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‘Black Panther’ raking in the dough, here’s the records the blockbuster has smashed

“Black Panther” has taken theaters by storm, breaking box office goals. 

>> Read more trending news 

Over the Presidents Day weekend, the Marvel flick made a whopping $242 million, much more than the $150 million predicted

That wasn’t the only success the film saw. It also made history for Marvel, on social media and beyond.

Here’s a list of records the flick has broken. 

Biggest February opening weekend

“Deadpool” previously held the record, raking in $132 million over a Friday to Sunday weekend, according to The Numbers, a site that keeps data on films. “Black Panther” scored a $202-million weekend for its Friday-Sunday opening.

>> Related: ‘Black Panther’: Five things to know about the movie’s ties to metro Atlanta

Biggest long holiday opening weekend

“Black Panther” brought in $242 million over the four-day weekend. That’s ahead of “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen,” which made $200 million during it’s Wednesday to Sunday debut, the Numbers said. It also surpasses “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” and “Spider-Man 2,” which both had $180 million six-day Independence Day weekend premieres.

Biggest domestic opening for a black director

This is Ryan Coogler’s third film, behind “Creed” and “Fruitvale Station.” He’s inching closer to F. Gary Gray top selling film “Fate of the Furious,” which earned more than $1 billion worldwideThe Numbers recorded. 

“Black Panther” is also the biggest global debut for a predominantly black cast. “Straight Outta Compton” previously held the record with $66.3 million, according to BuzzFeed.

>> Related: Atlanta airport nonstop flights to Wakanda from Black Panther

5th biggest Friday to Sunday opening weekend of all time

Here’s a quick overview of the top five, according to The Numbers:

  1. “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” - $284 million 
  2. “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” - $220 million
  3. “Jurassic World” - $208 million
  4. “The Avengers” - $207 million
  5. “Black Panther” - $202 million

Most tweeted about film in 2018

It’s garnered more than five million tweets, according to Variety, and inspired several hashtags, including #BlackPantherChallenge, #WhatBlackPantherMeansToMe and #WakandaForever. And if you type “#BlackPanther” a Black Panther mask appears. “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” and “Maze Runner: The Death Cure” took second and third place. 

Ursula K. Le Guin wins posthumous prize for essay writing

The late Ursula K. Le Guin was among the recipients of literary honors presented Tuesday night by PEN America.

The science fiction/fantasy author's "No Time to Spare" won a $10,000 prize for best essay writing. Le Guin died last month at age 88 and her award was announced during a New York ceremony hosted by PEN, the literary and human rights organization.

Poet Layli Long Soldier's debut collection "Whereas" won a $75,000 award for the year's best book. Jenny Zhang's story collection "Sour Heart" received a $25,000 prize for best debut fiction and Alexis Okeowo's "A Moonless, Starless Sky: Ordinary Women and Men Fighting Extremism in Africa" won a $5,000 award given to outstanding works by "authors of color."

"This year's awardees represent the near and far corners of the literary landscape, including writers who have shattered barriers of race, class, ethnicity, geography, gender and sexual orientation to bring stories to new audiences, unlock empathy and take places of distinction within our collective canon," PEN America Executive Director Suzanne Nossel said in a statement. "In times of challenge great literature offers a desperately needed window onto other possibilities."

Lifetime achievement awards had been previously announced and were given to Edmund White, who won the PEN/Saul Bellow Award for American fiction, and Edna O'Brien, winner of the PEN/Nabokov Award for international literature.

California law that blocked posting actors' ages struck down

A California law that sought to prevent age discrimination in the entertainment industry by blocking a popular Hollywood website from posting the ages of actors was struck down Tuesday as unconstitutional.

U.S. District Court Judge Vince Chhabria in San Francisco said the law passed in 2016 violated the First Amendment rights of IMDb.com by preventing it from publishing factual information on its website that provides information about movies, television shows and their casts and crews.

The law was a "direct restriction on speech" and was flawed because it was not narrowly tailored and was "underinclusive" by targeting IMDb, Chhabria said.

The ruling comes as sexual misconduct scandals that erupted in Hollywood last fall and spread more broadly have also brought new attention to pay disparity and other gender-related discrimination in the entertainment industry. Without referencing the #MeToo movement, the judge said the law was misguided because it sought to prevent discrimination of actors who couldn't get parts because of age bias when a bigger problem was sex discrimination.

Materials supporting the law referred to the practice of casting younger women against much older men and also to the lack of women in leading roles and as directors, the judge said.

"This is not so much because the entertainment industry has a problem with older people per se," Chhabria wrote. "Rather, it's a manifestation of the industry's insistence on objectifying women, overvaluing their looks while devaluing everything else."

Supporters of AB 1687 said it was necessary because existing laws were not enough to eliminate age discrimination and older actors were concerned that they would be shut out roles. The law was defended by the state attorney general and Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.

SAG-AFTRA had argued it was OK to ban publishing the ages of actors and other entertainment professionals because those facts facilitated age discrimination. Chhabria noted that was "an argument that, if successful, would enable states to forbid publication of virtually any fact."

The union said it was extremely disappointed with the ruling and would appeal.

"The court unfortunately fails to understand or recognize the massive impact gender and age discrimination has on all working performers," said Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, general counsel of SAG-AFTRA. "That discrimination is facilitated by IMDb's insistence on publishing performers' age information without their consent."

Chhabria had temporarily halted the law from taking effect last year while he heard further arguments in the case.

IMDb, also known as the Internet Movie Database, had argued it shared the goal of preventing age discrimination, but the law would fail to achieve that and instead would "chill free speech and undermine public access to factual information."

Representatives of the lawmaker who authored the bill, the attorney general who defended it or the entertainment website that challenged the law did not immediately provide comment requested by The Associated Press.

Seattle launches season-ticket campaign for new NHL team

Fans longing for a professional hockey team in Seattle will soon be able to put down some money for season tickets.

Mayor Jenny Durkan and the Oak View Group, which is trying to bring an NHL team to the city, announced Tuesday that people can make refundable deposits for season tickets at NHLSeattle.com beginning March 1.

The deposits run $500 per ticket for season tickets or $1,000 per ticket for club season tickets, which are center ice, lower-level tickets.

Billionaire David Bonderman and filmmaker Jerry Bruckheimer are leading the effort to bring a team to Seattle. The group submitted its expansion application with the National Hockey League last week.

Estimated 18.6 million viewers watch Olympics on Monday

Highlights from media coverage of the Pyeongchang Olympics:

RATINGS: An estimated 18.6 million viewers watched the Olympics in prime time Monday on either NBC, the cable network NBCSN or streaming services. That's down 21 percent from the 23.5 million viewers who saw the Olympics on the corresponding Monday night in Sochi four years ago. The 16.3 million who watched the NBC telecast Monday was down 31 percent from Sochi. NBC says the average prime-time viewership for Pyeongchang is 21.1 million, but no individual evening has topped the 20 million figure since last Tuesday.

___

More AP Olympic coverage: https://wintergames.ap.org

Stephen King in tweet slams congressman as "NRA sweetheart"

Author Stephen King on Tuesday called a Maine congressman an "NRA sweetheart" for receiving thousands of dollars from the gun rights advocacy group.

King urged residents in a tweet to not vote for Republican U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin in November, citing his support from the National Rifle Association. The Maine-born novelist has posted several tweets about gun policy since a Florida high school shooting last week that left 17 people dead.

Poliquin adviser Brent Littlefield said the incumbent congressman is a strong Second Amendment supporter and that he will not respond directly to a "Hollywood person."

"There are literally thousands and thousands of National Rifle Association members throughout Maine," Littlefield said. "And Congressman Poliquin has been happy to have those Maine people's support. Maine has a long tradition of responsible and peaceful firearms ownership."

The New York Times has identified Poliquin as a top House recipient of NRA funding. The newspaper last fall said the association reported spending more than $200,000 to help Poliquin's political career, including $68,000 spent attacking his opponents.

Atlanta airport offers nonstop flights to Kingdom of Wakanda

“Black Panther” fans rejoice: The world’s busiest airport is officially offering nonstop flights to the fictional Kingdom of Wakanda. Sort of.

>> Read more trending news 

Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport shared a photo of a terminal showing a 7:30 p.m. departure time to the hidden city on Twitter Monday, following a holiday weekend that brought in $235 million for the film.

The person behind the airport’s Twitter account had answers to all the essential questions.

According to the state Department of Economic Development, 3,100 people working in Georgia’s booming film industry were employed during the shoot, which started in August 2016 and wrapped up in November 2017.

“We’re incredibly proud that Atlanta has such an important role in the film industry,” Reese McCranie, Hartsfield-Jackson’s director of policy and communications, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. McCranie said the airport’s social media team, which he oversees, came up with the idea during a Monday meeting.

Related: ‘Black Panther’ enjoys record weekend at box office

Since its posting, the playful image shared on the airport’s official Instagram and Twitter accounts has reached hundreds of thousands of people.

“We love keeping our customers engaged,” McCraine said. “And it’s important for us to be part of the cultural conversation.”

Unfortunately, the current flight departing from Gate T3 isn’t headed to the Kingdom of Wakanda. But, McCraine said, “we are certainly looking to explore direct service connection. In the meantime, we hope everyone gets to enjoy the movie.”

As for Wakanda, the beauty and wonder of the fictional country was inspired by Africa itself. Before shooting the film, director Ryan Coogler explored the mountainscape of the tiny nation of Lesotho.

Related: 5 things to know about ‘Black Panther’ director Ryan Coogler

According to The Washington Post, Wakanda is actually farther north, along the shores of Lake Victoria. “The country is rendered as a Pan-African pastiche; viewers of Black Panther can point to Ghanaian fabrics and Zulu headdresses, Ethiopian tribal body markings and a prominent Bantu tongue,” the Post reported.

The fictional country was also inspired by several African landmarks, including South Africa’s Three Rondavels (or Three Sisters) and the canyon Orbi Gorge.

George and Amal Clooney donate $500k to march against guns

Actor George Clooney and his wife, Amal Clooney, are donating $500,000 to students organizing nationwide marches against gun violence, and they say they'll also attend next month's planned protests.

In a statement released Tuesday, the couple says they're inspired by the "courage and eloquence" of the survivors-turned-activists from Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Seventeen people were killed at the school and others wounded when a former student went on a rampage with an assault rifle. Students are mobilizing a March 24 march in Washington and elsewhere to urge lawmakers to enact tougher gun control.

The Clooneys say they're donating the money in the names of their eight-month-old twins Ella and Alexander. The couple also says the family plans to "stand side by side" with students next month.

JAY-Z leaves $11,000 tip on $80,000 bar tab for friend’s birthday celebration

JAY-Z reportedly spent big at a New York bar over the weekend.

According to the New York Post’s Page Six, the rapper and father of three spent a combined $110,000 at three locations in the city while celebrating Roc Nation Sports president Juan “OG” Perez, who is also a close friend of Hov.

>> Read more trending news 

Although his wife, Beyonce, daughter, Blue and in-laws, Tina Knowles Lawson and Richard Lawson, were at the NBA All-Star Game, Jay was reportedly at Zuma, a high-end Japanese restaurant, for dinner. He and his friends, other Roc Nation executives, spent about $13,000, according to Page Six.

The tabloid also reported that the group later went to Manhattan’s Made in Mexico Mexican restaurant and spent $9,000 on drinks.

The last stop was Playroom nightclub, where Page Six reported Jay was seen handing out bottles of his own Ace of Spades Champagne to tables. His group paid full price for 40 bottles of the drink.

People reported that a server posted a photo of the tab at Playroom, showing the bottles totaled more than $80,000. The group left an $11,100 tip.

Toni Braxton confirms engagement to Birdman

After months of speculation, Toni Braxton has confirmed she is engaged to rapper Birdman.

In a trailer for the singer’s upcoming season of “Braxton Family Values,” Braxton tells her sisters, “I have an announcement to make: I’m engaged!”

>> Read more trending news 

The reality TV show looks at Braxton’s life with her sisters, Trina, Towanda, Tamar and their mother, Evelyn.

E! News reported that Birdman and Braxton met in 2002 and were reported as an item in May 2016. They made their public debut as a couple in June of that year at the BET Awards.

On Wednesday, Birdman, born Bryan Williams, told Wendy Williams he was not married to Braxton "yet."

“That's my girl, my friend, my family,” Birdman told Williams. “That’s my love, my soldier, my life… she's my life. I love her to death.”

This is the second marriage for Braxton, who was married to Keri Lewis from 2001-2013. She has two sons from that marriage: Denim Cole Braxton-Lewis, 16, and Diezel Ky Braxton-Lewis, 14. Birdman has two adult children, Bryan Williams Jr. and Bria Williams, from a previous relationship.

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