SUNDAY AM: Today’s numbers show that Warner Bros’ The Dark Knight is the No. 1 movie in North America for the 3rd weekend in a row. All the Hollywood studios agree that the Batman mega-blockbuster’s Friday, Saturday and estimated Sunday total take of $43.8M bested the $42.4M opening weekend of Universal’s The Mummy 3: Tomb Of The Dragon Emperor which had finished in 1st place on Friday with $15.3M but decreased 4% Saturday to $14.7M. It’s called the threequel curse, but the Brendan Fraser actioner lost its mojo after a 7-year delay and terrible reviews to run well behind its hoped-for $50M. But the pic did well overseas, opening No. 1 in 26 of the 28 territories launched beginning Thursday for $59.5M for the weekend — 3 times what the previous versions did. In this country, exit polls showed Mummy 3 moviegoers were 44%/56% under vs over 25 years of age, 52%/48% male vs female. More than 93% had seen previous Mummy pics. The main reason given for choosing to see the film was the “action” (62%) and the “story” 49%. As for Dark Knight, its domestic gross of $17.4M on Saturday went up 38% from Friday’s $12.7M and down only 42% from a week ago. Meanwhile, Dark Knight is about to set another record for the fastest approach to $400M domestic with its cume now at $396M.

Sony’s holdover Will Ferrell comedy Step Brothers dropped only 47% from a week ago to finish #3 with a $16.3M weekend and $62.9M cume. That’s great for an R-rated comedy under mogul Judd Apatow’s banner. Universal’s 3-week-old Mamma Mia! was 4th with a $13.1M weekend and $88M cume. Warner Bros’ month-old Journey To The Center Of The Earth 3D came in No. 5 with $6.9M and a new cume of $73M. But Disney’s Kevin Costner starrer Swing Vote opened stillborn with an embarrassing $6.3M weekend, falling to 6th place after earning just $2M Friday and $2.6M Saturday. Hollywood saw this bomb coming. So why in the world make this pic with box office poison Kevin Costner? Well, Costner claimed to reporters he put up $20+ mil of his own money to finance it. Ouch!

At No. 7, Sony’s Hancock did another $5.2m this weekend and is now at $216M domestically and on its way to over $600M worldwide. In 8th place, Pixar/Disney’s Wall-E ended the weekend with $4.7M and surged over the $200M mark on Friday for a new cume of $204.2M now. For 9th, Fox’s X-Files 2: I Want To Believe fell 66% from last weekend to make $3.4M  for a sad cume of $17M. And, rounding out the Top 10, Starz/Fox’s Space Chimps earned $2.8M over the weekend for a $22M cume.

SATURDAY PM: It’s still neck-and-neck between The Mummy 3 and The Dark Knight. Both look like $42M-$44M for the weekend. Dark Knight is down only -35% from last Saturday. This could come down to Sunday’s take.

SATURDAY AM: North American box office numbers show that, despite a 7-year-absence and a locale switch fom Egypt to China, Universal’s The Mummy 3: Tomb Of The Dragon Emperor opened No. 1 with a sizeable $15.3 million Friday from an enormous release into 3,759 theaters. Obviously, the adventure pic’s good marketing campaign trumped dreadful reviews — only 27% positive among top critics. And while the Brendan Fraser starrer won’t hit the $50 million that the studio thought was possible, it could finish the weekend with a solid $43.6 million. (That’s even steven with the first Mummy weekend of $43.3M in 1999. But far less than the sequel The Mummy Returns’ opening of $68.1M in 2001. And let’s not forget that 2002 spin-off The Scorpion King‘s $36M.) As one analyst asked me about the $145M negative cost pic: “How many times can Uni go to the well and manage to pull it off? It’s certainly possible for it to lose its mojo.” (But not overseas. See below.)

That’s why Warner Bros thinks Mummy 3‘s Saturday will dip a lot and its own mega-blockbuster The Dark Knight could stay on top post-Sunday after earning $12.6 million Friday from its still record release into 4,366 venues. Even falling -46% from last weekend, the latest Batman installment will still take in $41 million gross this weekend from the U.S. and Canada combined. “But if Dark Knight is down less than 45% it could give Mummy a run for the money,” a rival studio exec told me. Of course, Warner Bros is sitting pretty while every day the Batman pic sets speed records on its fast approach to $400M cume.

Meanwhile, The Mummy 3 opened No. 1 in 26 of the 28 territories launched overseas beginning Thursday for an estimated $59M for the weekend — 3 times what the previous versions did — making it an instant global hit. The pic still has 38 territories to release including the U.K., France and Germany next weekend. In this country, as if NBC viewers weren’t bombarded enough about the August 8th start of the Beijing Summer Olympics, moviegoers to Universal’s pic were assailed by a series of co-branding theater ad spots promoting sister company NBC’s coverage.

Sony’s Will Ferrell holdover Step Brothers finished Friday #3 with $5 million, down 57%. It should end the weekend with a $15.5M weekend and new cume of $62M. Universal’s Mamma Mia! placed 4th on Friday with $3.8 million for probably another $12.5M Friday-Saturday-Sunday and new cume of $87.5M. Warner’s Journey To The Center Of The Earth 3D also starring Brendan Fraser continues doing business Friday with $1.8M. It should earn a $6.5M weekend and new cume of $73M — good enough for No. 5 by Sunday. That means Disney’s Swing Vote starring Kevin Costner which opened in the 5th spot Friday after making just $1.9 million from 2,213 theaters should drop to 6th place by weekend’s end with a humiliating $5.6 million.