Category: Box Office

My movie column, about how tired everyone is of all the sequels this summer, is now up!

Read it here.


Franchise fatigue hits Transformers: The Last Knight. Opens at $69 million.

The summer movie box office has not been kind to a lot of familiar franchises and sequels. The two big hits of this summer so far have been Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (now at $380 million domestic) and Wonder Woman ($318 million). Most of the others have ranged from mildly underperforming, to big flops in terms of gross. 

Just now, I read a report in Variety that said Transformers: The Last Knight opened in first place this weekend with a haul of $69 million. Normally, any studio ought to be pleased with a haul like that, but this is the worst domestic opening for this franchise in years, maybe even ever if this number holds up, after opening hauls around $100 million for previous efforts. 

The Variety article was blaming franchise fatigue, yet again, which doesn’t surprise me. Surely, people have got to be tired of this god-awful series by now. Others are blaming poor word of mouth due to bad Rotten Tomatoes scores, which would be the first time in human history that a bad Rotten Tomatoes score made any negative impact at all on ticket sales for any Transformers movie. 

Oh, well, it sounds like the international box office will save this particular effort and give the folks at Paramount enough reason to serve up Transformers 6. 

Cars 3 races to $53.5 million on Father’s Day weekend!

Box office news: Cars 3 has halted Wonder Woman’s two-week reign atop the domestic box office. Lightning McQueen and the rest of the race cars finished with $53.5 million to the DC superheroine’s $40.8 million.

You’d think Disney would be pleased. Unfortunately, this is the worst opening ever for a Cars movie. The first Cars opened to a little over $60 million and then the sequel Cars 2 got $66 million! Maybe people are finally believing the many critics of this series, who have continually showed little enthusiasm for this Pixar line of animated movies compared to others from the studio. Then again, maybe people are simply bored with sequels in general. Or maybe people are bored with all things NASCAR. I dunno what the deal is. 

Anyway, it could’ve been better. That’s all for the moment.

Box office news: this past weekend was the slowest of the year

I wasn’t at the movies this weekend, and based on the weekend results, neither were most of you.

Guardians of the Galaxy hauled in just $10.16 million, and that was enough to win the box office. As I said before, welcome to the dead season at the cinemas.

It’s official! This is worst summer at the box office since 2006.

Read this article at the Guardian which confirms what I have said already — this is officially the worst summer at the box office since 2006. Overall box office for the summer is down 15 percent from last year.

Well, what do you expect when you mainly serve up the same old junk people have come to expect? Hopefully, Hollywood learned some lessons from this experience.

It was too much to ask of Guardians of the Galaxy to save the summer all by itself. It couldn’t do it despite a haul so far of almost $275 million that makes it the summer box office champ, not to mention another winning $16.3 million haul this past weekend.

Now we are into September, a month where North Americans traditionally prefer to spend their weekends watching football rather than going to the movies. That is exactly what I am spending this Labor Day, or “Labour” Day here in Canada, doing.

My movie column on the not-so-hot Summer Box Office of 2014 is now up!

Big weekend for Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy: $94 million

Guardians of the Galaxy opens to Friday haul of almost $38 mil

Not much interest in Cameron Diaz and her ‘Sex Tape’


It was the usual business we have come to expect this past weekend for the movies, with Dawn of the Planet of the Apes finishing first again.

Meanwhile that supposed comedy Sex Tape starring Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel bombed with the critics and audiences last weekend. It only mustered $15 million for a fourth place domestic weekend.

Blamed heavily by all the experts were all the religious-type people who were freaked out by any movie with “sex” in the title. The studio — Sony –should have known this was the Uptight States of America they were dealing with and should have planned accordingly, and changed the title! Even a chimpanzee would have known that.

Also, I think audiences were wise to all the shameless hype out there about how Cameron Diaz was supposed to be naked in the movie. People figured the hype was all exaggerated. Besides, any time you hear stuff like that, it’s a sure sign that not only are the naked scenes not worth the money, but neither is the whole rest of the movie. It usually is a sure sign of a bad stunt. That is all that needs to be said about that.

And desperation continues to be the word to use about Hollywood’s reaction to the overall summer box office. Read a report in Variety how industry people are all hoping for Guardians of the Galaxy to bail the studios out.

As I have said before, good luck with that.

“Apes” net $73 mil, but summer box office is still a dud

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes was a big hit at the box office and with the critics as well this weekend, with a domestic haul of $73 million to crush the weekend box office.

As expected, though, while it was a strong showing by the Apes, it was still nowhere near enough to save the summer for Hollywood. The weekend box office is down 24 percent from a year ago, says the Hollywood Reporter.

I guess it is now entirely up to Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy to save Hollywood now, eh, when it rolls out August 1? Again, good luck with that.

Even a chimp could predict the summer box office would be down almost 20 percent! Look at all this junk on the screens! (Tammy, etc.)

Read a story at Variety about how the summer box office is down 20 percent. Even a chimpanzee could have predicted that! In fact, it is quite telling that the Variety article refers to people hoping that Dawn of the Planet of the Apes will bail the entire summer box office out and save Hollywood. Good luck with that.

When I had looked at the potential summer movies for my summer preview column, even I said at the time there was not much out there that would really excite people — just a lot of sequels and retreads. And that is exactly the problem. We have a real shortage of potential blockbuster $500 million-type domestic hits this summer, a shortage of the type of product that could really excite the masses on the scale of a Dark Knight or an Avengers.

Instead, we are getting nonsense like Tammy, that new Melissa McCarthy effort, which got pummeled by the critics and did not even win the box office this weekend, losing to Transformers 4.

This, my friends, is why the cinemas are not as filled as they ought to be — because we are being force-fed this boring stuff. That, plus the ticket prices being what they are, are all cutting into the attendance. Sorry, but I am just calling it as I see it right now. People just do not have a compelling reason to shell out the cash at the cinemas, and I doubt the return of the Apes will change that next week.

Transformers: Age of Extinction box office proves franchise is not extinct


Well, it seems clear based on the $100 mil domestic/$300 mil international showing of Transformers: Age of Extinction that the American appetite for the Transformers franchise — or, for that matter, total crap at the theatres — remains strong.

I think that sums up my thoughts on the matter.

22 Jump Street slays the Dragon in a box office battle of the sequels

Well, my predictions for the summer box office are completely shot today as 22 Jump Street took down How To Train Your Dragon 2, by a $57 million to $49 million count.
Story here.

As for the overall summer race, the top grosser this summer so far is X Men: Days of Future Past which is now over $200 million domestic gross.

Weekend box office: it’s Tom Cruise’s fault!! ‘Edge of Tomorrow’ finishes in third place

Honestly, I thought the new Tom Cruise sci-fi action movie Edge of Tomorrow would do much, much better at the box office this past weekend than it did.

But it only did $29 million in weekend business, well back of The Fault in Our Stars in first place at $48 million. Maleficent, which won last weekend, finished second at $33 million.

I don’t get it. The Fault in Our Stars looks incredibly weepy-looking, but I guess that is what moviegoers in North America want. I’ll tell you what it is they don’t want right now — it’s Tom Cruise. That’s my theory.

And I’ll tell you who voters don’t want — Eric Cantor, the USA House Majority leader, who lost his Virginia congressional primary to his Tea Party opponent in a huge upset tonight. I’ll talk some more about that huge shocker tomorrow.

Godzilla has met his match in X-Men: Days of Future Past


It is a $111 million haul for the four-day Memorial Day weekend for X-Men: Days of Future Past . The big green monster was knocked to second, while Adam Sandler and his new movie Blended just got killed in third.

The story here.


I spent Day Two of my much-needed four-day long weekend at the movies today in the big city watching Godzilla in 3D. All I have to say is that any serious fan of monster movies will enjoy this.

For an early look at its expected huge $90 million-plus box office weekend opening, here’s the writeup at Forbes. That is it for now.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 hauls in $92 million

My 2014 Summer Box Office Preview is now up

Box office recap: Johnny Depp is clearly no Captain America

Entertainment update: Captain America wins again, and other stuff

Just dumping all the latest movie and TV news into this post here. Heard that Captain America: The Winter Soldier took home the domestic box office for a second weekend, with $41.3 million which was just ahead of Rio 2.

And even though it was the beginning of the final Mad Men season last night, it was no match to the much bigger audience of HBO’s Game of Thrones.

Also, the MTV Movie Awards were last night.

Count on me to keep you informed on what is really important, folks.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier sets April box office record


I’m bored, so I am posting the box office results. It looks like Captain America: The Winter Soldier had a massive domestic weekend, hauling in $96.2 million. That sets an April record, according to Box Office Mojo, beating Fast Five by $10 million.

This flick also took in an international haul of $207 million including a $39 million weekend in China. So the good times roll on for the Marvel franchise and for all these Avengers characters. They truly are a money train.

This good result will surely get people pumped up for the arrival of “blockbuster summer movie season” which normally starts in May, but which clearly is off to an early start based on this release.

Sad news, Muppet fans: Muppets Most Wanted clobbered by Divergent in weekend box office results

It seemed like the movies had all gone Retro lately, bringing back my favorite childhood TV characters at once. Fresh off of Mr. Peabody and Sherman comes the Muppets, again.

Much as I love Kermit, Miss Piggy, Gonzo and the rest of these lunatics, I figure I am way too old for their schtick, so I didn’t go to the new movie Muppets Most Wanted which opened this weekend.

Apparently, neither did most of you.

This Muppet sequel only took in a lousy $16.5 million domestic haul, while its rival Divergent took in $56 million to win the weekend.

The last Muppet feature, titled The Muppets, also didn’t set the world on fire with its $88 million domestic haul. This was in spite of the fact that the critics absolutely loved the movie. I was surprised at the time because I thought all these Muppets fans would come out of the woodwork and that The Muppets would totally clean up at the box office. It did not.

So given that backdrop, I guess I should not be surprised by the domestic haul this time. The Muppets are great, but they seem more of a cult happening these days rather than something appealing to the masses. Or maybe it’s simply a case where we Muppet fans are simply too old to be caught dead in any movie theatre showing the Muppets.

Mr. Peabody and Sherman wins the weekend box office

I was really, really happy to see Mr. Peabody and Sherman win the weekend box office in its second week.

The reason is entirely nostalgia driven. I was a big fan of the Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons that aired on American cable TV when I was a kid, so I knew all about Peabody and Sherman. Also, this movie has gotten good notices over at Rotten Tomatoes, getting 78 percent Fresh at the latest report, so all in all I am happy about it. Any success in reviving the Jay Ward characters is fine by me.

My look back at 2013 at the domestic box office is now up


Anchorman2To be really honest I thought Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues would do better business than $26 million this weekend. It ended up getting beat by The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.

Overall, it’s a $40 million five-day domestic haul for Ron Burgundy and crew, which doesn’t seem like a blockbuster performance, but as Forbes’ Scott Mendelson points out, a lot of Christmas releases end up having a lot of “legs.” 

As an aside — it just seems to me as if there is a larger-than-usual contingent of movies in wide release this week that I’d be interested in seeing — American Hustle, The Wolf of Wall Street, and others.


The-Hunger-Games-Catching-Fire-2013-movie-posterLost in all my excitement over the Grey Cup football weekend was the box office weekend for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.

It opened last weekend to a strong $158.1 million performance and set a number of records: bigger November opening ever, best 2D open, and 4th biggest opening weekend ever among them. It should be noted that Iron Man 3‘s weekend opening in May was still better, at $174 mil.

Whether this latest Hunger Games sequel has what it takes to overtake Iron Man 3 in the long run remains to be seen. Right now, though, it’s doing great business. It topped $109.9 million for the Wednesday-through-Sunday period and is now at $296 million domestic, so this movie has a shot at winning the entire domestic box office race for the year. A real shot.

Don’t believe these articles from folks arguing that The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is somehow some sort of flop. Folks, if this movie is a flop, then all of them are.

Of course, there remains a possibility that another movie on the horizon could top all of them and be the 2013 box office champ. I am talking, of course, about Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues.

It is getting absolute saturation promotion just about everywhere you look, with Will Ferrell’s Dodge ads and nonstop promotional appearances. The anticipation for the sequel, too, is immense.

I’ll have more to say about Anchorman 2, and in particular Ron Burgundy, in a moment.


GravityThe opening weekend for the new sci-fi thriller Gravity starring George Clooney and Sandra Bullock was a big one indeed — $55 million domestic, in fact, for one of the best October opens in years. In fact, it is a record, beating the $52 million Paranormal Activity 3 recorded in 2011.

This is proof that if you put a movie in there that people will want to watch, people will go see it in spite of all the hype about how nobody wants to see movies in October.

I’m convinced the real reason movies don’t do well in October is usually because of widespread sports competition — particularly from football season. Too many kids are going to too many high school football games on Friday, and too many college games on Saturdays. On top of that, too many adults are watching these games, too. Anyway, Gravity’s showing is proof a movie can do well in spite of all that competition.

I notice it was a particularly bad weekend for Runner Runner, that new poker-themed movie starring Ben Affleck, Justin Timberlake and Gemma Arterton . Despite the presence of all these cool people, the movie only opened to $7.6 million — probably because its main potential audience, poker players, are all in exile outside the USA. No wonder the box office was so bad. (Then again, I read a lot of poker players loathed the movie from the get-go, anyway.)

Also, a bad Rotten Tomatoes score of 8 percent (!!!!!) did not help one bit. In any event it looks like Runner Runner is definitely a flop. (Get it?)

Reminds me a little of what Ron Howard’s much better movie Rush, about the 1976 Formula 1 season, encountered. They only opened to around $10 million last weekend, and the reason for the unimpressive showing is pretty obvious — nobody in the USA cares about Formula 1.

Why is it that all the coolest activities — Formula 1, poker, etcetera — fall flat with so many Americans? I don’t get it. Maybe they just would rather watch football.

AS AN ASIDE — my Cairns on Cinema wrapup of the summer movie season and look at the fall season is now up.



I thought I was done writing about flops at the cinemas, but it has happened againThe Smurfs 2 goes down to defeat, and there aren’t creatures more deserving than these fools.

According to Deadline Hollywood, smurfs-2-posterThe Smurfs 2 raked in $18 million on the weekend for a total so far of $27 million, good only for third place. (2 Guns led the way at $27 million for the weekend, followed by The Wolverine at under $22 million.)

Deadline Hollywood is claiming people are surprised by the bad Smurfs 2 showing, but frankly I’m not — not after it scored 12 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. The first Smurfs movie wasn’t too good either, and I don’t know too many people who even like these blue creatures.

Heck, the Smurfs were around when I was a kid and I didn’t like them back then, either. They were the reason why I quit watching Saturday morning cartoons. But I digress.

I think this is a case of Hollywood throwing more junk at the public and expecting the gullible masses to hand over the money, as usual. Except this time, family audiences got wise and refused to spend their hard-earned cash on junk entertainment. Many kids probably told their parents they thought the Smurfs were terrible and didn’t want to see it.

Memo to Hollywood: next time, provide the public with something good and original instead of this sequel Smurfs junk. This movie, like lots of movies this summer, was a waste of money for Hollywood.

The last year I remember that was loaded with so many summer movie flops was 2006. What a flop-filled summer it has been at the box office, folks. And it’s only going to get worse now that we are into August.


Well, for the last few weeks we have had some clear big hits (Man of Steel, Despicable Me 2) and some clear-cut flops (The Lone Ranger, R.I.P.D at the movie box office.

This week we have The Wolverine, one of the X-Men spinoffs, and nobody knows what to make of it. It made $55 million to easily finish in first place — which is good, right? Except some people think maybe it should have done better.

Box office pundit Scott Mendelson at Forbes deconstructs what really went down this weekend and gives his thoughts on what this whole box-office result ultimately means for The Wolverine.


This dog-eat-dog summer at the movie box office has taken down more victims. This week’s biggest loser isn’t even a movie, but an actor. Ryan Reynolds. 

He was in two of the major big-budget releases that were due out this past weekend. I noticed Variety did a big piece on Reynolds this past week, which basically declared that both his movies were about to tank. They were right. 

One was the animated Turbo from DreamWorks Animation, about a snail with a need for speed. Unfortunately, Turbo finished behind The Conjuring ($39 mil) and Despicable Me 2 ($25 mil), in third place with a $21 million domestic weekend and a $31 million haul since opening last Wednesday.


Still, it is a lot better showing than R.I.P.D. that not only starred Reynolds but also Jeff Bridges. It cost upwards of between $130 and $180 million dollars, based on who you believe, and was absolutely killed by the film critics. Its score at Rotten Tomatoes was an absolutely awful 11 percent. Its domestic take at the movie theaters was even worse, if you can believe it — seventh place with a haul of $13.1 million!!!

That would make Ryan Reynolds a double-loser this weekend at the box office — although I’m sure that there are some wiseguys out there who are going to claim that Reynolds actually isn’t a loser this weekend at all, because the combined five-day haul of both his movies was $44 million. His movies may have tanked, but it doesn’t matter because Ryan Reynolds still ended up No. 1  at the box office!

The latest box-office showings come on the heels of the continued disappointing Pacific Rim numbers, with their domestic haul now at $68.5 million.

I noticed this story in The Telegraph with the typical alarmist headlines we’ve come to expect from the British media, claiming “Hollywood facing summer crisis with multiple big budget flops.”

That is way too strong a statement, because in reality the box office has been very busy this summer. People have been flocking to the movies; the problem is it has been unusually competitive summer week in and week out lately, and not every movie can do good business under these circumstances. This weekend alone saw four new movies rolling out alone. On top of that, Turbo still had to contend with the popular Despicable Me 2 as animated competition. That had to cut into Turbo’s business.

I think both Pacific Rim and Turbo would have been better off if they had been released at a completely different time of year with less competition — perhaps March or sometime like that. Both those movies would have looked pretty good compared to the rest of the junk that usually occupies theatres in the spring, and I think they would have done a bit better business.

But R.I.P.D. — that movie would have been hopeless no matter what time of year it was released. The people who green-lighted that absolute mess have lots of explaining to do today.



Just wanted to let you know the box office projections continue to look dire for Pacific Rim. Pacific Rim

That’s that Guillermo del Toro monsters-versus-robots effort made for a cost of upwards of $185 million. But Variety is reporting that studio executives are bracing for a really bad weekend ahead, and a terrible haul of $25 to $35 million.

It looks like the inane-looking Grown Ups 2 will finish ahead of it. Honestly, I don’t find this to be good news at all. If this result does transpire at the weekend box office, that will truly be the end of the human race as we know it.


WhiteHouseDownWe’re back with a holiday edition of the Box Office report for this week, and while it was fun while it lasted, unfortunately we are now back to reporting on flops.

White House Down, starring Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx, is the latest loser, finishing fourth at $26 million this past weekend June 28-30. Instead, it was Monsters University that roared to another first-place finish at $46 million. The buddy-girl-action-movie The Heat with Melissa McCarthy and Sandra Bullock was second at $40 million. White House Down couldn’t even beat World War Z either at $29.8 million.

The reason why White House Down tanked is obvious — the movie didn’t look that original. In fact, it WASN’T original at all! Everyone was comparing it to Olympus Has Fallen which basically had the same plot about the US President being under attack.

Also, I notice the critics’ reaction wasn’t so hot. In fact, Richard Roeper of ReelzChannel went so far as to give this movie an “F”. So much for White House Down. It’s too bad, too, because I was hoping there would be at least one decent action flick for us guys to see this summer. Based on what Roeper is saying, this ain’t it.

We are now seeing some new mid-week releases roll out in time for the July 4 holiday long weekend, and based on the preliminary estimates it looks like Despicable Me 2 is going to be a sure winner and The Lone Ranger a sure loser.

The former should open to a healthy $35 million today while the latter, made for upwards of $250 million dollars, is projected at $15 million for today and a dismal $60 million over five days.

Well, so much for The Lone Ranger, but I thought the whole idea for this movie was kind of passe anyway. If I were a kid I’d choose Despicable Me 2 over The Lone Ranger any day of the week. That’s all for now.


MonstersUniversityThis past weekend featured the first real all-out battle at the domestic box office this summer. In the end it was Pixar’s Monsters University that took in $82 million while the Brad Pitt zombie flick World War Z took in $66 million on the weekend.

This is the second-highest Pixar opening ever, by the way, behind Toy Story 3 from 2010. As for World War Z, it did as well as it did despite tons of bad press about the movie’s production, what with an entire third-act reshoot and so on. Anyway, things have worked out.

Big loser in all this is Man of Steel, who are one and done as leaders of the box office. It took a 65 percent drop from last weekend which puts a $300 million domestic haul in jeopardy. So much for Superman’s shot at winning the summer box office. It looks like Iron Man 3 is a sure winner of that title unless some miracle happens.

That is it for now — just my attempt to get your mind off all the rest of the troubles in the world today.


Man of SteelAfter spending the past two weeks reporting on flops, we don’t have any of those worries this time for Man of Steel. It opens to $128.6 million — which includes $116.6 million from the three-day weekend plus another $12 million from 7pm showings on Thursday night.

That makes it a June weekend record for Man of Steel. In fact, it beat out the $110 million opening June record for Toy Story 3 from 2010, and Toy Story 3 went on to win the box office for the whole year. I still don’t think that’s going to be possible for Man of Steel, but still, it gives you a sense of how impressive the business was for this movie at the cinemas.

Also, the counter-programming of the raunchy comedy This Is the End brought in $33 mil over five days after opening last Wednesday.

All in all, not a shabby weekend at all at your local theatres. You might say it was a “super” weekend.


The flops just keep on coming. Fresh off last week’s After Earth drubbing comes word The Internship, the Vince Vaughn-Owen Wilson reunion, took in a miserable $17 million.

Instead, it is the horror flick The Purge starriTheInternshipng Ethan Hawke and Lena Headey that took top honors for the domestic box office on the weekend, raking in $34 million. The Internship crashed all the way down to fourth place.

My thought is that the reason The Internship tanked is because the fans were wise to what was going on. They saw this vehicle as nothing more than an excuse by Hollywood executives to team up Vaughn and Wilson again, figuring all they needed to do was bring them back and then sit back and wait for all the cash to roll in.

You need to do more than that for a movie to be a hit, folks — like have a script that’s actually funny, for one thing.

If this movie was going to be the type of entertainment Wedding Crashers was, I would have rushed to see it. Absolutely. But from what I’ve read and seen, this effort sounds nothing like Wedding Crashers. It can be summed up by the words: “Rated PG-13.” Thanks for that information, MPAA.

The Internship has had middling reviews from the get-go and not such enthusiastic word of mouth, either  — the usual suspects. So we really shouldn’t be surprised at the end of the day.

Anyway, that’s that for this weekend, and we’ll see what goes down this weekend with Man of Steel.


We now have our first surprise box office bomb of theAfter Earth summer movie season. The Will Smith-Jaden Smith effort After Earth came in third for $27 million at the domestic box office, well behind the $34.5 million of Fast & Furious 6 (itself a massive 65 percent drop from last weekend) and even behind the $28 million of Now You See Me.

No doubt hurting the cause is generally unenthusiastic word of mouth and bad reviews from the critics, with After Earth scoring an awful 12 percent at Rotten Tomatoes. Even the lousy The Hangover Part III could do better than that.

It used to be that any movie Will Smith was involved with would automatically dominate the box office. Not anymore, it seems.

In other news, Iron Man 3 is approaching $400 million domestic (just $15 million short after this weekend) and remains on track towards winning the box office for the entire summer. The only movie capable of topping it right now appears to be Man of Steel, but I’ve already expressed doubts about that. It opens wide on June 14.


Blue is the Warmest Colour, by the way, really has the right title given its “blue” content, ie. graphic lesbian sex scenes. Expect the conservative types to go crazy. Arrgh!

As for Fast & Furious 6, it sent The Hangover Part III to the cleaners by raking in almost $100 million Friday to Sunday for the second-biggest opening of the summer, behind only Iron Man 3. My prediction that Iron Man 3 would win the summer box office seems, so far, to be holding up. The only movie that I think has any shot of taking it down is Man of Steel, and as I stated earlier, I have my doubts.

Speaking of The Hangover Part III, film critic Christy Lemire put up this review of the flick for the Associated Press, and I thought I would link to it because it was her very last review for the wire service, as she and colleague David Germain have resigned.


Enough about tornado coverage. My summer box office forecast is up.

It was written just before Star Trek Into Darkness opened this past weekend and made $84 million over four days. So it looks like I’m already probably wrong yet again, but for what it’s worth you can check out my predictions anyway. Hopefully, that will help you get your mind off current world events.