In the latest demonstration of how little influence film critics are able to exert on the box office these days, the Will Smith starrer Hancockcollected an estimated $66 million over the three-day weekend despite an avalanche of negative reviews. In an interview with Bloomberg News, Paul Dergarabedian, president of Media by Numbers, said, "The Sony marketing machine and Will Smith's recognition transcend any [critical] barbs the movie might sustain." In a separate interview with the Associated Press, Dergarabedian called Smith "the most bankable star in the world." Since Hancock opened with two preview screenings on Tuesday, it has taken in $107.3 million. It earned an additional $78 million overseas. It marked Smith's eighth consecutive film to open in first place. Meanwhile, last weekend's champ, Disney/Pixar's WALL-E,slipped to second place with about $33.4 million (a drop of 47 percent), to bring its 10-day total to $128.1 million. Kit Kittredge: An American Girl,the only other film besides Hancockto open wide (it had played in New York and Los Angeles the previous two weeks), proved to be a disappointment, taking in only $3.6 million and winding up in eighth place.

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

1. Hancock, $66 million; 2. WALL-E, $33.4 million; 3. Wanted, $20.6 million; 4. Get Smart, $11.1 million; 5. Kung Fu Panda,$7.5 million; 6. The Incredible Hulk,$5 million; 7.Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, $3.9 million; 8. Kit Kittredge: An American Girl, $3.6 million; 9. Sex and the City,$2.3 million; 10. You Don't Mess With the Zohan, $2 million.


Further talks between the Screen Actors Guild and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers were in de facto recess while both sides awaited results of a ratification vote by members of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists on their own deal with the AMPTP. At the same time, SAG mounted a last-ditch ad campaign urging AFTRA members to vote down the deal. Meanwhile, the Hollywood Reporterreported today (Monday) that some SAG members are planning to challenge the validity of the AFTRA vote if, as expected, the contract is approved. One unnamed SAG member told the trade publication: "Only affected members should vote on the contract. ... Allowing broadcasters and disc jockeys to vote on it, that will be challenged." On the other hand, Robert De Niro became the latest prominent actor to voice his opposition to SAG's strategy. Appearing at a news conference at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival in the Czech Republic, De Niro said of the actors' stance, "I do not know if it is the right time to be doing this at all with the [U.S.] economy the way it is."


British film censors should take into account smoking scenes in movies when dispensing exhibition licenses, the British Medical Association said today (Monday). In a report, the BMA said that between 1950 and 1990, film portrayals of people smoking decreased but that the trend "has gone into reverse" over the past 20 years. The BMA called for laws requiring anti-smoking messages to be shown before every film in which smoking is portrayed positively. It also suggested that some films and TV shows include death scenes involving characters who have contracted smoking-related disease.


Stig Olin, who starred in six Ingmar Bergman films in the 1940s and '50s and went on to become a famous film director in his own right in the '50s and '60s before becoming a stage director, died on June 28 at age 87, Daily Varietyreported today (Monday). He was the father of famed Swedish actress Lena Olin.