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Globalism reigns at box office, while 'Furious' passes $1B

A South India sensation, a Hispanic-focused comedy and the highest-grossing film ever directed by an African American made up the top three films in North America on a culturally diverse box office weekend.

As expected, it was another runaway weekend for "The Fate of the Furious," which took No. 1 for the third straight week with $19.4 million, according to studio estimates Sunday. The Universal Pictures release also throttled past $1 billion globally, and passed its predecessor, "Furious 7," to become the highest-grossing imported film in China with $361 million.

The "Fast and the Furious" franchise, the latest of which is helmed by F. Gary Gray, has always been held up as a model of the diverse blockbuster, given its cast led by Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson. But the smaller films that trailed it over the weekend also reflected the box-office might of often underserved audiences.

In second domestically with $12 million and drawing an overwhelmingly Hispanic crowd was Eugenio Derbez's comedy, "How to Be a Latin Lover." The film is easily the biggest success yet for Pantelion, the Latino-oriented joint venture of Lionsgate and Grupo Televisa.

"How to Be a Latin Lover" co-stars Salma Hayek, Rob Lowe and Kristen Bell. But its top draw is Derbez, whose "Instructions Not Included" was the highest-grossing Spanish-language film in North America in 2013. The audience for "How to be a Latin Lover" was 89 percent Hispanic.

In third was "Baahubali 2: The Conclusion," a so-called Tollywood (Telugu language) film from South India, which pulled in a remarkable $10.1 million despite playing on just 420 screens. ("The Fate of the Furious" played on more than 4,000.)

"Baahubali 2" even bested a pair of Hollywood's biggest stars in Emma Watson and Tom Hanks. Their terribly reviewed thriller "The Circle," distributed by STX Films on behalf of EuropaCorp, opened with $9.3 million.

Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for comScore, said such global weekends at the box office will become more common.

"In what is a slow and would otherwise be unremarkable weekend, this is a really interesting lineup of films," said Dergarabedian. "This is the final weekend before the summer season kicks off and the blockbusters hit theaters. But this weekend is marked by an incredible amount of multicultural content. It reflects the world that we're living in."

"Baahubali 2" follows the 2015 original that set box-office records in India, a breakthrough for a non-Hindi film. The 2015 film grossed $9.3 million in the U.S. and more than $100 million worldwide. With $1.8 million on domestic IMAX screens, a record for a foreign language film on IMAX, "Baahubali 2" may break more records.

Its success isn't surprising to everyone.

"We were expecting exactly the numbers we're seeing right now. We're happy our expectations were right," said Soma Kancherla of the film's North American distributor, Great India Films. "I know for a few people they're like, 'Wow,' but to break even, we needed to make that kind of money."

The summer movie season begins next week with "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2." With the Marvel behemoth on deck, few new films were released in an otherwise quiet weekend.

Disney's "Guardians of the Galaxy" sequel began its international rollout over the weekend, opening in 37 territories ahead of its North American debut. It earned an estimated $101.2 million, a promising start for what's expected to be one of the summer's biggest hits.

"Guardians" will likely be the third $1 billion movie in 2017, following "Beauty and the Beast" and "The Fate of the Furious." Disney said "Vol. 2" is running 57 percent ahead of the pace of the original, which made $773.3 million in 2014.

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to comScore. Where available, the latest international numbers also are included. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.

1. "The Fate of the Furious," $19.4 million ($68.4 million international).

2. "How to Be a Latin Lover," $12 million.

3. "Baahubali 2: The Conclusion," $10.1 million ($3.7 million international).

4. "The Circle," $9.3 million.

5. "The Boss Baby," $9.1 million ($15.5 million international).

6. "Beauty and the Beast," $6.4 million ($17.2 million international).

7. "Going in Style," $3.6 million ($3 million international).

8. "Smurfs: The Lost Village," $3.3 million ($11.7 million international).

9. "Gifted," $3.3 million.

10. "Unforgettable," $2.3 million.

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Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at international theaters (excluding the U.S. and Canada), according to comScore:

1. "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2," $101.2 million

2. "The Fate of the Furious," $68.4 million.

3. "Shock Wave," $24.2 million.

4. "Battle of Memories," $21.8 million.

5. "Beauty and the Beast," $17.2 million.

6. "The Boss Baby," $15.5 million.

7. "Love Off the Cuff," $13.7 million.

8. "This Is Not What I Expected," $12.3 million.

9. "Smurfs: The Lost Village," $11.7 million.

10. "The Mayor," $5 million.

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Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP

Iranian filmmaker imprisoned over his work released early

An award-winning Iranian filmmaker imprisoned over his work has been released after serving about five months of his yearlong sentence, though he doesn't know whether he'll make movies again in the Islamic Republic.

Keywan Karimi told The Associated Press on Sunday that he credited international pressure for his early release, as well as escaping the 223 lashes that were part of his sentence. Others, however, remain imprisoned in the Islamic Republic as part of a hard-line crackdown amid President Hassan Rouhani's outreach to the wider world through the nuclear deal.

Karimi said in an interview over Skype that he served his sentence in Tehran's Evin prison, which holds political prisoners and dual nationals detained by the security services. He described spending his first month in solitary confinement, a place he described as "very dirty, very cold."

He said he suffered pain in his stomach and leg, but ultimately recovered. He later was put into the general prison population, sharing a room with 20 other prisoners.

"You're far away from freedom, far away from something you love," Karimi said.

Karimi was convicted of "insulting sanctities" in Iran, whose government is ultimately overseen by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The case involved footage from both a "video clip" and a film he directed called "Writing on the City," which focuses on political graffiti in Iran from its 1979 Islamic Revolution to its contested 2009 election.

Karimi is perhaps best known by international film critics for his 2013 black-and-white minimalist film, "The Adventure of the Married Couple." The short film, based on a story by Italian writer Italo Calvino, follows the grinding routine of a husband and wife working opposite shifts, she in a bottle factory and he at a mannequin store. Neither speaks, the only noise is the hum of the city they live in.

The film played in some 40 film festivals and won prizes in Spain and Colombia.

Karimi is one of several artists, poets, journalists, models and activists arrested in a crackdown on expression led by hard-liners who oppose Rouhani. His release comes ahead of Iran's May presidential election, in which Rouhani is seeking re-election.

For now, Karimi said he was grateful to be out of prison, though he felt alienated from Iran and its people.

"I want to continue filmmaking, but I don't know how and in which country," Karimi said.

Coppola and 'Godfather' cast reunite at Tribeca Film Fest

Debilitating studio battles. One miraculously still cat. Mooning contests between James Caan and Marlon Brando. These were the memories shared, 45 years later, on the making of "The Godfather" in a rare reunion of the film's cast and director Francis Ford Coppola at Radio City Music Hall.

With the stage decorated to resemble the library of Brando's Don Corleone, and a portrait of the actor hanging above, Coppola and cast members Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Robert Duvall, James Caan, Diane Keaton and Talia Shire, gathered together once again on Saturday. The night was organized by De Niro as the closing evening of his Tribeca Film Festival, which preceded the affair with a grand double feature of "The Godfather," parts one and two.

That made for a long day — the event spanned nearly nine hours — but one of giddy delight for devotees of Coppola's masterpieces.

While both films are widely viewed as among the finest ever made, Coppola and cast spoke again and again about the films' humble origins, when Coppola was a young, untested director, Pacino was an unknown theater actor who the studio, Paramount, was loathe to cast, and few thought the source material — Mario Puzo's best-seller — was the stuff of great cinema.

Even Coppola, himself.

"I was disappointed in the book when I first read it because it's very long," said Coppola, who called Puzo's book "a bit of a potboiler."

"Much of the book — about a third — is about Lucy Mancini's anatomy," he said.

Coppola's battles over casting Pacino as Michael Corleone have long been Hollywood legend. To help convince the wary studio, Pacino said he did more screen tests — including after he actually got the part — than he could remember. Pacino even suggested Coppola shouldn't fight so hard for him, telling him, "It's OK. We'll work again. There are other things to do."

But Coppola was enamored with Pacino. After meeting him in San Francisco, he couldn't shake the image of Pacino as Corleone. "I just saw his face," said Coppola. "Everywhere we went, all the girls lit up for Al, for some reason."

Still, Pacino was skeptical. "I thought, 'Gee, it's not a really good role," said the now 77-year-old actor of the part that earned him two Oscar nods and made him a movie star. "Sonny is the part I can play," he said, referring to the hot-headed Sonny Corleone, played by Caan. (De Niro, who ended up playing young Don Vito Corleone in Part II, also auditioned for the part of Sonny.)

When the shoot got off to a rocky start, Pacino lost his already shaky faith. "It's over," he remembered thinking. "This is the worst film ever made!"

But Pacino said he was straightened out after a pep talk from Coppola, who showed him early footage of his performance and told the struggling Pacino "to get your chops together."

There were many such stories shared Saturday. All marveled at the cat, roaming nearby, that was thrust into one scene where it calmly burrowed in Brando's lap. After the lengthy wedding scene, Pacino said, he and Keaton "got so loaded, we were on the floor." During the same scene, Duvall said, "We were all mooning each other and Brando took it very seriously."

Brando, of course, wasn't the only one missing Saturday. John Cazale (Fredo) was spoken of frequently, as was cinematographer Gordon Willis.

The event was moderated by Taylor Hackford and live streamed on Facebook. The conversation sometimes got bogged down and some on the panel hardly spoke, as many watching grumbled. De Niro said little until nearly an hour in.

But if it was an imperfect evening, it only highlighted the almost inhumane perfection of the movies Coppola et al produced. Having recently watched the films for the first time in decades, Keaton could hardly contain her amazement.

"Every choice you made was so authentically brilliant," she exclaimed to Coppola. "It's so unusual!"

With time running out, Coppola tried to take questions from the audience, asking for the house lights to be raised and urging audience members to holler out. But after a few questions, a voice announced over the speakers that the night was over and "The Godfather" got the hook.

Coppola and the group gathered together on stage to embrace each other while the crowd, eager for more, took pictures of the legendary "Godfather" team, draped arm in arm.

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Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP

Head of Motion Picture Association of America to step down

Former U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd is stepping down as chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America.

The MPAA said Friday that their board will gather Saturday to name Charles Rivkin as successor to Dodd, who is resigning Sept. 4.

Rivkin was previously the U.S. assistant secretary of state for economic and business affairs and a U.S. ambassador to France and Monaco.

Dodd led the MPAA for six years, and one of his main concerns was preventing digital piracy and protecting copyrights. He also helped expand the presence of U.S. films in the Chinese market and revise the revenue-sharing model to benefit Hollywood studios.

Disney Chairman Alan Horn said in a statement that Dodd transformed the MPAA into a global association for the digital era.

'Moonlight' director Barry Jenkins ready to return to work

Two months after his "Moonlight" pulled out a last-second, best-picture win at the Oscars, director Barry Jenkins says "it's time to work."

"You live your whole life — not for this moment, but to have a career. So I have a career now. So I'm going to keep going with it," Jenkins said Thursday at the Los Angeles premiere of the Netflix series "Dear White People."

He directed an episode of the series — which looks at race relations and identity on a college campus — in the middle of last year's Hollywood awards circuit promotional push for "Moonlight," which also earned Academy Awards for best supporting actor and best adapted screenplay.

"So my only 10 days off were the 10 days I spent directing this episode. Which was really cool — it was a really good experience," Jenkins said.

Since the Oscars, Jenkins says he spent a month in Mexico.

"I went to Uxmal, which are the Maya ruins. And it was amazing. You talk about being humbled. I grew up in Miami. A 90-minute flight from Miami, there are these pyramids - this whole civilization, this city that pre-existed ours in America. Wonderful, man," he said. "It's the best thing to do after winning an Academy Award."

Jenkins says he's in regular contact with his cast — consulting with them as they navigate possible Hollywood projects.

"They hit me up about choices they are making, decisions they are making," Jenkins said. "You know, Mahershala (Ali) has a very young kid, so I haven't seen him as much. So yeah, we are all a family. The 'Moonlight' tour has ended, but that family continues."

The series "Dear White People" is based on 2014 movie of the same name. Jenkins is also working on an adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel "The Underground Railroad."

The best-picture win for "Moonlight" was made more dramatic because of an error that led to "La La Land" being named first before the error was corrected onstage.

Get to know the new Wonder Woman and Spider-Man

You know the names and you've met them briefly before, but this summer Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman and Tom Holland's Spider-Man take center stage in blockbusters all their own. Both face the gargantuan task of revitalizing brands and properties that could use some help: For "Wonder Woman," the thus critically-derided DC Comics films, and for "Spider-Man: Homecoming," Sony hopes its lone comic book property can launch its own extended universe. Good thing they're both superheroes.

Get to know a bit more about the actors who are playing some of summer's biggest superhero roles:

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GAL GADOT AS WONDER WOMAN

The 31-year-old Israeli model and actress teased audiences with a bit of her Diana Prince/Wonder Woman in "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice," but on June 2 fans will get to explore the origins of the Amazonian warrior in "Wonder Woman."

The film takes Diana from her home island of Themyscira and into the throes of World War I, along with American soldier named Steve Trevor (Chris Pine).

Gadot's Diana, she says, is a powerful warrior with high emotional intelligence, although she doesn't quite understand the gender and social norms of WWI-era London. Gadgot calls it a "beautiful naiveté."

"She sees the world in such a healthy way," Gadot says. "Diana Prince basically stands for everything I stand for: love, peace, justice, truth. I keep on saying that if each and every one of us had a little bit of Wonder Woman in us the world would be a better place."

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TOM HOLLAND AS SPIDER-MAN

Like Wonder Woman's brief appearance in "Batman v Superman," Holland made his debut in a small, but memorable, part in "Captain America: Civil War," when Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark enlists the Queens teenager for some help. Unlike Wonder Woman who has never had a big screen movie to herself, audiences have now had three Spider-Mans in the past 15 years: Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield and Holland.

The 20-year-old British actor says that his Peter Parker/Spider-Man is fairly similar to both Maguire's and Garfield's takes, but with one important difference: Holland was actually in the right age range to play a high school student. (Maguire was 27 when his first Spider-Man came out, and Garfield was 29).

To prepare for "Spider-Man: Homecoming," out July 15, Holland even went undercover to a Queens, N.Y. high school to try to understand what American high school life is like. The biggest difference? Girls and no uniforms — quite a departure from the all-boys school he attended in the U.K.

"I really think people will enjoy the Peter Parker side of the story," Holland says. "With superhero movies I feel like you're always looking for more superhero. But in this movie I hope it will be the reverse ... the Spider-Man part is just an added bonus."

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Follow AP Film Writer Lindsey Bahr on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ldbahr

Rebel Wilson sues Australian publisher for defamation

Rebel Wilson is suing an Australian publisher for defamation over a series of magazine articles the actress says cost her movie roles by painting her as a serial liar.

Wilson's lawyer, Renee Enbom, said during a court hearing on Friday that the Australian-born actress would present evidence that the articles published by Bauer Media in 2015 led to her film contracts being terminated.

Wilson's lawsuit, filed last year, accuses Bauer of damaging her reputation by printing articles that alleged she had used a fake name and lied about her age and upbringing in Australia. The articles appeared online and in print in several Australian magazines including Woman's Day and The Australian Women's Weekly.

The lawsuit claims that Wilson was humiliated and lost out on roles because of the stories. On Friday, her lawyer told the Victoria state Supreme Court in Melbourne that the articles tarnished Wilson's reputation in Hollywood as a fair and honest person.

Justice John Dixon ordered Wilson to provide the court with her film contracts and evidence of all her earnings since 2011.

The actress, known for her roles in comedies such as "Pitch Perfect" and "Bridesmaids," is seeking unspecified damages from the publisher. She did not appear in court on Friday but is expected to give evidence at the trial, which is scheduled to begin on May 22.

Bauer Media did not immediately respond to a request seeking comment.

'Bobbi Jene,' 'Keep the Change' top Tribeca Film Fest awards

"Keep the Change," a romance about a couple who meet at a community for people on the autistic spectrum, and "Bobbi Jene," a documentary about an American dancer in the Israeli dance company Batsheva, were the top winners at the 16th Tribeca Film Festival.

In the awards, announced in a ceremony Thursday night, Rachel Israel's debut feature, "Keep the Change," won the Founders Award for best narrative feature. The jury called it "a heartwarming, hilarious and consistently surprising reinvention of the New York romantic comedy, which opens a door to a world of vibrant characters not commonly seen on film."

Tribeca co-founder Jane Rosenthal happily noted that all five feature film awards went to movies directed by women. The festival also gives an award, named after Nora Ephron, to a female director. That prize went to Petra Volpe, writer-director of "The Divine Order," a drama about women's suffrage in Switzerland.

"Bobbi Jene," which follows the dancer Bobbi Jene Smith as she moved back the U.S., took the best documentary award and honors for its cinematography and editing. The jury praised director Elvira Lind's film for "pushing nonfiction intimacy to bold new places."

Best international feature went to Elina Psykou's Greek drama "Son of Sofia."

The director of the best narrative short, Kaveh Mazaheri, for "Retouch," said he was unable to attend the festival because of Republican President Donald Trump's proposed travel ban. Mazaheri, an Iranian filmmaker, said in a video message that he and his crew were unable to get visas for Tribeca. He said his absence was "a pity" due to Trump's "fascinating decisions."

Courts have halted Trump's bid to stop immigration from six predominantly Muslim counties: Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. Trump has appealed the courts' rulings, saying he's trying to keep the United States safe.

Former 'Miracle' actor and Army sergeant dies near Seattle

Michael Mantenuto, a former actor best known for his role in the Disney hockey movie "Miracle" and who later joined the Army, has died in the Seattle suburb of Des Moines. He was 35.

The King County Medical Examiner's Office in Seattle said Mantenuto died of a gunshot wound to the head Monday. It ruled his death a suicide.

Des Moines police says he was found in his car at Saltwater State Park in the city Monday afternoon.

Army First Special Forces unit commander Col. Guillaume Beaurpere said in a Facebook post that the Army staff sergeant will be remembered "for his passionate love for his family and his commitment to the health of the force." A spokeswoman with Joint Base-Lewis McChord, where Mantenuto and his family lived, confirmed the post.

Beaurpere said Mantenuto is survived by his wife and two children.

Review: In 'Casting JonBenet,' reliving a tabloid sensation

It has, recently, seemed like all the stories that once dominated our tabloids are now cramming our screens. O.J. Simpson, Anthony Weiner, Amanda Knox. It's as though we're haunted by the ghost of nightly-news past.

That's not say that many of the films haven't been good. Ezra Edelman's "O.J. Made in America" was a brilliant, expansive Tolstoy novel of a film. And, certainly, our media coverage and our collective slavish attention to these cases deserve continual reckoning — even if some of these films trade on the same sensationalism that got the presses humming in the first place.

Kitty Green's "Casting JonBenet," a film that debuts on Netflix on Friday, returns us to the tragic, unsolved case of the child pageant queen JonBenet Ramsey, the blonde and blue-eyed 6-year-old found dead in the basement of her family's Boulder, Colorado, home on December 26, 1996.

The case and its bizarre backdrop — the world of child pageantry — brought endless speculation over her death and who might have done it. Theories abounded over her parents John and Patsy Ramsey, and even their son, Burke, who was 9-years-old at the time.

"Casting JonBenet," however, is not a procedural or an investigation, and it makes no attempt to answer that sad, lurid whodunit from the '90s. Instead, it uses the Ramsey story as a prism for documenting our rabid rumor-mongering and far-away judgments of personalities hoisted onto a media stage. It is, oddly enough, about acting.

Without comment or introduction, "Casting JonBenet" sits us down with a number of Colorado actors who are ostensibly auditioning for a drama based on the case. Speaking into the camera, often in costume, they relate their presumptions about the case and the motivations of their would-be characters. Most are to play either Patsy or John.

All have their suspicions, most pure gossip, others more reflective. The details of the case, including the lengthy ransom note found in the home, leave plenty of room for theories of all kinds. Given the circumstances, one participant notes wisely, "Any theory in this is kind of cracked."

It's a clever premise, but maybe not one that leads in profound directions. That was also an issue with another recent film that attempted to use acting as a method for finding a deeper understanding about an old media sensation. In Antonio Campos' "Kate Plays Christine," the director followed one actress' attempts to get into the head of Christine Chubbuck, the 1970s TV reporter who committed suicide on the air.

Green's film is simpler than Campos', but it arrives somewhere more genuinely moving. Gradually, as the actors get closer to their roles, they begin finding empathy for the Ramseys. They go, tenderly, from hearsay to sympathy, from hypotheses of child pornography rings to speaking about their own related challenges in life. One woman speaks about being sexually abused as a girl. Another talks of alcoholic parents. A man talks about his battle with cancer.

Green culminates "Casting JonBenet" by filling a soundstage of rooms modeled after the Ramseys' house with the many actors all at once performing their version of events. It's a small but affecting moment of compassion, acted out long after all the drama disappeared from the tabloids.

"Casting JonBenet" is an unrated Netflix release. Running time: 80 minutes. Two and a half stars out of four.

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Follow AP Film Writer on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP

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