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'Fast X' Speeds to No. 1; Knocks 'Guardians 3' to 2nd

The 10th installment of the “Fast and Furious” franchise was off to the races this weekend, knocking “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” out of first place and easily claiming the No. 1 spot at the box office. “Fast X” earned $67.5 million in ticket sales from 4,046 North American theaters, according to estimates from Universal Pictures on Sunday.

It’s on the lower end of openings for the series which peaked with “Furious 7’s” $142.2 million launch, the sole movie in the series to surpass $100 million out of the gates. “Fast X’s” domestic debut only ranks above the first three. The last movie, “F9,” opened to $70 million in 2021.

But this is also a series that has usually made the bulk of its money internationally, often over 70%. True to form, overseas it’s on turbo drive. “Fast X” opened in 84 markets internationally, playing in over 24,000 theaters, where it earned an estimated $251.4 million. The top market was China with $78.3 million, followed by Mexico with $16.7 million. And it adds up to a $319 million global debut — the third biggest of the franchise.

“It’s a global franchise with a very broad audience,” said Jim Orr, Universal’s head of domestic distribution. “The themes resonate across the world.”

Directed by Louis Leterrier (who took over from Justin Lin during production), “Fast X” brings back the familiar crew including Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson and Jordana Brewster and adds several newcomers, like Brie Larson, Rita Moreno and a villain played by Jason Momoa. The ever-expanding cast includes Jason Statham, Charlize Theron, Scott Eastwood and Helen Mirren.

Reports say the movie cost $340 million to produce, not including marketing.

Reviews were mixed for “Fast X,” the beginning of the end for the $6 billion franchise, which currently has a 54% on Rotten Tomatoes. AP’s Mark Kennedy wrote in his review that, “It has become almost camp, as if it breathed in too much of its own fumes” and that it’s also “monstrously silly and stupidly entertaining.”

According to exit polls, audiences were 29% Caucasian, 29% Hispanic and 21% Black, and 58% were between the ages of 18 and 34. They gave the film a B+ CinemaScore.

In its third weekend, Disney and Marvel’s ” Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 ” made an estimated $32 million in North America to take second place. It’s now made $266.5 million domestically and $659.1 million globally.

Third place went to another Universal juggernaut, “The Super Mario Bros. Movie,” which is now in its seventh weekend and available to rent on VOD. Nevertheless, it earned an additional $9.8 million in North America, bringing its domestic total to $549.3 million.

“Book Club: The Next Chapter ” added $3 million in its second weekend to take fourth place, while “Evil Dead Rise” rounded out the top five in its fifth weekend with $2.4 million.

“Mario” and “Fast X” are just the latest success stories for Universal, following hits like “Cocaine Bear” and “M3GAN.” And later this summer, on July 21, they’ll release Christopher Nolan’s ” Oppenheimer.”

“Universal as a studio is just on a roll like no other by having this incredible slate of films from all different types of genres,” said Paul Dergarabedian, the senior media analyst for Comscore. “They’ve created a release strategy that’s really picture perfect so far.”

“Fast X” doesn’t have an entirely open runway though. Next weekend there will be sizable competition in Disney’s live-action “The Little Mermaid,” in addition to a slew of crowd-pleasers hoping to catch a Memorial Day weekend audience, including Julia Louis-Dreyfus in “You Hurt My Feelings” and the broad comedy “About My Father,” with Sebastian Maniscalco and Robert De Niro.

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Comscore. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.

1. “Fast X,” $67.5 million.

2. “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3,” $32 million.

3. “The Super Mario Bros. Movie,” $9.8 million.

4. “Book Club: The Next Chapter,” $3 million.

5. “Evil Dead Rise,” $2.4 million.

6. “John Wick: Chapter 4,” $1.3 million.

7. “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret,” $1.3 million.

8. “Hypnotic,” $825,000.

9. “MET Opera: Don Giovanni,” $701,025.

10. “BlackBerry,” $525,000.

‘I was completely rejected’: Manchester Arena survivor recalls struggle to get therapy

Ellie Taylor, 15 at the time of 2017 terrorist attack, was shocked by how hard it was to obtain trauma counselling

Ellie Taylor had been looking forward to the Ariana Grande concert for months. It was a 15th birthday present from her mother and was perfectly timed – the day of her first GCSE exam. The date was 22 May 2017.

Ellie, now 21, recalls shards of memory from that appalling day. She remembers watching Martyn Hett “living his best life” as he danced in Block 103 – he was a stranger at the time but she later recognised his face on the news.

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In Cannes, Scorsese and Dicaprio Turn Spotlight Toward Osage Nation

It was well into the process of making “Killers of the Flower Moon” that Martin Scorsese realized it wasn’t a detective story.

Scorsese, actor Leonardo DiCaprio and screenwriter Eric Roth had many potential avenues in adapting David Grann’s expansive nonfiction history, “Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI.” The film that Scorsese and company premiered Saturday at the Cannes Film Festival, however, wasn’t like the one they initially set out to make.

The film, which will open in theaters in October, chronicles the series of killings that took place throughout the Osage Nation in 1920s Oklahoma. The Osage were then enormously rich from oil on their land, and many white barons and gangsters alike sought to control and steal their money. Dozens of Osage Native Americans were killed before the FBI, in its infancy, began to investigate.

DiCaprio had originally been cast to star as FBI agent Tom White. But after mulling the project over, Scorsese decided to pivot.

“I said, ‘I think the audience is ahead of us,’” Scorsese told reporters Sunday in Cannes. “They know it’s not a whodunit. It’s a who-didn’t-do-it.”

The shift, filmmakers said, was largely driven from collaboration with the Osage. Osage Nation Chief Standing Bear, who consulted on the film, praised the filmmakers for centering the story instead on Mollie (Lily Gladstone) and her husband Ernest Burkhart (DiCaprio), the tragic romance at the heart of Scorsese’s epic of insidious American ethnic exploitation.

“Early on, I asked Mr. Scorsese, ‘How are you going to approach the story? He said I’m going to tell a story about trust, trust between Mollie and Ernest, trust between the outside world and the Osage, and the betrayal of those trusts,” said Chief Standing Bear. “My people suffered greatly and to this very day those effects are with us. But I can say on behalf of the Osage, Marty Scorsese and his team have restored trust and we know that trust will not be betrayed.”

“Killers of the Flower Moon,” the most anticipated film to debut at this year’s Cannes, instead became about Ernest, who Scorsese called “the character the least is written about.”

DiCaprio, who ceded the character of White to Jesse Plemons, said “Killers of the Flower Moon” reverberates with other only recently widely discussed dark chapters of American history.

“This story, much like the Tulsa massacre, has been something that people have started to learn about and started to understand is part of culture, part of our history,” said DiCaprio. “After the screenplay, from almost an anthropological perspective — Marty was there every day — we were talking to the community, trying to hear the real stories and trying to incorporate the truth.”

“Killers of the Flower Moon” premiered Saturday to largely rave reviews and thunderous applause nearly 50 years after Scorsese, as a young filmmaker, was a sensation at Cannes. His “Taxi Driver” won the Palme d’Or in 1976.

Among the most-praised performances has been that of Gladstone, the actor of Blackfeet and Nimíipuu heritage.

“These artistic souls on this stage here cared about telling a story that pierces the veil of what society tells us we’re supposed to care about and not,” said Gladstone, who singled out Scorsese. “Who else is going to challenge people to challenge their own complicity in white supremacy in such a platform except as this man here?”

“We’re speaking of the 1920s Osage community. We’re talking about Black Wall Street and Tulsa. We’re talking about a lot in our film,” she continued. “Why the hell does the world not know about these things? Our communities always have. It’s so central to everything about how we understand our place in the world.”

In the film, Robert De Niro plays a wealthy baron who’s particularly adept at plundering the Osage. Speaking Sunday, De Niro was still mulling his character’s motivations.

“There’s a kind of feeling of entitlement,” said De Niro. “It’s the banality of evil. It’s the thing that we have to watch out for. We see it today, of course. We all know who I’m going to talk about, but I won’t say the name. Because that guy is stupid. Imagine if you’re smart?”

A minute later, De Niro resumed: “I mean, look at Trump,” referring to former President Donald Trump.

With a running time well over three hours and a budget from Apple of $200 million, “Killers of the Flower Moon” is one of Scorsese’s largest undertakings. Asked where he gets the gumption for such risks, the 80-year-old director didn’t hesitate.

“As far as taking risks at this age, what else can I do?” said Scorsese. “‘No, let’s go do something comfortable.’ Are you kidding?”

Biden to Republicans: Abandon Extreme Positions, Prevent US Default

Talks to prevent the U.S. defaulting on its debt continued Sunday, even as U.S. President Joe Biden made his way home after attending the G-7 summit in Japan. VOA’s Veronica Balderas Iglesias has a recap of where Democrats and Republicans currently stand on raising the debt limit.