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LOS ANGELES – The filmmakers and studio behind “Joker” have reason to put on a happy face. Despite concerns over its violent themes and ramped up theater security, audiences flocked to the multiplex to check out the R-rated film this weekend resulting in a record October opening.
Warner Bros. said Sunday that “Joker” grossed an estimated $93.5 million in ticket sales from 4,374 screens in North America. The previous October record-holder was the Spider-Man spinoff “Venom” which opened to $80 million last year. Internationally, “Joker” earned $140.5 million from 73 markets, resulting in a stunning $234 million global debut.
“This was a much larger result at the box office than we had ever anticipated globally,” said Jeff Goldstein, Warner Bros.’ president of domestic distribution. “Putting records aside, we’re just thrilled that audiences are embracing the movie as strong as they are.”
Since debuting at the Venice Film Festival where it won the prestigious Golden Lion last month, “Joker” has been both praised and criticized for its dark spin on the classic Batman villain played by Joaquin Phoenix. The film from director and co-writer Todd Phillips was always seen as a bit of a gamble with one of the studios’ most valuable pieces of intellectual property, hence its modest-for-a-comic-book-film $55 million budget.
But in the weeks leading up to its release, hype and uneasiness intensified beyond how audiences would react to placing this character in a realistic and unambiguously adult setting with “Taxi Driver” undertones. Responding to anxiety that the film might have the potential to inspire violence, multiple theater chains banned costumes or reaffirmed earlier policies regarding masks and authorities in numerous cities said they were stepping police patrols around theaters. Some relatives of the 2012 Aurora movie theater shooting even asked Warner Bros . to commit to gun control causes – the studio said it always has.
While some worried this would impact the box office, it did not ultimately detract audiences from turning out opening weekend; the box office surpassed industry expectations and may rise even higher when weekend actuals are reported Monday. Although the film got a B+ CinemaScore from opening night audiences, the studio is optimistic about its long-term playability.
“Sixty-six percent of the audience was under the age of 35,” Goldstein said. “That tells you that the audience will expand out with that younger group as time goes on.” The younger audience also gave the film a more favorable A- CinemaScore.
Paul Dergarabedian, the senior media analyst for box office tracker Comscore, said that the convergence of critical acclaim and controversy actually helped the film become bigger than expected at the box office.
“It’s the ultimate water-cooler movie right now,” Dergarabedian said.
He added that it was important that “Joker” was always marketed as a “very dark, R-rated film.”
“It always had an element of mystery and danger surrounding it,” Dergarabedian said. “If it were a G-rated film, controversy like this would not be a good thing.”
In the landscape of R-rated comic book films, “Joker” is nestled between “Deadpool” and its sequel, both of which opened over $125 million, and “Logan,” which launched with $88.4 million.
“Joker” was the only new wide release this weekend, which is down from last year when both “Venom” and “A Star is Born” opened. Holdovers populated the top 10: The more family friendly “Abominable” landed in second place with $12 million in its second weekend and “Downton Abbey” took third in its third weekend with $8 million.
With awards buzz behind it, the Judy Garland biopic “Judy,” starring Renee Zellweger, added nearly 1,000 screens this weekend and placed seventh with $4.5 million from 1,458 locations.
And in limited release, Pedro Almodovar’s critically acclaimed “Pain and Glory” launched on four screens to a solid $160,087. Less fortunate was the Natalie Portman-led astronaut drama “Lucy in the Sky” which earned only $55,000 from 37 theaters resulting in a dismal $1,500 per screen average.
NASHVILLE, Tennessee – Country music superstar Garth Brooks has more than just friends in low places. The Library of Congress said Wednesday that the Grammy winner will receive the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song next March for his hit “Friends in Low Places.”
Previous recipients include Tony Bennett, Paul Simon, Carole King and Willie Nelson. Brooks is a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame. His many top hits alongside “Friends in Low Places” include “The Thunder Rolls,” “The Dance,” “Shameless” and “What She’s Doing Now.”
At 57, he’ll be the youngest recipient of the Gershwin Prize. He will be honored with an all-star tribute concert in Washington, D.C., that will air on PBS stations in spring 2020.
“An award is only as good as the names on it,” Brooks said in a statement. “First off, for any musician, the name Gershwin says it all. Add to Ira’s and George’s names the names of the past recipients, and you have an award of the highest honor. I am truly humbled.“
Since his debut in 1989, Brooks has become a top-selling and touring musical force, bringing his brand of high energy and emotional country music to stadiums and arenas.
He is the bestselling solo artist in the United States with more than 148 million in album sales, according to the Recording Industry Association of America, and is second only in total U.S. sales to the Beatles.
Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Brooks combined his love of classic country music and cowboy songs with production typically seen in rock and pop acts. Seven of his albums have sold more than 10 million copies in the United States alone, according to the RIAA.
In the early 2000s, he took a break from recording and touring to spend more time with his family in Oklahoma. Brooks returned to major touring and recording in 2014, had a hit headliner residency at Wynn Las Vegas and remains one of country’s most popular touring acts. He is married to fellow country star Trisha Yearwood.
Ethics complaint targets Spokane Councilwoman Karen Stratton’s endorsement of Pasco marijuana businessCache
Spokane City Councilwoman Karen Stratton’s endorsement last summer of a marijuana business seeking a license in Pasco has prompted formal allegations of unethical conduct.
The complaint, made to the city’s volunteer Ethics Commission, was made in the midst of a re-election campaign for Stratton, and as she and her husband navigate a bankrupcty case complicated by her own ties to the marijuana industry. The complaint was made by Spokane resident Neil Muller, who has made political contributions to Republican lawmakers and former political foes of Stratton. He alleges a letter the councilwoman sent, on official city letterhead, violates “both in spirit and specifically” several provisions of the city’s ethical code, including prohibitions on conflicts of interest and using an official position for personal financial gain.
Stratton said her relationship with Lucky Leaf, a marijuana retailer that opened in downtown Spokane in 2015, was borne out of her official role on the council assisting a business with complaints from the public. The pot shop opened amidst many protests from a nearby church four years ago. Stratton also said the marijuana production business she operates with her husband and other family partners does not have a processing license from the state, which would be necessary to sell their product directly to a retail store.
“I wrote it as a city councilperson, to me it was a city council to city council thing,” Stratton said, adding that she did not believe her actions were violations of the city’s ethical code.
The letter urges members of the Pasco City Council to consider the economic opportunities afforded by retailers such as Lucky Leaf, drawing on the transformations along First Avenue in downtown Spokane where the shop is located.
“The area has seen a resurgence of investment in recent years, and Lucky Leaf has been an important part of that resurgence,” Stratton wrote in her letter.
The owners of Lucky Leaf opened the store in Spokane after city officials forced closure of their Pasco storefront in 2015, and were hoping lawmakers there would reconsider their ban on stores during the summer of 2018. A ban on marijuana businesses in the central Washington city remains in place.
Stratton said she was approached by David and Shilo Morgan, owners of Lucky Leaf, to write a letter on their behalf, and she conferred with the City Council’s policy advisor, Brian McClatchey, before sending her own letter.
“I know Brian and I talked about it,” Stratton said. But Stratton said the conversation did not include whether writing the letter on city letterhead was appropriate.
When Washington regulators established the legal marijuana industry in the state, they split licenses to operate in the business into three categories: producers, processors and retailers. Producers are allowed by law only to sell to other producers or to processors. Processors are allowed to sell to retail stores. Some businesses own both producer and processor licenses, but Stratton’s business does not, which means her farm cannot sell directly to Lucky Leaf.
“Had that been a processor, I probably wouldn’t have done it,” Stratton said. “We don’t sell to retailers.”
David Morgan said Monday his business has never purchased directly from Stratton.
“There’s really no business connection,” he said.
But nothing in the law would prevent product her business had sold to a processor from ultimately winding up on Lucky Leaf’s shelves.
The letter, in the upper right corner, includes the logo of the City of Spokane and Stratton’s official office. Muller, in his complaint, urges the Ethics Commission to examine whether that official statement should be considered a conflict of interest.
“Stratton could have easily chosen to write a personal and/or business letter supporting her cannabis business colleagues and forwarding her personal political beliefs,” Muller wrote. “Instead, she invoked her office and the City of Spokane in a most improper manner.”
Stratton said the letter has been shared in Republican circles online, and the councilwoman canceled her scheduled appearance at an unrelated candidate event with the local GOP because they hadn’t called her to question her motives before posting the letter on their Facebook page in August.
“If I’ve done something wrong, I’ve been very transparent about it,” Stratton said. “I just can’t believe that this would be an ethics complaint. David Condon, Andy Rathbun and Jim Hedemark will do whatever they can to make this hard for me. Period.”
Rathbun is running against Stratton for her seat in northwest Spokane, and Hedemark is a political consultant for Rathbun’s campaign. Condon, Spokane’s mayor, reposted on his personal Facebook page a link to a blog shared to a local politics group mentioning the Strattons’ bankruptcy and her letter to the Pasco City Council.
The complaint also alleges a violation of the ethics code that prohibits the acceptance of gifts or gratuity for public services if it was “intended to serve as a reward for any official action on their part.” Lucky Leaf made a $1,000 contribution to Stratton’s re-election campaign Aug. 8, according to Public Disclosure Commission filings, but Morgan said the letter was not discussed before his firm made the donation.
Rathbun said he knew Muller professionally, but was unaware the ethics complaint had been filed. He declined to say whether the letter was an appropriate use of city resources.
“She wrote the letter, so she’ll have to answer as to her motivations,” Rathbun said.
Condon said in an email over the weekend that he had not coordinated with anyone in posting the link on his personal Facebook page. The mayor and Stratton have quarreled publicly several times in the past few years over issues including pay for department heads, Condon’s push for a restructured 911 response system in the city and the handling of the ouster of former Spokane Police Chief Frank Straub.
Muller has not contributed to Rathbun’s campaign, according to records filed with the Washington Public Disclosure Commission. But he contributed to Condon’s 2011 and 2015 mayoral campaigns, as well as a $50 donation in 2015 to Evan Verduin, who was running against Stratton. Verduin earned the mayor’s endorsement in that contest.
Stratton has recused herself from some votes involving the marijuana industry in the past, including when an arcade with dubious origins attempted to block the opening of a retailer on East Sprague Avenue.
As of Monday, the city’s Ethics Commission had not scheduled a meeting to discuss the complaint.
From Texas Standard . A year ago Saturday, Amazon announced it was buying Whole Foods, prompting a flurry of questions about what it meant for the country’s biggest online retailer to get involved in the grocery business. Since then, the industry has started exploring ecommerce, but Amazon has been moving cautiously.
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So the city of San Francisco is trying to recycle restaurant grease into biofuel for automobiles, to save the city's pipes from having a heart attack, and to clean our air, and to save the planet from melting, and it's going to be so awesome, even the Chronicle and its self-styled nemesis BeyondChron manage to agree on its front-page-worthy awesomeness.
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The meeting on 3 October was attended by the US Embassy’s Deputy Chief of Mission Mr George Sibley and seems to show the US’ interest to invest in Mandalay.
The business council delegation was led by its President & CEO Mr Alexander C Feldman with representatives from US companies Abbott, Amazon, Bower Group Asia, Chevron, Chubb, Coca-Cola, Diageo, Ford, Google, Jhpiego, MasterCard and Visa engaging in discussions with merchants and businesspeople from Mandalay.
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(Translated by Zaw Htet Oo)
Ref; THE GLOBAL NEW LIGHT OF MYANMAR
PHOTO: PHOTO: KHINE SET WAI
‘At 50, I’m willing to give another man one last chance’ -Ayo Adesanya Talks Future Plans For Marriage In New InterviewCache
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CBS News is The Latest to Report Health Concerns Regarding 5G Small Cell Tower Installation
May 31, 2018
By B.N. Frank
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