Avengers opens with $630 mn, smashing global record

This image released by Marvel Studios shows, front row from left, Danai Gurira, Chadwick Boseman, Chris Evans, Scarlet Johansson and Sebastian Stan in a scene from “Avengers: Infinity War.” (Marvel Studios via AP)
Updated 30 April 2018
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Avengers opens with $630 mn, smashing global record

LOS ANGELES: “Avengers: Infinity War” took in $630 million in its first weekend, the highest global opening of all time, industry estimates showed on Sunday.
“The latest Marvel juggernaut... opened with $630M worldwide, making it the largest global weekend tally in the history of film, and this was done without China,” which has a later opening, industry tracker Exhibitor Relations said.
That topped “The Fate of the Furious,” the eighth installment of the high-octane action series starring Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson and Michelle Rodriquez that opened with more than $530 million globally in 2017.
“Infinity War,” which features more than two dozen superheroes fighting to save the universe, also broke the record for highest North American opening weekend, raking in $250 million at US and Canadian box offices.
That beat “The Force Awakens,” the seventh film in the long-running “Star Wars” space saga that made $248 million in its opening weekend in 2015.
“Infinity War” is the 19th film in the so-called Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), combining a whopping nine franchises and a cast list that reads like a who’s who of Hollywood’s A-list.
Robert Downey Jr dons the red and gold metal suit once again as Iron Man; Benedict Cumberbatch is Doctor Strange; Scarlett Johansson is back as Black Widow; and Australia’s Chris Hemsworth is Thor.
Also back for more? Black Panther — the Marvel breakout of the year after the massive opening of the standalone pic in February, Captain America, the Hulk, Spider-Man, Hawkeye, the Guardians of the Galaxy and their assorted allies.
Their mission? To prevent the powerful purple alien Thanos (Josh Brolin) from destroying the universe.
“We took a picture of every single person whose character has been in the MCU. We hung it up on a wall all around us,” co-director Anthony Russo, who helms the pic with his brother Joe, told reporters ahead of the film’s release.
“We basically spent months and months and months talking about where we could go with each character, how we could draw them through the story,” he added.
“Every one of these characters... has been on a very specific journey through the MCU to arrive at this moment.”
This is the third “Avengers” film, with the final, untitled saga set for next year.
An important source of inspiration is the Marvel canon — the storylines developed over decades in the original comic books.
“Infinity War” is drawn from the “Infinity Gauntlet” series of the early 1990s.
“It starts with those comics and us beginning to rip pages out or rip copies of pages out and put them on the walls and start to be inspired,” explains Kevin Feige, the president of Marvel Studios, which is owned by Disney.
“It’s a North Star for us as we lead these giant productions into reality.”
In the movie’s trailer, Gamora (Zoe Saldana) — Thanos’s daughter, of sorts — explains that the villain believes that if he annihilates half of the universe, he can save the other half.
He needs the so-called Infinity Stones to do it. So, the heroes need to keep him from getting them.
The film cost an eye-watering $300 million to make, according to Hollywood media.


Cirque du Soleil in Saudi Arabia: The perfect tribute to a rich culture

Updated 25 September 2018
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Cirque du Soleil in Saudi Arabia: The perfect tribute to a rich culture

  • Cirque du Soleil created a spectacular show in Riyadh
  • They paid tribute to Saudi culture and heritage

RIYADH: The circus — a place that is almost synonymous with joy and delight. Since time immemorial, circuses have been places of celebration and glee, and few as much as the premier name in the industry: Cirque du Soleil.

The show has had a devoted fan in me since 2006, when I attended a performance of their production “Quidam” and my definition of the word “circus” was turned upside-down. Their unique approach to art, performance, costumes and music has secured their status as a household name and a benchmark for all other circus shows to be measured against.

On Sunday night, Saudi Arabia’s National Day, the circus brought their incredible acrobatics to Riyadh’s King Fahad Stadium and it turned out to be a night to remember.



Prior to the event, Cirque’s Vice President of Creation Daniel Fortin offered little in the way of spoilers but hinted that we would see something the likes of which we never had before. With the promises of exclusive new acts, music, costumes and stage tricks piquing my excitement, I joined a throng of green-and white-clad spectators flooding the stadium. Performing to a sold-out crowd, the show kicked off at exactly 8.30 p.m. and the magic truly began.

Barely five minutes into the show, something stole over me as I settled into the rhythm of the music, something I saw flickering over the faces of those in the crowd around me: Recognition. We were seeing ourselves, our identity, echoed back at us, but with a twist. We saw ourselves through someone else’s eyes — someone respectful and admiring.



As a Saudi youth today, it has become an unfortunately common occurrence to face negativity from various outsiders, born of ignorance or fear. It has become dreary and repetitive to have to continually defend my people and my culture from those who have no wish to understand us.

But at this show? I saw my country once more through the eyes of an outsider, but this time, it was different. I saw my culture and my heritage lauded, celebrated, delicately fused with that tangible Cirque du Soleil flair. The attention to detail was careful, almost loving, but also daring and outlandish. It was a glorious fusion of classic Saudi aesthetics with the ethereal, bizarre beauty of Cirque du Soleil.


The symbolism was not always obvious, sometimes it was subtle, constrained to the beat of a drum or hidden in a snatch of song. Other times, it was blatant and bold, in the sloping hump of an elegantly clumsy camel costume, or the billowing of the Bedouin Big Top in the gentle breeze. And yet, unmistakeably, I felt the Saudi influences in every note of the performance. It felt like an homage, and yet it did nothing to diminish its own identity. It remained unquestionably a Cirque du Soleil performance, only below the usual circus frippery, there was a ribbon of something else that lay coiled beneath the surface. Something bright, vibrant green. Saudi green.

The spectacle rounded off with an astonishing display of fireworks, so plentiful that for a moment, the sky glowed bright as day. To me, each one felt like a promise fulfilled. A dream achieved. A miracle witnessed. Here, on my own home soil, it was the perfect tribute to a rich and vivid culture.