'Avatar' surpasses $1 billion worldwide
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LOS ANGELES — James Cameron's science-fiction epic "Avatar" had another stellar weekend with $68.3 million domestically, shooting past $1 billion worldwide, only the fifth movie ever to hit that mark.
No. 1 for the third straight weekend, 20th Century Fox's "Avatar" raised its domestic total to $352.1 million after just 17 days. The film added $133 million overseas to lift its international haul to $670 million, for a worldwide gross of $1.02 billion.
"Avatar" opened two weekends earlier with $77 million, a strong start but far below dozens of other blockbusters that debuted as high as $158 million. But business for other blockbusters usually tumbles in following weekends, while "Avatar" revenues barely dropped over the busy Christmas and New Year's weekends.
Finishing at No. 2 for the weekend was Robert Downey Jr.'s crime caper "Sherlock Holmes" with $38.4 million. The Warner Bros. film lifted its domestic total to $140.7 million after 10 days in theaters.
'HURT LOCKER' WINS CRITICS' TOP HONORS
"The Hurt Locker," Kathryn Bigelow's urgent Iraq war thriller about a squad that defuses improvised explosive devices, collected three top prizes yesterday at the National Society of Film Critics' 44th annual meeting in New York. The group cited it as best film of 2009, with Bigelow the best director and Jeremy Renner the year's best actor.
The independent film has dominated critics' awards this season, earning kudos from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, the New York Film Critics Circle and the Boston Society of Film Critics. While critics' groups are not always Oscar bellwethers, these laurels and its three Golden Globe nominations make "The Hurt Locker" a serious Oscar contender.
The society chose Yolande Moreau as best actress for her performance in "Seraphine," a French film about the painter Seraphine de Senlis. Mo'Nique, searing as an abusive mother in "Precious," took supporting-actress honors. Joel and Ethan Coen took screenplay honors for their black comedy, "A Serious Man."
POPE'S AIDE VISITS CHRISTMAS EVE ASSAILANT
Pope Benedict XVI's personal aide visited the mentally disturbed young woman who jumped over a barrier and knocked the pontiff down in St. Peter's Basilica on Christmas Eve, a Vatican spokesman said yesterday.
Benedict asked his secretary, Monsignor Georg Gaenswein, to pay a call on 25-year-old Susanna Maiolo "to show his interest and benevolence," the Rev. Federico Lombardi told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.
Lombardi declined to comment on an Italian newspaper report yesterday that the aide told the woman the pope had forgiven her and gave her a rosary during the Dec. 26 visit.
The visit to the psychiatric clinic in the town of Subiaco near Rome had been made discreetly, and the Vatican hadn't planned on publicly talking about it until the newspaper report appeared, Lombardi indicated.