Box Office Beat (EARLY!): Expected 20 Percent Drop due to Olympics, Dark Knight Holds Top Spot

Bad news for Hollywood: I’m hearing from studio sources that despite the huge interest in "The Dark Knight" and "Pineapple Express," the box office total is expected to drop 20 percent this week over last year because of viewer interest in the Olympics. Other news: In the neck and neck sweepstakes between the blockbuster thriller […]

Bad news for Hollywood: I’m hearing from studio sources that despite the huge interest in "The Dark Knight" and "Pineapple Express," the box office total is expected to drop 20 percent this week over last year because of viewer interest in the Olympics.

Other news: In the neck and neck sweepstakes between the blockbuster thriller and the stoner comedy, Warner Bros’ "The Dark Knight" is going to take the weekend with an estimated $25 million haul at the box office, according to estimates within the studios. That will beat out of Sony’s "Pineapple Express," which is doing strong business, but will not be able to beat the caped crusader, with an estimated $22 million.

If these estimates bear out through the weekend, it will mean that "The Dark Knight" will have dominated the Number One spot at the box office for four straight weeks. Don’t forget that it soared past the $400 million mark this week, and at this rate is expected to end up as the second biggest gross at the domestic box office in Hollywood history.

The Judd Apatow comedy – which has been greeted with great reviews and a Seth Rogen media love-a-thon the likes of which hasn’t been since…. Steve Carell! – already took in  $12 million on Wednesday, $6 million on Thursday, and at least that much on Friday.

Here are the other estimates: The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor – $15 million; Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 – $11 million; Step Brothers – $9 million; Mamma Mia – $8 million.