Entourage Decoder

6/19/2006 3:25 PM PDT

Entourage Decoder

Vinny and the boys may have been slumming it out in the land of strip malls and cul-de-sacs on last night's episode of "Entourage," but there was still plenty of Tinseltown meta-reality for TMZ to check up on – "Aquaman"s big box-office splash, Johnny's Valley-hating, and how much four Ducati bikes would really cost.

ART: Ari and Eric obsess all day about the opening weekend gross for "Aquaman," which they hope tops $95 million at first and then, later, the all-time record, the first "Spider-Man"'s $114,844,116. How closely does their stressful day resemble the first day of a blockbuster's debut?

LIFE: According to Paul Dergarabedian, president of Exhibitor Relations, and a veteran box-office analyst, it's very close. "I was very impressed with the way it went down," says Degarabedian. "They really captured the way the information flows on opening day." He had one minor quibble: it might be "a little bit of a stretch" to extrapolate the entire weekend's gross based on incomplete information on the first day, but, he says, "once you have a Friday number, you can estimate pretty well."

Brandon Gray of Box Office Mojo points out, however, that "X-Men 3: The Last Stand" actually did better than "Spider-Man" on its first Friday, but fell far short of the webcrawler flick in its three-day total. And as for Ari's and Eric's kvetching all day about rolling blackouts having a significant effect on the gross, Degarabedian says that it was much ado about nothing: "Events like that on a regional basis won't knock $20 million off the box office."

In a strange instance of life imitating art imitating life (still with us?), a two-page ad inside the front cover of this morning's daily Variety trumpets the "Biggest Box Office Splash In History! $116,844,114, First 3 Days and Still Swimming" for "Aquaman," starring Vincent Chase. You might notice that the exact figure is a clever little inversion of "Spider-Man"'s digits. And a quick check of the "crew" listed at the bottom of the ad yields noone who's actually worked in films, except of course the director, James Cameron.

ART: Vincent promises to buy his posse "somethin' sick" if "Aquaman" tops "Spider-Man" at the box office. "Somethin' sick" turns out to be a new Ducati motorcycle for each his pals. How much would Vince really have shelled out for the tomato-red Italian bikes?

LIFE: According to the website of Pro Italia, the motorcycle specialists whose Glendale, Calif. store was the actual location for the bike-shopping scene in last night's show, the 999 Testastretta, the top-of-the-line Ducati, goes for a molto espensivo $32,995; four of them would go for about $132,000. Then again, that's just a little less than "Aquaman," with its $116 million weekend take, would have made in about 5 minutes.

ART: Johnny Drama drops some choice one-liners about "the Valley" when the guys decide to see "Aquaman" out in Northridge. He says that "north of Ventura Boulevard" is otherwise known as "Hell's waiting room" and that he only goes to the Valley to dine on "Sushi Row." What's so bad about north of Ventura Boulevard and what's Sushi Row?

LIFE: Ventura Boulevard is the main east-west thoroughfare in the San Fernando Valley, which is best known to most of America for cultivating "Valley girls," its thriving adult film industry, and a preponderance of identical tract housing and strip malls (think 80s Spielberg, like "E.T."), and which tends to be sniffed at by its Los Angeles neighbors to the south. Real estate agents refer to the houses in more affluent communities like Calabasas and Hidden Hills as "south of Ventura," whereas north of Ventura – known as "The Flats" – is considered somewhat déclassé. The east end of Ventura is lined with some of the best sushi joints in LA (and, hence, the country), including Sushi Nozawa and Sushi Katsu-ya.

Interestingly, the movie theater that Vince slips into to watch himself on screen isn't even in the Northridge location that Drama complains about with such vehemence: It's actually in Sherman Oaks, about 10 miles to the south, and generally a fair bit less steamy, climate-wise, than Northridge.