i>KNIGHT AND MUMMY IN TIGHT RACE

Warner Bros.' The Dark Knight remained the No. 1 movie at the domestic box office for the third weekend in a row, taking in an estimated $43.8 million and edging out the debut of Universal's The Mummy 3: Tomb Of The Dragon Emperor, which took in $42.4 million. Mummy bested Knight on a per-theater basis, however, coming in with an average of $11,303 at 3,760 theaters versus $9,939 for Knight at 4,266 theaters. The results left Knight sitting on the edge of $400 million at $395 million after 17 days in release. Many analysts predicted the film could cross the magic number by today (Monday), it's 18th day in release, thereby setting yet another record. Previously the record for hitting $400 million in ticket sales in the shortest amount of time is held by last year's Shrek, which did it in 43 days. Many analysts have also begun predicting that the movie has a strong possibility of surpassing Titanic, which holds the record as the biggest earner of all time with $601 million. The only other film to open wide over the weekend was Kevin Costner's Swing Vote, which audiences voted down with just $6.3 million.

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

1. The Dark Knight, $43.8 million; 2. The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, $42.5 million; 3. Step Brothers, $16.3 million; 4. Mamma Mia!, $13.1 million; 5. Journey to the Center of the Earth, $6.9 million; 6. Swing Vote, $6.3 million; 7. Hancock, $5.2 million; 8. WALL-E, $4.7 million; 9. The X-Files: I Want to Believe, $3.4 million; 10. Space Chimps, $2.8 million.

BOX OFFICE MAY BE HEADING TO A RECORD

The strong box-office performance over the weekend moved year-to-date ticket sales ahead of last year's. According to Media by Numbers, theaters have taken in $5.933 billion this year versus $5.929 billion for the same period a year ago. The box-office hit a domestic sales record of $9.68 billion last year. Still ahead: the release of the James Bond and Harry Potter sequels, Quantum of Silence and Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, set for November. In an interview with Bloomberg News, Media by Numbers president Paul Dergarabedian commented, "I wouldn't underestimate the ability of this marketplace, given how strong The Dark Knight has been, to expand to a level that could beat last year's revenues.

PEOPLE GETS BRANGELINA PHOTOS

Reports began circulating Sunday that People magazine in the U.S. and Hello!, a celebrity magazine published in several countries -- and several languages -- abroad, together paid Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt $14 million for photos of their newborn twins, Vivienne Marcheline and Knox Leon. The couple has said the money will be donated to charity. Photos of the twins first appeared on People's website on Sunday, promoting the print edition of the magazine, which hit the stands today (Monday). People said Sunday that the $14-million fee was inaccurate but declined to say how much it had actually paid.

AFTER 16 YEARS ABBA ALBUM IS NO. 1 AGAIN IN UK

Thanks to the success of the movie version of Mama Mia!, a musical written around Swedish group ABBA's greatest hits, the 1992 album "ABBA Gold -- Greatest Hits" has risen to the top of the British album charts. Although it is not unprecedented for a CD that includes past hits to return to No. 1 on the British charts, Reuters observed that the current "achievement marked the first time an album had taken the number one spot after such a long interval." The original vinyl album sold 26 million copies worldwide.

Brian B.