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A Few Surprise Disappointments from this Weekend’s Box Office….

Director John Moore, actor Bruce Willis and actor Jai Courtney attend the dedication and unveiling of a new soundstage mural celebrating 25 years of 'Die Hard' at Fox Studio Lot.
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Director John Moore, actor Bruce Willis and actor Jai Courtney attend the dedication and unveiling of a new soundstage mural celebrating 25 years of 'Die Hard' at Fox Studio Lot.

Time Warner was banking on a huge turnout for New Line’s ‘Nativity’ after Passion of the Christ … But lo, the bloodless Jesus story didn’t quite have the allure. (Would Passion have done as well if it had been rated PG?) And despite the Fox’s huge run, it isn’t in fact, infallible. 20th Century Fox debuted its new teen-oriented label, with its first release, Touristas, this weekend. Horror films are the most reliable genre EVER-teen boys always turn out for blood - but no luck this weekend, dragging home just about $3.5 million. I’d have thought that all of News Corp’s marketing muscle and MySpace cross-marketing savvy would have helped… Apparently the fact that Hispanics are the largest and fastest-growing minority group didn’t compensate for the fact that horror-loving teens probably want their titles in English.

While all of Silicon Valley has been in a tizzy about the YouTube-sparked acquisition frenzy, I’ve been wondering what Barry Diller has up his sleeve-and why he’s been sitting on the sidelines. Rumors that his internet conglomerate - InterActiveCorp - is desperate to buy Friendster? Sure they talked (I’m sure they talked to a lot of potential buyers)… but no, IAC’s not buying (from a reliable source) - especially at the sky-high price of late. Today it’s becoming clear that he’s counting on Ask.com - the search engine formerly known as AskJeeves.com. IAC is taking ask.com - local… We’ve all heard that local advertising is where the unexpected money is, so now AskCity will connect surfers with local business listings-and of course with content from his other sites-restaurant reviews from Citysearch, concert listings from Ticketmaster. Smart, especially for local advertising dollars… IF it works-and doesn’t all look like one big ad - it’ll help Ask.com steal traffic from the more popular search engines…

Little tidbit: seen on the same United flight from JFK to LAX yesterday - Kareem Abdul Jabar, sitting in First Class, and Topher Grace, sitting in COACH. I guess it’s nice that he’s not spending his ‘That 70s Show’ syndication ka-ching on over-priced business class… But I hope his four days of stubble was to prep for some role. He was looking scruffy. But Paramount doesn’t skimp on its business travel - anyone at the EVP or higher at Paramount gets an airport “minder” - someone (likely costing a pretty penny) to take him or her through security and meet him or her at the door upon arrival. Shareholders should be thrilled.

Questions? Comments? MediaMoney@cnbc.com

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  • Working from Los Angeles, Boorstin is CNBC's media and entertainment reporter and editor of CNBC.com's Media Money section.