Latest ‘Men in Black’ leads box office but fails to wow critics

Chris Hemsworth, foreground, and Tessa Thompson star in Columbia Pictures’ ‘Men in Black: International’ which took in an estimated $28.5 million in North American box offices over the weekend. (Columbia Pictures via AP)
Updated 17 June 2019
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Latest ‘Men in Black’ leads box office but fails to wow critics

  • Its box-office take for the three-day weekend fell short of ‘even the slimmest of studio expectations’

LOS ANGELES: “Men in Black: International” led North American box offices over the weekend, but the new sci-fi comedy was not as far into the black as Sony would have liked, taking in an estimated $28.5 million, industry watcher Exhibitor Relations reported.
In this spinoff to the three earlier “Men in Black” installments, the roles of black-suited alien-fighters pass from their originators, Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, to the younger Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson. Liam Neeson and Emma Thompson also star.
Critics liked the chemistry of the two leads but gave the movie a lukewarm rating of only 24 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. Its box-office take for the three-day weekend fell short of “even the slimmest of studio expectations,” website BoxOfficeMojo reported.
But as suggested by its title, the film, shot in five countries, is doing better overseas, with earnings of $73 million to date.
In second spot was last weekend’s leader, “The Secret Life of Pets 2” from Universal, at $23.8 million. This sequel features the voices of Kevin Hart, Tiffany Haddish and Patton Oswalt in another tale of the mischief pets get into when their owners are away.
In third, for the second week, was Disney’s live-action “Aladdin,” at $16.7 million. It stars Will Smith as the genie and Mena Massoud as the wily title character craving the attention of the enticing Jasmine (Naomi Scott).
Slipping two spots to fourth place was “X-Men: Dark Phoenix,” at $9 million. In what is said to be the final installment in the X-men series, the lead characters face the fierce superhuman Phoenix after a space mission goes awry. The film stars James McAvoy, Sophie Turner, Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Fassbender and Jessica Chastain.
And in fifth, for the second week, was Paramount’s “Rocketman,” at $8.8 million. Taron Egerton stars in the biopic dramatizing the life of superstar singer Elton John.
Rounding out the weekend’s top 10 were:
“Shaft” ($8.3 million)
“Godzilla: King of the Monsters” ($8.1 million)
“John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum” ($6.1 million)
“Late Night” ($5.1 million)
“Ma” ($3.6 million)


Cliff divers leap from Beirut landmark in international tour

Updated 16 July 2019
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Cliff divers leap from Beirut landmark in international tour

  • The competition was the fifth of this year’s Red Bull Cliff Diving Series that began its 11th season in April
  • Raouche Rock has featured on the back of postcards, on stamps, in family photographs and many Arabic songs and films

BEIRUT: Cliff divers used to competing in isolated spots have been leaping into the Mediterranean in bustling Beirut, the first time the Lebanese capital’s landmark Raouche Rock has hosted an international contest.
The towering rock, also known as Pigeons Rock, is an enduring symbol of a city where many other landmarks were destroyed by the 1975-90 civil war.
“Normally when we have cliffs like this, it is in the middle of nowhere. I have never been to a place with an amazing cliff right in the city center,” said Gary Hunt, a Briton who won the men’s competition on Sunday.
The competition was the fifth of this year’s Red Bull Cliff Diving Series that began its 11th season in April on El Nido island in the Philippines and winds up in Bilbao, Spain in September.
Hunt became the first diver in the series history to receive a perfect 10 score from each of the five judges at Sunday’s competition.
In the women’s contest, Australia’s Rhiannan Iffland, 27, scored her sixth consecutive win of this series.
“It doesn’t matter how many times you perform a dive. You still get up there 22 meters (72 feet) high and you still have all these negative emotions,” said Iffland, who has been diving since she was nine.
“To overcome that fear is something that I cannot express.”
Raouche Rock has featured on the back of postcards, on stamps, in family photographs and many Arabic songs and films.
Daring Lebanese have leapt from the rock for generations. Some have also committed suicide from it.
Hundreds of spectators watched the competition, which ended on Sunday, from the adjacent rocks and promenade.
’Young again’
Among them was 63-year-old fisherman Mohamed Itani, who said he had jumped off the cliff 36 times over the years for fun. “It is beautiful,” said Itani as he watched the divers. “It makes me feel young again.”
Judges mark the divers on their take-off and entry to the water and number of twists, somersaults and position in the air.
Hunt, 35, said he used to count to three just before he jumped but now just takes two breaths: one when he lifts his arms up and one when he leaps.
“There are three seconds in that air where you are just in total control. Your brain and your body decide what you do and you are completely free,” he said.
Itani described a similar feeling. “You’re like an eagle in the air,” he said.