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'Hunger Games' leads Thanksgiving pack, 'Creed' scores

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LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) – Moviegoers said goodbye to Katniss Everdeen and welcomed back Rocky Balboa, a series of farewells and reunions that powered Thanksgiving box office receipts above last year’s holiday.

“The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2” led a crowded field of contenders, topping charts with $75.8 million and bringing its domestic total to $198.3 million. It marks the final film in the hugely popular series, although Lionsgate, the studio behind the franchise, has hinted it wants to figure out ways to create future spin-offs.

The previous two “Hunger Games” films have both debuted the week before Thanksgiving and gone on to rule multiplexes over the holiday. Its dominance is practically a holiday tradition.

If “Mockingjay – Part 2’s” strong returns was a familiar Thanksgiving sight, the big surprise was how well “Creed” performed. The film successfully brought back Sylvester Stallone’s iconic Rocky character and revived a boxing franchise that seemed like a Reagan-era relic after racking up $42.6 million over the five-day holiday period.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and New Line co-produced and co-financed the film, which centers on Rocky rival Apollo Creed’s illegitimate son (Michael B. Jordan) and his efforts to continue his father’s boxing legacy. Stallone plays his coach and confidant. It should have no trouble making back the $37 million that the studios spent putting the “Italian Stallion” back in the ring.

Pixar’s “The Good Dinosaur” capitalized on school holidays, becoming the de facto choice for families. The animated film earned $56 million over the five-day holiday. That’s a solid result and the fourth highest five-day Thanksgiving opening, but it is somewhat disappointing given Pixar’s track record as the most successful provider of all-ages entertainment. It ranks as the third lowest debut in company history. Pixar didn’t provide a budget number, but judging from the cost of its previous films, this one likely carries a $200 million price tag.

“The Good Dinosaur” had a troubled production history. The film’s debut was pushed back by two years and its original director Bob Peterson was pulled from the project over creative disagreements. He was replaced by Peter Sohn and the film underwent a massive overhaul.

The holiday period had some casualties. Fox’s “Victor Frankenstein” was dead on the slab after earning a torpid $3.4 million from 2,797 theaters over its first five days. The attempt to revive Mary Shelley’s monster story cost $40 million to produce and starred James McAvoy and Daniel Radcliffe. It stands as one of the year’s biggest flops.

In the holdover realm, “Spectre” took in $18.2 million, driving its domestic earnings to $176.1 million. The film has now grossed more than two of Daniel Craig’s previous James Bond outings “Casino Royale” ($167.4 million) and “Quantum of Solace” ($168.4 million), but seems unlikely to match the high-water mark set by “Skyfall” ($304.4 million).

“The Peanuts Movie” wasn’t completely overshadowed by “The Good Dinosaur.” The adaptation of the Charles Schulz comic strip picked up $13.6 million, pushing its total to $116.6 million.

Among art house releases, Focus Features premiered “The Danish Girl,” a drama about a transgender artist who undergoes one of the first sex change operations, in four theaters in New York and Los Angeles. It grossed an estimated $185,000, for a solid per-theater average of $46,250.

The Weinstein Company appears to be scoring with “Carol.” The romance about two lesbians pushing against conformity in the 1950s made $203,000 from four theaters over five days. After two weeks, the film has generated $588,000.

Open Road’s “Spotlight,” the widely acclaimed drama about the Boston Globe’s investigation of pedophile priests, continued to perform well in its expansion. The Oscar contender added $5.7 million to its $12 million haul after moving from 600 to 897 locations.

Fox Searchlight’s “Brooklyn” also used the holiday period to broaden its footprint. The story of an Irish immigrant making her way in 1950s New York took in $4.8 million after increasing from 598 to 897 locations. It has made $7.3 million in its first three weeks.

Final results are still trickling in, but it appears that the holiday will outpace last year’s ticket sales by more than 10%. The uptick follows several weekends of disappointing returns as flops like “The Last Witch Hunter,” “The 33” and “Steve Jobs” pulled down box office results. Most analysts expect that despite the fall lassitude, the domestic box office will cross $11 billion for the first time in history.


Source: R-Entertainment

Adele smashes records with 3.38 mln first-week U.S sales of '25'

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NEW YORK British singer Adele’s new album sold a record 3.38 million U.S. copies in its first full week, Nielsen Music said, becoming the biggest-selling album of 2015 in an astonishing feat for an era when artists rarely top 1 million.

In just seven days on sale, “25”, the first album in four years by the Grammy-winning singer, easily outsold the entire year’s figures for country-pop superstar Taylor Swift’s hit album “1989”, according to official figures released by Nielsen on Saturday. Swift’s album has sold some 1.76 million U.S. copies in 2015.

The figures for “25” were the biggest single-week sales tally for an album since Nielsen began tracking sales in 1991.

The first week numbers for “25” put the sultry singer at the head of an elite club of artists, including Britney Spears, Whitney Houston, Eminem and Lady Gaga, whose albums have debuted with more than 1 million U.S. copies.

Last week, it took just four days for the album to break the 15 year-old first-week sales record held by NSync’s 2000 album “No Strings Attached.”

“25” also broke records in Canada and Britain, where its 800,307 copies sold were more than the last 19 No. 1 albums in Britain combined, the Official Charts Company said last week.[nL8N13M3FN]. Worldwide figures were not available.

The sales numbers reflect the wide appeal of the emotional and personal ballads by the 27 year-old British singer, as well as the decision by her independent record company XL Recordings not to make the album available for streaming services including Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer and Google Play. Fans were therefore obliged to pay for the physical CD or to download it from services like iTunes.

However, it is available on U.S. online radio service Pandora although fans cannot choose what tracks or times they can listen.

Adele last week announced a stadium tour of Britain, Ireland and continental Europe, starting in February 2016. No plans have yet been announced for North America or Asia.

(Reporting By Jill Serjeant; Editing by Hugh Lawson)


Source: R-Entertainment

Experts optimistic Tut's tomb may conceal Egypt's lost queen

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LUXOR, Egypt Chances are high that the tomb of Ancient Egypt’s boy-king Tutankhamun has passages to a hidden chamber, which may be the last resting place of the lost Queen Nefertiti, experts said on Saturday.

There is huge international interest in Nefertiti, who died in the 14th century B.C. and is thought to be Tutankhamun’s stepmother, and confirmation of her final resting place would be the most remarkable Egyptian archaeological find this century.

New evidence from the radar imaging taken so far is to be sent to a team in Japan for analysis. The results are expected to be announced in a month.

“We said earlier there was a 60 percent chance there is something behind the walls. But now after the initial reading of the scans, we are saying now its 90 percent likely there is something behind the walls,” Egyptian Antiquities Minister Mamdouh al-Damaty told a news conference.

He said he expected to reach the other side of the tomb’s wall within three months.

Discovery of Nefertiti, whose chiselled cheek-bones and regal beauty were immortalised in a 3,300-year old bust now in a Berlin museum, would shed fresh light on what remains a mysterious period of Egyptian history.

It could also be a boon for Egypt’s ailing tourism industry, which has suffered near endless setbacks since the uprising that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak in 2011 and which is a vital source of foreign currency.

“There is, in fact, an empty space behind the wall based on radar, which is very accurate, there is no doubt,” Japanese radar specialist Hirokatsu Watanabe said, his hand hovering over a fuzzy blue radar scan he said indicated the presence of a false wall. The size of the cavity is not known.

DAMAGE RISK

British Egyptologist Nicholas Reeves, leading the investigation, said last month he believed Tutankhamun’s mausoleum was originally occupied by Nefertiti and that she had lain undisturbed behind what he believes is a partition wall.

But at the news conference with Damaty on Saturday, Reeves warned that even the most minor of incisions in the wall could wreak damage to an inner chamber that may have been hermetically sealed for so many years.

“The key is to excavate slowly and carefully and record well. The fact is this isn’t a race. All archaeology is disruption. We can’t go back and re-do it, so we have to do it well in the first place,” Reeves said.

“I’m feeling more certain today than I expected to be,” he said outside the Howard Carter House, a site named after the British archaeologist propelled to international celebrity for his discovery of the Tutankhamun tomb in 1922.

King Tut, as he is affectionately known, died around 1323 B.C. His intact tomb, complete with his famous golden burial mask, was discovered in the Valley of the Kings in Luxor.

Experts have long sought to understand why Tut’s tomb was smaller than that of other pharaohs and why its shape was more in keeping with that of the Egyptian queens of the time.

Egyptologists remain uncertain over where Nefertiti died and was buried. She was long believed to have passed away during her husband’s reign, suggesting she could be buried in Amarna, where her bust was found in 1912, some 400 km north of Luxor.

More recently, most experts, including Reeves, have come to believe she outlived Akhenaten, who may have been Tut’s father, but changed her name and may have briefly ruled Egypt.

“Research doesn’t always translate into reality. But it looks like we’re headed in the right direction, and our investigations are going well,” said Reeves.

(Reporting by Eric Knecht; Writing by Michael Georgy)


Source: R-Entertainment

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