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Blockbuster Season, Valenti, Baldwin & Newspapers

The Beginning of Blockbuster Season

Spider-Man 3
AP
Spider-Man 3

The beginning of the second quarter of 2007 had a slow start at the box office. The first five weeks of Q2 were down 7.2% from the same period a year ago. But this week, all of that will change with "Spider-Man 3" opening on a whopping 4,000 screens on Friday, starting with some midnight screenings Thursday night.

The theory these days in Hollywood is that the market expands, and that the more people go to movies, the more people watch trailers and get sold on other movies to see the next day. So, by that theory, "Lucky You," Time Warner's drama starring Drew Barrymore and Eric Bana should get a boost. Then the real floodwaters open; in the following two weeks "Shrek 3" and "Pirates 3" open. If they deliver as expected, the box office will be on that later this week...

Thoughts on Valenti

The former head of the MPAA and one of Hollywood's top lobbyists, Jack Valenti passed away

The Beginning of Blockbuster Season

Jack Valenti, former head of the Motion Picture Association of America
AP
Jack Valenti, former head of the Motion Picture Association of America

Thursday night at age 85. All of America knew Valenti for his snappy suits and funny speeches at the Academy Awards every year, but Hollywood studios knew him as their biggest ally. He was a well-connected lobbyist who pushed to protect Hollywood studios and media companies, but he may be best remembered for those abbreviations that precede movie trailers.

Valenti replaced the super-strict code that mandated that men and women never be seen sleeping in the same bed, with a voluntary system underwritten by the studios -- a standard emerged that seemed to be more lax on violence and stricter on sex with certain general policies (for instance, more than one F-word earns an "R"). These standards shaped greenlighting decisions and filmmakers' artistic choices, knowing that a PG-13 meant a much bigger potential audience than an R.

In the past year, Valenti's successor, Dan Glickman, has started making changes to make the ratings system more transparent, straightforward and fair to independent filmmakers. These changes are partly in response to a 2006 documentary called "This Film is Not Yet Rated," which attacks the MPAA ratings system for censoring independent filmmakers.

Just a month or so ago, I interviewed Valenti during a segment for NBC's "Weekend Today" about the American Medical Association lobbying the MPAA to implement stricter ratings for movies with smoking.

Baldwin Update

The Beginning of Blockbuster Season

Alec Baldwin
AP
Alec Baldwin

All the other "30 Rock" fans out there are buzzing about why Baldwin and CAA parted ways. The latest is that Alec fired his CAA agent, who was likely at the time working hard to minimize fallout from the released message. One thing's for sure, everyone I talk to seems alarmed that someone leaked out this tape. Among my media-watcher contacts, the consensus seems to be that the media invasion of celebrity lives has yet again, gone too far...

Newspaper News

Wherefore newspapers... Today, the LA Times announced its March circulation numbers, with total circulation on Sunday down 4.7% and a 4.2% decline on Monday through Friday. But the Times is now focusing more on average individually paid circulation -- which increased a tenth of a percent for Monday through Friday and dropped 3.6% on Sunday. The Times is the latest newspaper to announce disappointing results; the trend for print is downward, and the big hope is online distribution.

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.