.1 million eighth-place finish.

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Short Film Pitches New Mortal Kombat

Baraka as a surgeon gone mad? Reptile as a survived harlequin baby with a taste for human flesh? Scorpion as the hero, and Jeri Ryan as Sonya Blade? The answers are all found in a short film that could lead to the next Mortal Kombat film.

According to Jeri Ryan’s Twitter page, the Mortal Kombat short is not a trailer for a movie in the works, but rather one made to sell the director’s vision for Mortal Kombat to Warner Bros. His vision is rated R, and is also kind of awesome. I mean, the ridiculous premise (all the world’s killers compete in a kung-fu tournament) doesn’t lend itself to such a serious treatment, but at least it’s fun and gritty and violent. This looks like a great midnight movie, or the sort of thing you watch on the Syfy channel on a lazy Saturday afternoon.

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Hulu plans to charge, expand to devices: sources

Free video website Hulu plans to soon begin charging customers and is looking to expand its content to consumer devices like the Xbox and iPad, according to two sources, as the site’s media owners experiment with platforms beyond an ad-supported TV model.

Those sources and another with knowledge of the matter said that Hulu, the website for TV viewing owned by News Corp, General Electric’s NBC Universal and Walt Disney Co, was developing a subscription service to be rolled out on multiple devices in the next month or two. It was not clear if that service would be offered before Hulu is available on devices.

One of those devices is expected to be Microsoft Corp’s Xbox, which also features Netflix Inc’s movie streaming service, one of the sources said on Tuesday. Another one of the sources said Hulu was also working to offer its service on Apple Inc’s iPad.

Hulu, which generated an estimated $100 million in advertising revenue last year, will continue to offer newer episodes of shows like Fox’s “Glee” free of charge, but it will also charge viewers a monthly fee to see older episodes and other content, two of the sources said.

Hulu and Microsoft declined to comment.

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Netflix for iPhone Is Coming, Subject to AT&T’s Data Caps

Apple and AT&T will let iPhone users watch movies rented from Netflix over AT&T’s 3G wireless data connections starting later this summer. But by doing so, they must  tap a finite resource: capped monthly data plans, which AT&T no longer sells in unlimited form.

Netflix and other iPhone apps require so much bandwidth that AT&T and/or Apple had to make a trade-off between restricting app features or restricting monthly bandwidth. It became even clearer during today’s announcement at WWDC in San Francisco that they’ve chosen the latter, having watched the viewing habits of Netflix-for-iPad users since April.

The upcoming Netflix iPhone app, slated for release later this summer, will let you stream movies from a Netflix account to Apple’s smartphone the same way it already streams to computers, television sets, iPads and supported smartphones, without losing your place if you switch screens. This time, you’ll be able to watch over the iPhone’s wireless 3G connection in addition to Wi-Fi, and movies have the potential to look particularly good on the new 4G iPhone’s higher-resolution display.

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