i>RUSH HOUR TRAFFIC SLOWS A BIT

Traffic was fairly heavy but not all that heavy for Rush Hour 3, which opened over the weekend with an estimated $50.2 million -- much less than the $67.4 million its predecessor, Rush Hour 2, earned six years ago. New Line said it performed as expected. Last week's winner, The Bourne Supremacy lost about half its audience in its second week as it pulled in about $33.7 million, bringing its ten-day total to $132.3 million. It appears headed toward becoming the only summer "three-quel" besides Live Free or Die Hard to exceed its predecessor's total gross. Other new releases crapped out, with the all-star Stardust pulling in an estimated $9 million and Daddy Day Camp managing to bring in a dismal $3.6 million (versus $27.6 million for the original Daddy Day Care in its debut weekend). The werewolf film Skinwalkers, which opened in 737 theaters, had no bite whatsoever as it scraped up an estimated $565,000. Still, the weekend's total gross was about 37 percent higher than the comparable weekend a year ago. "We've been riding a wave of momentum that started with 'Transformers' in July," Media by Numbers President Paul Dergarabedian told the Associated Press. "We already stand at $3.6 billion at the box office. The $4 billion summer, once thought an impossibility, is definitely within reach."

The top ten films for the weekend, according to studio estimates compiled by Media by Numbers:

1. Rush Hour 3, 50.3 million; 2. The Bourne Ultimatum, $33.7 million; 3. The Simpsons Movie, $11.1 million; 4. Stardust, $9 million; 5. Underdog, $6.5 million; 6. Hairspray, $6.4 million; 7. I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, $5.9 million; 8. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, $5.4 million; 9. No Reservations, $3.9 million; 10. Daddy Day Camp, $3.6 million.

SIMPSONS HAS A COW IN THIRD WEEK

Overseas, The Simpsons Movie remained on top for the third weekend in a row as it took in $23.2 million to bring its foreign gross to $230 million and its worldwide total to $382 million. In second place was Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, which raked in another $21.1 million, bringing its overseas total to $550 million and its worldwide total to $822 million. It now ranks 15th on the list of all-time highest grossers. In France, the set-in-Paris Ratatouille remained the No. 1 film for the second week as it took in $9.3 million, down only 8 percent from the previous week.

DIRECTORS ON DIRECTORS

The New York Times on Sunday published lengthy tributes to two legendary directors by two legendary directors in their own right. In his article about Ingmar Bergman, who died last month at age 89, Woody Allen recalled Bergman as "a warm, amusing, joking character, insecure about his immense gifts, beguiled by the ladies." He wrote that he often talked to him by telephone, refusing invitations to visit because "I didn't relish flying on a small aircraft to some speck near Russia for what I envisioned as a lunch of yogurt." Allen wrote that on the day Bergman died, reporters who knew of his admiration for Bergman phoned, many of them asking how Bergman had influenced him. "He couldn't have influenced me, I said, he was a genius and I am not a genius and genius cannot be learned or its magic passed on." In a separate article, Martin Scorsese wrote about the death of Michelangelo Antonioni, at age 94. He said that Antonioni's L'Avventura "gave me one of the most profound shocks I've ever had at the movies. ... [It] changed my perception of cinema and the world around me and made both seem limitless." Scorsese said that he had "crossed paths" with Antonioni a number of times over the years, "but it was his images that I knew, much better than the man himself. Images that continue to haunt me, inspire me. To expand my sense of what it is to be alive in the world."

MOVIE GALLERY COULD CLOSE STORES

Movie Gallery, the country's second-largest video rental chain behind Blockbuster, may be in its death throes and could go belly-up on Tuesday when it is likely to disclose its inability to meet extended load obligations and creditors begin foreclosure proceedings, according to Home Media Retail magazine. The company operates 4,500 stores, including the Hollywood Video chain, which it acquired in 2005 for $1.1 billion. Michael Pachter, analyst with Wedbush Morgan Securities in Los Angeles, told Home Media: "They are not quite dead yet but they are definitely passed out."

Brian B.