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B.O. Rebound, Spielberg's Stolen Art and More...

Box Office Rebound
This myth that Americans are forgoing movie theaters to watch films on their flatscreen TVs is just that - a myth. Today the MPAA unveiled statistics revealing that the US box office rebounded 5.5% in 2006 to $9.49 billion in box office revenues. And it's not just that ticket prices are going up, 1.45 million tickets sold in 2006, ending a three year decline in ticket sales. And the International box office is even stronger than domestic-- reaching an all-time high of $25.8 billion, up 11% from 2005. Countries like Russia are showing virtually exponential box office growth, one reason why the studios are investing more overseas.

Straight from the Thomas Crown Affair
You've got to love it when Hollywood folks become embroiled in Hollywood-style dramas. Spielberg himself has landed in a real-life Thomas Crown Affair. Like any good Hollywood mogul he owns some serious art, and it turns out that his Norman Rockwell "Russian Schoolroom" was stolen from a gallery in the St. Louis area. No, Spielberg isn't going to jail, he bought it in 1989 from a legit dealer. (Now it's estimated to be worth $700,000). The scandal was discovered when one of his staff spotted it on an FBI web site listing stolen works of art.

What I'm wondering is: what is a member of Spielberg's staff doing perusing the FBI website? Checking to make sure that none of the boss's work is stolen? If this story line were really worthy of the big screen, that staff member would have been looking for new goods about to hit the black market. Spielberg's a Rockwell collector - I wonder if he had suspicions about this?

Making Friends and Winning Votes

Antonella Barba
Antonella Barba

Ever heard of Antonella Barba? She's the most popular online search term. Even more popular than MySpace, showing a 1001% increase in traffic on the 'Lycos 50'. No, it's not because she has a great voice, there's a scandal about her nude photos, so I suppose this is a more sophisticated way of searching for online porn. Second to Antonella in search popularity is the "Lost Tomb of Jesus", which showed a 900% increase over last week, influenced by the James Cameron TV program. And Helen Mirren's experiencing some post-Oscar glow, coming in third on the list.

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.