BATMAN IS ROBIN' THE BOX OFFICE

Although some industry analysts had contended that Warner Bros. had inflated its estimate of what The Dark Knight took in on Sunday so that it could claim a record weekend, the final box office result showed that the studio's estimate was actually conservative. The film grossed $158.3 million, some $3 million more than the studio's forecast, according to the final figures from box-office trackers Media by Numbers. Perhaps most impressive of all was the per-theater gross at IMAX venues -- an average of more than $67,000 each. (And that doesn't count profits from IMAX tickets that were scalped on eBay for upwards of $50 apiece.) At the same time, Mamma Mia, starring Meryl Street set a box-office record for the best domestic opening for a musical as it grossed $27.7 million, edging out the previous record holder, Hair Spray, which took in $27.5 million last year.The top ten films over the weekend, according to final figures compiled by Media by Numbers (figures in parentheses represent total gross to date):

1. The Dark Knight, Warner Bros., $158,411,483, (New); 2. Mamma Mia!, Universal, $27,751,240, (New); 3. Hancock, Sony, $14,040,178, 3 Wks. ($191,543,979); 4. Journey to the Center of the Earth, Warner Bros., $12,340,435, 2 Wks. ($43,504,712); 5. Hellboy 2: The Golden Army, Universal, $10,117,815, 2 Wks. ($56,526,885); 6. WALL-E, Disney, $10,070,396, 4 Wks. ($182,732,709); 7. Space Chimps, Fox, $7,181,374, (New); 8. Wanted, Universal, $5,072,805, 4 Wks. ($123,322,635); 9. Get Smart, Warner Bros., $4,125,021, 5 Wks. ($119,608,695); 10. Kung Fu Panda, Paramount, $1,860,854, 7 Wks. ($206,616,381).

REDSTONE HAS NICE WORDS FOR SPIELBERG, CRUISE

Viacom Chairman Sumner Redstone says that if Steven Spielberg and David Geffen leave Paramount at the end of the year, as reports have indicated, Viacom will continue to own all of the DreamWorks library. Moreover, Redstone said in a CNBC interview, "all of their work in progress belongs to us." So that if Spielberg wants to make any of those films, he'll have to make them for Viacom. "Spielberg will be making pictures using that product, which belongs to us, I believe for years to come," Redstone said. "We're all friends." Redstone also indicated that he's patching things up with Tom Cruise, who he suggested may not be happy trying to fulfill multiple jobs as an actor, producer, and the head of United Artists. Redstone booted Cruise off the Paramount lot two years ago as punishment for the actor's controversial behavior on the Oprah Winfrey program and his advocacy of Scientology on other programs while promoting Mission Impossible III. But Redstone now says, "I still like Tom. I still think he's a great actor. He had lunch with me. It's clear he wants to come back."

CRITICAL STUDY OF CRITICS ISSUED BY WOMEN'S GROUP

A new study by the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University is critical of the low number of women hired as film critics by U.S. newspapers. As reported by Editor & Publisher, the study found that men write 70 percent of film reviews and that among newspapers that publish movie reviews, 47 percent had no reviews written by female critics, writers or freelancers. On the other hand only 12 percent had none written by men. In a statement, AWFJ President Jennifer Merin said, "This important study shows in concrete and shocking terms that women -- more than 50 percent of the population -- are still being left out of a national discussion of sweeping cultural and financial significance."

ACTOR SAYS STARS SHOULD CONTRIBUTE TO ACTORS' EARNINGS

Actor Peter Coyote has suggested that stars who earn millions of dollars for their performances in movies ought to share the wealth with established character actors, who have seen their earnings rolled back as the stars' skyrocket. Coyote, best known for his role as the scientist trying to track down E.T., suggests that the Screen Actors Guild ought to call upon leading actors to kick back "a modest amount, say on salaries over $6 million," to lift the pay of actors they are working with -- if producers act similarly. Such a move, he wrote in an open letter to lead actors, "would provide the ancillary benefit of insuring that you consistently play opposite actors of the highest caliber." Coyote also added that "such a gesture would buttress your peers who cannot win such gains for themselves except by sabotaging the entire industry with a strike," which also prevents lead actors from working.

Brian B.