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The Fate of the Furious breaks global box office record

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LOS ANGELES — Universal Pictuire’s “The Fate of the Furious” has raced to the top of the box office chart — breaking an international record in the process.

The eighth installment of the high-octane action series starring Dwayne Johnson, Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriquez and Jason Statham took  estimated $532.5m (£424.7m) globally over Easter weekend and $98.8 million in North America, according to industry monitor Exhibitor relations.

The figure makes it the strongest worldwide debut ever — marginally overtaking the $529m (£421.8m) taken by Star Wars: The Force Awakens

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It was a sharp drop from the $147.2 million debut by “Furious 7” in 2015 but strong performance overseas meant it was able to smash the “Jurassic World” record international opening of $316.7, with a massive $432.3 million from 63 international markets.

That included $190 million in China — the biggest ever debut for any film in the world’s second largest economy — bringing its total global opening to $532 million and breaking the previous record of $529 million held by “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” (2015).

“It’s a sign that a franchise built around muscle cars and odes to the importance of family is growing more global in scope,” wrote Brett Lang, senior film and media editor for trade magazine Variety in an online commentary.

“If it wants to continue to expand its audience as it inevitably ticks through future sequels, it will need to keep building a fan base in places like China.”

“The Fast and Furious” franchise, which added Charlize Theron for the latest installment, has now amassed $4.4 billion worldwide over its eight movies.

Elsewhere in the domestic top five, “The Boss Baby” beat Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” to the runner-up spot with $16 million, bringing its three-week total to $116.8 million. Alec Baldwin voices the chief baby in the DreamWorks production, distributed by Fox.

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“Beauty” earned another $13.7 million to bring its five-week domestic take to $454.7 million but, as with “The Fate of the Furious,” the Disney fairytale starring Emma Watson and Dan Stevens is doing its biggest business abroad.

A $22 million take from foreign markets brought its global total of just over $1 billion, making it the 22nd largest worldwide release of all time.

Fourth place went to Sony’s “Smurfs: The Lost Village” which added just $6.7 million to its disappointing $13.2 million opening weekend, described by the Hollywood Reporter as “one of the worst starts in recent memory for an animated offering from a major Hollywood studio.”

“Going in Style,” a Warner Bros comedy starring Morgan Freeman, Alan Arkin and Michael Caine as an octogenarian bank robbers, placed fifth in its second weekend, taking in $6.3 million for a domestic total of $23.3 million, which almost covers its production budget.

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Egyptian pop singer jailed over music video inciting debauchery

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CAIRO — An Egyptian pop singer has been sentenced to two years in prison for ‘inciting debauchery’ in a racy music video clip.

A court in Cairo on Tuesday sentenced a little-known 21-year-old singer, Shyma Ahmed to two years in prison and fined 10,000 pounds ($560) for ‘inciting debauchery’ over a racy music video clip, a judicial source said.

The director of the clip, Mohamed Gamal, also received the same sentence. Both can appeal the ruling.

Shyma was arrested on November 18, police said, following complaints about the video for her song ‘I Have Issues.’ In the video, she appears in a mock classroom licking an apple and appearing to mimic fellatio on a banana in front of a chalkboard scrawled with ‘Class #69.’

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“Singer Shyma presents a lesson in depravity to youths,” said the Youm 7 newspaper in an article after the video was released. In a Facebook post at the time, Shyma apologized for the video and said she had not anticipated the backlash.

“I didn’t imagine all this would happen and that I would be subjected to such a strong attack from everyone, as a young singer… who has dreamt from a young age of being a singer,” she wrote.

The authorities have cracked down on some artists in Egypt using wide-ranging morality laws.

In 2015, a court jailed a female dancer to a year in prison for “inciting debauchery” in a raunchy music video for a song called ‘Let Go of My Hand.’

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