Hollywood Ink: Fox, Warners Race to $4 Billion Photo Finish


· Just when Warner Bros. was thought to have an insurmountable lead in the 2009 box-office sweepstakes -- having forecast a record $3.99 billion global haul by the close of business this weekend (which evidently counts among this year's receipts, go figure) -- Fox has darted along the inside with its own prediction of $4 billion for the year. The latter studio points to huge holiday grosses for Avatar and Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakuel as late revenue drivers; surely Warners can find $10 million of Blind Side revenue left under its couch cushions as college bowl games take off this weekend? Developing... [Variety]

MGM contemplates its suitors, Disney contemplates Marvel's B-list, and more Hollywood Ink after the jump.

· As per usual, you're likely to find "Sell studio" near the top of the New Year's resolutions nurtured by MGM's 140 creditors. Yet while bids are trickling in for review in the weeks ahead, MGM is no lock to be sold despite those lenders' sincerest hopes. If Vegas actually laid odds on takeovers of barely solvent Hollywood institutions, Time Warner would most likely be the favorite. [Variety]

· Also on the horizon: The discussion that overtook Marvel Studios after Iron Man's success in 2008 is the same one that will swallow the overextended comics brand as it settles in below the Disney umbrella next year: How do the world's most efficient, formidable marketers manage to make a franchise-ready hero out of Ant-Man? Or Dr. Strange? No, seriously, I'm asking. So is Disney. No reasonable suggestions declined. [THR]

· Oscar-nomination ballots were mailed Monday; they're due Jan. 23 and we'll know their beneficiaries on Feb. 2. [Variety]

· On the decidedly smaller comics tip, producers Gil Adler and Shane McCarthy have optioned the graphic novel Night & Fog for the screen. Set during WWII, the story concerns a mysterious fog that turns its victims into night-dwelling predators. The requisite Washington D.C. memorial tie-in will be awesome. [Variety]