BOX OFFICE REMAINS ON A TEAR

Box-office forecasters who bet the odds and predicted that the nearly two-month-long hot streak would end this weekend lost hopelessly when ticket sales ended up garnering a record not only for the President's Day weekend but for the entire month of February -- $190 million for three days and an estimated $223 million for four. Moreover, the top film, Friday the 13th, which was butchered by critics, earned an estimated $45.21 million -- the biggest gross for a slasher-flick premiere in history. Opening on Friday the 13th, the movie scored a $19.4-million haul on its first day -- more than what it reportedly cost to make. Two other new movies didn't make that much over the entire weekend. The female-oriented Confessions of a Shopaholic took in a modest $17.3 million and the banking thriller The International, just $10 million. But two holdovers performed solidly. Last week's romantic comedy He's Just Not That Into You captured second place with $23.4 million, to bring its two-week gross to $55.8 million. Both Friday and Into You were produced by Warner Bros., whose distribution chief, Dan Fellman, told the Associated Press, "It's (Friday) a great title, and it was a great weekend to open. We had Friday the 13th and Valentine's Day." Landing in third place was the action-adventure film Taken, which earned $19.3 million to bring its total to $77.99 million.

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

1. Friday the 13th, $45.2 million; 2. He's Just Not That Into You, $23.4 million; 3. Taken, $19.3 million; 4. Confessions of a Shopaholic, $17.3 million; 5. Coraline, $15.3 million; 6. Paul Blart: Mall Cop, $11.7 million; 7. The International, $10 million; 8. The Pink Panther 2, $9 million; 9. Slumdog Millionaire, $7.2 million; 10. Push, $6.9 million.

AND DON'T FORGET IMAX

Early today (Monday) box-office trackers Media by Numbers noted that Under the Sea, which was screened over the weekend on just 49 IMAX screens debuted with $857,000 -- amounting to a per-screen average of $17,490. "Whether it be the wide releases or smaller ones like this, IMAX continues to impress," Paul Dergarabedian, president of Media by Numbers, commented. "Often we fixate on the top of the box-office chart, but sometimes there is a lot of action for the films in fewer theatres that are making their mark."

BUTTON -- DARN GOOD OVERSEAS

Overseas, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button remained the top film at the box office for the second straight weekend as it took in $31 million in 50 countries. Fall-off from last weekend was relatively modest in most markets, Daily Variety observed, with the film off just 11 percent in Japan, 17 percent in France, and 21 percent in the U.K. The film's foreign gross has now reached $118.6 million.

PERUVIAN FILM WINS GOLDEN BEAR IN BERLIN

The dark, socially relevant Peruvian movie The Milk of Sorrow was awarded the Berlin Film Festival's top award, the Golden Bear, Sunday. The story is based on the belief that sorrow can infect mother's milk and that the emotion can be passed on to an infant. In the case of movie's lead character, her mother experienced sorrow when she was raped during a bloody civil war in Peru 20 years ago. Raising the Golden Bear trophy above her head, director Claudia Llosa told the awards ceremony, "This is for Peru. This is for our country." In a statement, the jury, headed by actress Tilda Swinton, said that the members had "decided to award prizes to those efforts which achieve a balance between the political statement and the poetic form." Another Latin American country picked up two other major awards. Uruguay tied for the Grand Jury Prize award for Gigante with Germany's Alle Anderen (Everyone Else) and also tied (with Poland's Sweet Rush) for the festival's Alfred Bauer Prize for innovative film making. The film's director, Adrian Biniez, from Argentina, received the award for best first feature film. Iranian director Asghar Farhadi's About Elly took the Silver Bear for best direction.

SAG PRESIDENT ROSENBERG LOSES ANOTHER LEGAL ROUND

Screen Actors Guild President Alan Rosenberg's latest effort to block resumption of negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers was blocked Friday when a three-judge appeals court turned down his request for a ruling to overturn a state court judge's refusal to issue a temporary restraining order. Rosenberg may pursue further legal challenges to the actions of the current board of the union, but the legal process is likely to be lengthy -- and costly. It is unclear who is paying the attorneys representing Rosenberg and board members Anne-Marie Johnson, Diane Ladd and Kent McCord, leaders of the Membership First faction within the union. Meanwhile, negotiations between SAG and the AMPTP are set to resume on Tuesday