FATTER-THAN-EXPECTED HOGS

Not only did the estimates for the biker comedy Wild Hogs exceed analysts' expectations when they came out on Sunday, but the final figures released on Monday exceeded the original estimates. The Disney film, which stars John Travolta, Martin Lawrence, William H. Macy and Tim Allen, hauled in $39.7 million, well above the 38 million that the studio had expected and nearly double the amount that box-office forecasters had predicted at the time the movie was released. Paramount's Zodiac opened in second place with $13.4 million, while Sony's Ghost Rider, which had held the top position during the prior two weeks, slid to third place with $11.6 million. The only other new film to open in wide release, Black Snake Moan, slithered in at eighth place with $4.1 million.

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. Wild Hogs, Disney, $39,699,023, (New); 2. Zodiac, Paramount, $13,395,610, (New); 3. Ghost Rider, Sony, $11,553,469, 3 Wks. ($94,810,845); 4. Bridge to Terabithia, Disney, $8,904,512, 3 Wks. ($58,207,144); 5. The Number 23, New Line, $6,486,304, 2 Wks. ($24,119,947); 6. Norbit, Paramount, $6,398,696, 4 Wks. ($82,905,396); 7. Music and Lyrics, Warner Bros., $4,888,337, 3 Wks. ($38,673,388); 8. Black Snake Moan, Paramount, $4,143,199, (New); 9. Reno 911!: Miami, 20th Century Fox, $3,942,926, 2 Wks. ($16,605,822); 10. Breach, Universal, $3,617,670, 3 Wks. ($25,556,015).

IGER TO NARROW DVD WINDOW

Disney CEO Robert Iger forecast Monday that the window between the time a movie is released in theaters and the time it is released on DVD will continue to shrink. However, he assured theater owners that he will work with them to assure that they will not be harmed by the earlier DVD release. Speaking to a Bear Stearns media conference in Palm Beach, FL, Iger also indicated that the company has seen no evidence that selling DVDs online cannibalizes sales in stores. In addition, he said that Disney's recently revamped website is streaming about 100 million videos per week, some of it user-generated. He suggested that Disney-owned ABC's America's Funniest Home Videos was the precursor to today's YouTube.

ANOTHER STUDY SHOWS LINK BETWEEN MOVIES AND TEEN SMOKING

Yet another study, this one conducted by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, has drawn a link between the decision of young people to smoke and what they see in the movies. The study indicated that white teens who had high exposure to R-rated films over a two year period had an almost three-fold higher rate of smoking than their peers who had little or no exposure to such films. (Curiously, the increase was not apparent among black teens.)

VARIETY PLUCKS TWO REPORTER EDITORS

Daily Variety has poached the editor of its rival, the Hollywood Reporter. Cynthia Littleton, who became the editor of the Reporter one year ago, will become deputy editor for news development at Variety. She will be joined at the trade publication by the Reporter's deputy film editor, Anne Thompson, who like Littleton is expected to push initiatives on Variety's website. In a statement appearing in Variety today, editor-in-chief Peter Bart said that the online edition of the trade publication "is developing a voice that is separate and distinctive from" the print publication and that Littleton and Thompson are expected to "play a pivotal role in nurturing this distinctive content." Meanwhile, L.A. Weekly columnist Nikki Finke reported on her website that the Reporter executives have told staff that they are "looking outside for 'a big, big,name'" to replace Littleton.

PREMIERE FOLDS

Premiere magazine, perhaps best known for its annual list of the entertainment industry's most powerful executives, will cease publication following the April issue, French publisher Hachette Filipacchi announced Monday. Over the past ten years its circulation had dropped 20.1 percent and its ad pages 24.7 percent. The publisher said it intends to continue the Internet version of the magazine.

FRENCH FILM MAGAZINE TO GO ONLINE -- IN ENGLISH

An English-language version of the redoubtable French film magazine Les Cahiers du Cinéma is scheduled to make its debut on the Internet this Friday at http://www.e-cahiersducinema.com. The influential magazine will be made available to online subscribers for about $50 a year, although single issues may be purchased for $5.00. Asked by Reuters whether something is likely to be lost in the translation of France's most illustrious critics into English, editor-in-chief Jean-Michel Frodon replied, "Our team of 18 translators is made up of people familiar with Les Cahiers' way of writing and thinking, and will make every effort to see that the English version is as faithful as possible to the original."

Brian B.