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'Brangelina' Clue Sought in 'Mr. & Mrs. Smith'

Brad Pitt (search) and Angelina Jolie (search) — are they or aren't they?

We still don't know the answer, but the question alone is likely to draw people into theaters this weekend to see their new movie, "Mr. and Mrs. Smith." (search)

The stars themselves seem to show little interest in the rumors. Pitt told FOX News that he doesn't think the gossip will "help" the movie.

"Can it be good for us, the speculations and the making up the stories? In the end it can't be good," said Pitt, who recently said that people should focus more on poverty and AIDS in Africa than his love life. "I've avoided a lot of it, so I don't partake in it so much."

Jolie told FOX News she is simply "not aware" of a lot of the buzz.

"I don't read a lot of those magazines ... I'm aware of some things, but I tend to avoid it. The pieces I've heard, it's just funny," she said.

But experts say the rumors will help fan the movie's flames.

"Of course it will — I think that goes without saying," B.J. Sigesmund, movie editor at US Weekly, told FOXNews.com. "These are two sexy people who draw fans on their own, let alone surrounded by rumors that they are currently dating and rumors that she may have stolen him from Jennifer Aniston (search)."

The movie, which opens Friday, is about husband-and-wife assassins who are clueless about each other's occupation — until each is hired to kill the other. It is directed by Doug Liman, the man behind "Swingers" and "The Bourne Identity."

While the movie on its own isn't particularly strong, the chemistry is piping hot, and the rumors will push it to No. 1 at the box office this weekend, Sigesmund said.

"There are a lot of questions about what went on during filming — people want to see for themselves," he said. "I do think it will make between $30 and $40 million this weekend and be No. 1 at the box office."

Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracker Exhibitor Relations Co., told FOXNews.com he thinks the movie will do very well — and not so much because of the rumors.

"It's gotten good reviews — ultimately, it's about the movie. If the movie is good, people will go see it. People are paying $10 to see a movie, not to read a tabloid," he said, adding that the romance rumors will certainly draw viewers who want to see if there is chemistry between the stars.

Dergarabedian added that in some cases, such publicity can actually hurt a movie.

"In a way it's a PR nightmare — sometimes [stars'] personal lives overshadow the movie and can take away from the film. You run the risk of alienating people, and causing a backlash if people get tired of hearing about the stars and their personal lives."

However, the fact that "Smith" is supposed to be good will save it, Dergarabedian said.

"'Gigli' [starring then-hot couple Ben Affleck (search) and Jennifer Lopez (search)] is a movie that was just not great — people didn't show up. I think in this case people will go. Men want to see it because it's an action movie, and certainly Angelina helps. Women want to see Brad and to check out the alleged relationship.

"The chemistry is supposed to be sizzling, it's an action movie, it's a date movie, it's a romantic comedy, it has everything going for it. It will actually deliver on what it promises," Dergarabedian added.

Indeed, at a recent screening of the movie in New York City, viewers were taken by the chemistry between the stars.

"You could tell how passionate they were," Carissa Rosenberg, entertainment editor at Seventeen magazine, told the New York Post's Russell Scott Smith.

"I loved the look on Angelina's face," Roberta Caploe, executive editor of Ladies Home Journal, told the Post. "She would look into Brad's face and giggle at everything."

Smith himself agreed that sparks were flying.

"Viewers who flock to theaters to see if Pitt and Jolie have any onscreen chemistry will get their answer — a breathless 'Yes!' — less than five minutes into the movie, when the soaking wet, tequila-addled duo bump and grind to a sultry Latin beat in one of many sizzling scenes," he wrote.

"At first, they keep their shady jobs a secret from each other and try to live a boring suburban life. Later, they do a spicy tango while groping one another (ostensibly to check for guns and knives). Finally, there's an all-out brawl in which they chase each other through their suburban house with machine guns and cleavers — then pummel each other with their bare fists after they exhaust all their ammo. The sparks fly fast and furious as the shootout turns into a sexy smackdown and they do the dirty deed all over the kitchen table."

Pitt, 41, separated from Aniston in January after 4 1/2 years of marriage. Aniston, 36, filed for divorce in March, citing irreconcilable differences.

Photos of Pitt, 30-year-old Jolie and her 4-year-old son, Maddox, walking together on a beach in Africa were published in April.

In the July issue of Marie Claire, Jolie said she "thinks the world" of Pitt — but never slept with him. She also said she would never sleep with a married man.

But in the July issue of W magazine, Jolie said:

"People want an answer about what's happening in my life and my family, but I need to know what's happening first. And I don't plan to discuss it before then."

Pitt was similarly cryptic: "Well, I just don't want to ... I really don't ... let me see. I'm really wary, in this particular climate, of commenting. I just can't find any safe bets," he said.

As for the speculation that Pitt and Jolie are purposely dragging out the are-they-or-aren't-they saga to sell more movie tickets, Sigesmund said he doesn't think so.

"I don’t know that Brad and Angelina are trying to fan the flames, but I do think the rumors themselves have fanned the flames. They're doing interviews this week and they're not confirming or denying anything.

"This has made people even more interested. But I don’t think they are doing it on purpose."

Associated Press review

New York Times review

New York Daily News review