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SUNDAY AM: Warner Bros’ The Dark Knight is still smoking hot at the box office, winning its 4th straight weekend after taking in $26 million from 4,025 North American venues. The last film to do this was 2003’s Lord Of The Rings: Return Of The King. Sony’s stoner comedy Pineapple Express was in 2nd place with $22.4 million from 3,072 runs. The Batman installment’s win was fueled by Friday’s $7.5M and Saturday’s $10.3M (+37% gross compared to Friday’s), while the Judd Apatow/Seth Rogen laugher earned $7.9M Friday but fell -3% for Saturday’s $7.7M. The two pics fought for U.S. and Canadian supremacy all weekend, with Hollywood exec emails flying fast and furiously to me as Sony claimed victory for Friday while Warner Bros touted its better Saturday and weekend totals. The Chris Nolan-directed comic book caper starring Christian Bale and the late Heath Ledger Dark Knight has taken in a staggering $441.5 million domestic gross in less than a month and is now the 3rd highest grossing film of all-time for North America — and climbing. The incredible repeat business for Batman is mostly the work of fanboys who want their fave pic to keep setting movie records. But it’s still a long way behind Titanic‘s best-ever $600.7M.

As for the well-reviewed Pineapple Express, it was hampered at the box office by debuting on Wednesday (earning a surprisingly good $12.1 million) which cut into its opening weekend figures. And it’s also R-rated. Still, Sony was more than pleased with its 5-day debut of $40.4 million — especially considering the film’s negative cost is only $27M. “The executives at Sony are as high as the characters in the movie over the strong opening for the film,” one studio insider quipped. Exit polling showed the opening weekend audience was 58%/42% male-female.

It’s unclear what effect the Beijing Olympics will have on moviegoing for the next two weeks. Total box office looks to be down 17% from last year, but that may be due to two Wednesday openings rather than any Olympics impact. The No. 3 movie was Universal’s Mummy 3: Tomb Of The Dragon Emperor which did $16.1M from 3,780 plays, down 60% from its debut a week ago. Its new cume is $70.6M. Sisterhood Of The Traveling Pants 2 opened Wednesday and managed 4th place for Friday-through Sunday with $10.7M from 2,707 runs and a 5-day cume of $19.7M. Sony’s other R-rated comedy was No. 5, the Will Ferrell laugher Step Brothers made $8.9M this weekend for a new $80.9M cume.

Universal’s Mamma Mia! came in #6 with $8M this weekend and passing the $100M marker for a new cume of $104M. The 7th spot went to Warner Bros’s Journey To The Center Of The Earth 3D with a $4.8M weekend and new $81.7M cume. Sony’s Will Smith starrer Hancock was No. 8 with $3.3M for the weekend and a $221.7M new cume. The 9th spot went to Disney’s Swing Vote with a $3.1M weekend and paltry new cume of $12M. And, rounding out the Top 10, Pixar/Disney’s Wall-E amade $3M over the weekend for a new cume of $210.1M.

  1. ‘Pineapple Express’ Wins Friday: ‘Dark Knight’ Too Smoking Hot For Weekend
  2. Wed Opening: ‘Pineapple Express’ $12.1M