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‘Top Gun: Maverick’ wins Tom Cruise 1st $100 million opening

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‘Top Gun: Maverick’ wins Tom Cruise 1st $100 million opening

‘Top Gun: Maverick’ wins Tom Cruise 1st $100 million opening.

Forget breaking the sound barrier: Tom Cruise just flew past a major career milestone.

The 59-year-old superstar just got his first $100 million opening weekend with “Top Gun: Maverick.” In its first three days in North American theaters, the long-in-the-works sequel earned an estimated $124 million in ticket sales, Paramount Pictures said Sunday. Including international showings, its worldwide total is $248 million.

It’s a supersonic start for a film that still has the wide-open skies of Memorial Day itself to rake in even more cash. According to projections and estimates, by Monday’s close, “Top Gun: Maverick” will likely have over $150 million.

“These results are ridiculously, over-the-top fantastic,” said Chris Aronson, Paramount’s president of domestic distribution. “I’m happy for everyone. I’m happy for the company, for Tom, for the filmmakers.”

Though undeniably one of the biggest stars in the world — perhaps even “the last movie star,” according to various headlines — Cruise is not known for massive blockbuster openings.

Before “Maverick,” his biggest domestic debut was in 2005, with Steven Spielberg’s “War of the Worlds,” which opened to $64 million. After that it was “Mission: Impossible — Fallout” with $61 million in 2018. It’s not that his films don’t make money in the long run: They just aren’t enormously frontloaded.

“Top Gun: Maverick” had an extremely long journey to get to the theaters. The sequel to the late Tony Scott’s “Top Gun,” which was released in 1986, was originally slated to open in the summer of 2020. Its marketing campaign technically started back in July 2019. The pandemic got in the way of those plans, however, and it was delayed several times. Directed by Joseph Kosinski, produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and co-produced and co-financed by Skydance, the sequel reportedly cost $152 million to make.

But even as the months, and years, went by and many other companies chose to compromise on hybrid releases, Cruise and Paramount didn’t waver on their desire to have a major theatrical release. A streaming debut was simply not an option.

“That was never going to happen,” Cruise said in Cannes.

And it is major, with 4,735 North American theaters (a record) showing “Top Gun: Maverick.” It also opened in 23,600 locations in 62 international markets.

“This is one of the longest runways for a marketing campaign for any film ever. And it only served to create more excitement around the movie,” said Paul Dergarabedian, the senior media analyst for Comscore. “This movie literally waited for the movie theater to come back.”

The build up has been just as flashy, with fighter-jet-adorned premieres on an aircraft carrier in San Diego and at the Cannes Film Festival, where Cruise was also given an honorary Palme d’Or, and a royal premiere in London attended by Prince William and his wife Kate.

“The feeling you get when you watch this film with an audience, it’s pretty special,” Aronson said. “The first big screening we had, there was spontaneous applause during the movie.”

Reviews have been stellar, too, with the film notching a 97% on Rotten Tomatoes. Audiences, who were 58% male, gave it an A+ CinemaScore, according to exit polls.

The new film has Cruise reprising the role of Maverick, who returns to the elite aviation training program to train the next generation of flyers, including Miles Teller, Glen Powell, Monica Barbaro, Greg Tarzan Davis, Danny Ramirez, Lewis Pullman and Jay Ellis. Jennifer Connelly, Jon Hamm and Val Kilmer, reprising his role from the original, also star.

“This solidifies the notion that the movie theater is a singular and a vitally important outlet for people,” Dergarabedian said. “People are looking for a great escape from everything that’s going on in the world right now.”

“Maverick” is now among the top pandemic era openings, still led by “Spider-Man: No Way Home” with $260 million, followed by “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” with $187 million and “The Batman” with $134 million.

Notably, “Top Gun: Maverick” is the only non-superhero movie in the bunch. It also attracted a wide swath of age groups to the theater. An estimated 55% of the audience was over 35.

“Superhero movies aren’t for everybody. This movie is for everyone and that’s what sets it apart,” Aronson said. “The theatrical exhibition business has challenges ahead of it, but this is a shot in the arm for that.”

“The Bob’s Burgers Movie” was the only new release that dared go up against “Top Gun.” Released by 20th Century Studios and Disney, the animated pic earned $12.6 million from 3,425 locations. It opened in third place, behind “Doctor Strange 2,” which earned $16.4 million in its fourth weekend in theaters.

“Top Gun” will continue to essentially have the skies to itself until “Jurassic World: Dominion” opens on June 10.

“It has a really nice, open marketplace to play,” Dergarabedian said. “Tom Cruise has always been about consistency. His movies are about the marathon. This is the first movie of his that is sprinting to big box office numbers. Here, he gets the sprint and the marathon.”

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

1. “Top Gun: Maverick,” $124 million.

2. “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” $16.4 million.

3. “The Bob’s Burgers Movie,” $12.6 million.

4. “Downton Abbey: A New Era,” $5.9 million.

5. “The Bad Guys,” $4.6 million.

6. “Sonic the Hedgehog 2,” $2.5 million.

7. “Everything Everywhere All At Once,” $2.5 million.

8. “The Lost City,” $1.8 million.

9. “Men,” $1.2 million.

10. “F3: Fun and Frustration,” $1 million.

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R&B hitmaker R. Kelly due in court for sex abuse sentencing

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R&B hitmaker R. Kelly due in court for sex abuse sentencing

R& B star R. Kelly faces the possibility of a quarter century or more in prison when he is sentenced Wednesday in a federal sex trafficking case in New York.

A jury found Kelly, 55, guilty of racketeering and other counts last year at a trial that was seen as a signature moment in the #MeToo movement.

Outrage over Kelly’s sexual misconduct with young women and children was fueled in part by the widely watched docuseries “Surviving R. Kelly,” which gave voice to accusers who wondered if their stories were previously ignored because they were Black women.

U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly is set to impose the sentence at a federal court in Brooklyn after hearing statements from victims and possibly Kelly himself.

Prosecutors are seeking a minimum 25-year term, while the defense says a sentence of 10 years or less is all he deserves.

Kelly’s lawyers argued in court papers he should get a break in part because he “experienced a traumatic childhood involving severe, prolonged childhood sexual abuse, poverty, and violence.”

They added: “His victimization continued into adulthood where, because of his literacy deficiencies, the defendant has been repeatedly defrauded and financially abused, often by the people he paid to protect him.”

The jury convicted the “I Believe I Can Fly” hitmaker after hearing about how he used his entourage of managers and aides to meet girls and keep them obedient, an operation prosecutors said amounted to a criminal enterprise.

Several accusers testified that Kelly subjected them to perverse and sadistic whims when they were underage.

Kelly, born Robert Sylvester Kelly, used his “fame, money and popularity” to systematically “prey upon children and young women for his own sexual gratification,” prosecutors wrote in their own filing earlier this month.

The accusers alleged they were ordered to sign nondisclosure forms and were subjected to threats and punishments such as violent spankings if they broke what one referred to as “Rob’s rules.”

Some said they believed the videotapes he shot of them having sex would be used against them if they exposed what was happening.

There was testimony Kelly gave several accusers herpes without disclosing he had an STD, coerced a teenage boy to join him for sex with a naked girl who emerged from underneath a boxing ring in his garage, and shot a shaming video of one victim showing her smearing feces on her face as punishment for breaking his rules.

Evidence also was presented about a fraudulent marriage scheme hatched to protect Kelly after he feared he had impregnated R&B phenom Aaliyah in 1994 when she was just 15. Witnesses said they were married in matching jogging suits using a license falsely listing her age as 18; he was 27 at the time.

Aaliyah worked with Kelly, who wrote and produced her 1994 debut album, “Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number.” She died in a plane crash in 2001 at age 22.

An earlier defense memo suggested prosecutors’ arguments for a higher sentence overreached by falsely claiming Kelly participated in the paying of a bribe to a government official in order to facilitate the illegal marriage.

Kelly’s lawyers also said it was wrong to assert he should get more time because he sexually abused one of his victims — referred to in court as “Jane” — after her parents innocently entrusted him to help her with her musical career.

“The record shows that Jane’s parents directed Jane to lie to the defendant about her age and then encouraged her to seduce him,” the papers say.

Kelly has been jailed without bail since in 2019. He’s still facing child pornography and obstruction of justice charges in Chicago, where a trial is scheduled to begin Aug. 15.

 

AP

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Tems, Wizkid bag wins at BET Awards 2022 (Full list of winners)

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Tems, Wizkid bag wins at BET Awards 2022 (Full list of winners)

Nigerian music superstars, Tems and Wizkid bagged impressive wins at the recently concluded Black Entertainment Television (BET) Awards ceremony on Monday, June 27.

On the eventful night that took place at the Microsoft Theatre, Los Angeles, Tems whose real name is Temilade Openiyi went home with two awards.

First, Tems and Wizkid alongside Canadian recording artiste, Justin Bieber received an award for ‘Best Collaboration’ for the song, ‘Essence’; with the win, ‘Essence’ has emerged as the first African song to win a BET award and Wizkid becomes the first Nigerian and African to win an Award outside the Best International Acts category.

Moments later, Tems, emerged as the winner of the Best International Act.

The Nigerian singer, songwriter and record producer was nominated with other talented acts such as Fireboy, Dave from the UK, Dinos from France, Fally Ipupa from Congo, Little Simz from the UK, Ludmilla from Brazil, Major League Djz from South Africa, and Tayc from France.

Tems also made history at the 2022 BET awards when she became the first African female to win the Best International Category.

With her win at the 2022 BET awards, Tems joins Ice Prince, Wizkid, Davido, and Burna Boy as Nigerians who have won the BET Awards.

Watch the moment she received her award below.

In addition to the usual honors, Diddy was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award. He joins Whitney Houston, Prince, Queen Latifah, Anita Baker, Mary J. Blige, Samuel Jackson, and many more in receiving the honor.

Check out the full list of winners below.

BEST FEMALE R&B/POP ARTIST

Jazmine Sullivan — WINNER

BEST MALE R&B/POP ARTIST

The Weeknd – WINNER

BEST GROUP


Silk Sonic (Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak) – WINNER

BEST COLLABORATION

Wizkid f. Justin Bieber & Tems – “Essence” – WINNER

BEST FEMALE HIP HOP ARTIST

Megan Thee Stallion – WINNER

BEST MALE HIP HOP ARTIST

Kendrick Lamar – WINNER

VIDEO OF THE YEAR

Silk Sonic (Bruno Mars & Anderson .Paak) – “Smokin Out The Window” – WINNER

VIDEO DIRECTOR OF THE YEAR

Anderson .Paak – WINNER

BEST NEW ARTIST

Latto — WINNER

ALBUM OF THE YEAR

Silk Sonic (Bruno Mars & Anderson .Paak) – An Evening with Silk Sonic – WINNER

DR. BOBBY JONES BEST GOSPEL/INSPIRATIONAL AWARD

Lil Baby X Kirk Franklin – “We Win” – WINNER

BET HER

Mary J. Blige – “Good Morning Gorgeous” – WINNER

BEST INTERNATIONAL ACT

Tems (Nigeria) – WINNER

BEST MOVIE

King Richard – WINNER

BEST ACTOR

Will Smith – “King Richard” – WINNER

BEST ACTRESS

Zendaya – “Euphoria” / “Spider-Man: No Way Home” – WINNER

YOUNGSTARS AWARD

Marsai Martin — WINNER

SPORTSWOMAN OF THE YEAR AWARD

Naomi Osaka – WINNER

SPORTSMAN OF THE YEAR AWARD

Stephen Curry – WINNER

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Grammys add new categories, including songwriter of the year

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Grammys add new categories, including songwriter of the year

The Grammys are adding a special song for social change award and five new categories including songwriter of the year, giving the Recording Academy an avenue to honor music’s best composer.

The academy announced Thursday that the new non-classical songwriter category will recognize one individual who was the “most prolific” non-performing and non-producing songwriter for a body of new work during an eligibility year. The category is taking a different approach than song of the year, which awards the songwriter or songwriters who wrote the lyrics or melodies to one song.

“This new category is truly for an expert person at the songwriting craft,” Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason jr told The Associated Press. Songwriters must have written a minimum of five songs in which they are credited “solely” as a songwriter or co-writer.

“Somebody who writes their own music and records it would not be eligible,” he said. “They would have to be doing songs for others. We want to highlight the craft of writing songs professionally for artists.”

“Songwriters are at the heart of our business and industry,” he said. “Nothing happens without songwriters. For us, this was a no brainer. It’s in alignment with all the changes. We thought, ‘How can we do more? Showcase more people and be more inclusive to different genres?’”

The new category is another huge step for songwriters. Last year, a rule update allowed that any songwriter, producer, engineer or featured artist on an album nominated for album of the year could ultimately earn a nomination.

The four other categories include best spoken word poetry album, alternative music performance, Americana music performance and score soundtrack for video games and other interactive media.

The academy created a special merit award that determines best song for social change. The award will be based on lyrical content that addresses a timely social issue and promotes “understanding, peacebuilding and empathy.”

“It’s always the right time to recognize music that’s changing the world,” he said. “I think it deserves a special recognition. These songs are important and impactful. We want to make sure we’re honoring and celebrating that artform. This is a great way to do that.”

Mason said it was yearlong process of accepting proposals to make changes, additions and updates from music creators and professionals that make up the membership body.

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