And lower and lower and …

While its lawyers haggle in court about copyright issues, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed continues its inevitable decline into theatrical obscurity. The anti-evolution “blockbuster” pulled in gross box office receipts this weekend of only $102,690, and the number of theaters carrying the flick is now down to 210.

The movie opened April 18 with a great deal of hullabaloo in 1,052 theaters and pulled in an impressive (for a schlockumentary) box office receipts of $2.97 million. Its receipts and theater count have dropped precipitously since then, despite the predictions of its creators that it would be a box-office smash.

Instead it will probably fade into DVD obscurity, once certain legal problems are resolved. Currently, the makers of the film are under a court order not to distribute the flick any further while a copyright infringement suit is settled.

Premise Media, the creator of the movie, licensed several songs, but failed to obtain permission from the copyright holders of John Lennon’s “Imagine.” A short section of the song is used as a foil to suggest that “Darwinism” inevitably leads to atheism.

Lennon’s family and publisher filed suit against Premise Media and its associates April 24 alleging copyright and trademark infringement, asking for at least $75,000 in damages and the immediate withdrawal of the movie in its present form from all theaters. A few days later, a federal judge issued a temporary restraining order preventing further distribution of Expelled, including DVD releases.

The Fair Use Project of Stanford Law School jumped into the fray, saying it would defend Premise Media and the other defendants, to defend their “fair use” and free speech rights. Hearings on the case are scheduled for today and tomorrow.

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