box-office charts

TOP 10 UK

TOP 10 LONDON GROSSERS: Films

1. Men in Black

CRITIC'S CHOICE: Films

1. The Full Monty

CRITIC'S CHOICEPeter Conchie

1. Grosse Pointe

TOP 10 GROSSERS

1. Men in Black

ON FILM: TOP FILMS

TOP 10 GROSSERS

POP & JAZZ: THE CHARTS

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`Men in Black' sets box office record

The sci-fi action comedy Men In Black has broken British box office records in its opening weekend, makers Columbia Tristar claimed yesterday. The film starring Will Smith (left) and Tommy Lee Jones as men "protecting the Earth from the scum of the universe", took pounds 7,066,748 at the turnstiles up to Sunday night.

The man in black is laughing

Walter Parkes had spent the morning with his family at the Tower of London. "I introduced my five-year-old to the concept of beheading," he said with a grin as we sat in a room of his suite in a quiet hotel in Knightsbridge. It was an unintentionally apt remark, because as one of Hollywood's leading movie executives, the 46-year-old Parkes knows more than most that getting the chop is all part of the game. But at the moment he's flying high. He and his wife, Laurie MacDonald, were recently appointed as heads of the motion pic- tures division of DreamWorks, the company set up by Steven Spielberg, David Geffen and Jeffrey Katzenberg. More to the point, they also produced Men In Black, which opened in this country on Friday and will undoubtedly be this summer's blockbuster.

Cinema: It's an alien nation all right

Paranoia is last year's kick. The notion that sinister government agencies are in cahoots with aliens and have pirated their technology for state ends is such a widely touted theory that only Paul McKenna still considers it sexy. This is certainly a good thing. Area 51, Hangar 18 and assorted Roswelliana make seductive TV, but they also allow Americans to excuse themselves from taking responsibility for the governments they elect. If there is a smorgasbord of pickled alien DNA stored in the Pentagon, or if there are black-suited, Ray-Banned agents rubbing out Mulders and Scullies who know too much, then all political action is pointless. So drama about state sponsored UFO-abduction is more about comfort than terror: as for the idea that people get the governments they deserve, now that's terrifying.

Film: An alien act

Men in Black Barry Sonnenfeld (PG)

There's no business like UFO business

As The 4th of July holiday got under way this weekend, America was caught in a rush of alien fever. On Mars, Nasa successfully landed the Pathfinder probe, hoping for fresh evidence that the Red Planet could support life. Thousands of people jammed remote Roswell, New Mexico, for the 50th anniversary jamboree of the supposed crash landing of an alien craft. In Los Angeles, meanwhile, "Tony", a woman caller to one of the countless radio shows on UFOs, came up with a bizarre new twist by insisting that the US government was planting Hollywood science fiction films to soften us up for fresh revelations about extra-terrestrial life.

US storms back to the last frontier

Mars landing sparks patriotic new interest in space journeys, both real and slightly fictional

Words of the Week: The girl should be Grace but she is in Monaco being a Princess

Evan Hunter, aka Ed McBain, wrote the screenplay for the film `The Birds', starring Tippi Hedren, right. He discussed the movie - and Alfred Hitchcock - with Sheridan Morley, at the National Film Theatre

Cinemas enjoy blockbuster year

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