In a clear sign of late-summer fatigue for the movie industry, box-office analysts are focusing on the possibility that "Signs" -- the Mel Gibson supernatural thriller now heading into its fourth week in release -- could prevent "XXX" from taking the No. 1 spot for a third straight time this weekend.
The major new releases -- "Serving Sara," a romantic comedy starring Elizabeth Hurley and Matthew Perry, "S1mone," a cyber-fi comedy starring Al Pacino, and "Undisputed," pitting Wesley Snipes against Ving Rhames in a prison boxing drama -- aren't being given much of a chance of taking the top spot.
"Serving Sara" is getting the widest release, playing in more than 2,100 theaters. "S1mone" only shows up at 1,920 theaters, but is clearly the leader in pre-release publicity. "Undisputed" will go to 1,100 theaters and is expected to draw well from a core audience made up mostly of young urban males.
It's not uncommon for weekend numbers to fade in the late stages of the summer movie season, but the U.S. box-office has been losing momentum for more than a month -- with lower grosses in each of the last five weekends, compared to the same weekends in 2001. Still, the box office overall is running about 13 percent ahead of last year's pace.
OSBOURNE WARNS FOX ON INTERVIEW
Lawyers for Ozzy Osbourne were threatening to sue the Fox News Channel if the organization went through with plans to show the second part of an interview on Friday, that Osbourne said was obtained under false pretenses.
In the interview, Osbourne talked about how tough it has been for him to deal with his wife-manager Sharon's struggle with colon cancer.
"It's like someone has taken my heart away," said Osbourne. "When I heard my wife had colon cancer, it was like somebody pushing a button on an atomic bomb in my head."
After Fox News commenced a promotional blitz for the interview earlier this week, Osbourne's lawyer wrote the network, advising them that he had only agreed to the interview for a program about the 25th anniversary of Elvis Presley's death.
The letter put Fox News on notice that Osbourne would seek "substantial" damages if the network went on with the broadcasts. Fox issued a statement saying the complaint was "without merit."
The New York Post reported that Osbourne's legal shot across Fox's bow might have something to do with competition between Fox and ABC. Citing a source, the paper said Ozzy Osbourne apparently forgot that Sharon Osbourne was supposed to talk to Barbara Walters next month.
Sharon Osbourne underwent surgery in July. She subsequently announced that the cancer had spread.
Morgan Freeman is set to co-star with Owen Wilson in "The Big Bounce," the upcoming movie version of Elmore Leonard's novel about a handyman who gets hooked up with a woman who gets a charge out of breaking the hearts of married men.
George Armitage ("Grosse Pointe Blank") is directing from a screenplay he wrote with Sebastian Gutierrez ("Mermaid Chronicles Part 1: She Creature," "Judas Kiss").
"The Big Bounce" was first adapted for the screen in 1969, starring Ryan O'Neal.
ACADEMY ARCHIVE GETS FUNDING
California has sold $35 million in revenue bonds to finance the renovation of a former TV facility in Hollywood, to serve as the new permanent home of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Film Archive.
The archive collection of more than 45,000 items includes feature films and shorts, as well as items from the personal collections of such filmmakers as Alfred Hitchcock, John Huston, Sam Peckinpah and Fred Zinnemann. It has director's cuts, films on filmmaking, screen tests, personal films and home movies.
Gov. Gray Davis issued a statement saying the bond issue on behalf of the project is worth the expense to taxpayers.
"California's film industry fosters widespread economic prosperity, generating $32.3 billion in revenues annually and sustaining nearly 300,000 jobs statewide," said Davis. "It is fitting that this financing will enable the Academy ... to permanently house many of the industry's finest works in Hollywood, the film capital of the world."
MOVIE AWARDS SEASON NOT OVER YET
The movie awards season seemed to have ended with the Academy Awards back in March, but some unfinished business remains.
The Flanders International Film Festival has announced its nominees for the annual World Soundtrack Awards in Ghent, Belgium, Oct. 19 -- and the list brings back memories of the last round of movie awards in Hollywood.
Hans Zimmer has the most nominations, four, for his work on "Black Hawk Down" and "Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron." Randy Newman has three nominations for his music for the Disney-Pixar animated hit "Monsters Inc."
Zimmer and Newman are both up for best soundtrack composer, for "Black Hawk Down" and "Monsters Inc.," respectively. The other nominees are Patrick Doyle ("Gosford Park"), James Horner ("A Beautiful Mind") and Howard Shore ("The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring"). Shore won the Oscar for best original score.
Zimmer, Newman and Shore were all nominated for best original soundtrack, along with Danny Elfman ("Spider-Man") and John Williams ("Star Wars: Episode II -- Attack of the Clones").
Zimmer and rocker Bryan Adams were nominated twice for best original song written for a film -- "Here I Am" and "This Is Where I Belong" from "Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron." Newman is nominated in the category for his Oscar-winning song "If I Didn't Have You" from "Monsters Inc." The fourth nomination went to Elliot Goldenthal, Richard Rudolf and Lara Fabian for "The Dream Within" from "Final Fantasy."
The festival will also present a concert of film music by George Fenton ("Dangerous Liaisons," "You've Got Mail") and the late Georges Delerue ("Jules et Jim").