'Hunger Games' finds odds are in its favor for 3rd week
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Film fans are still forking over for "The Hunger Games," which took in $33.5 million to lead the box office for a third-straight weekend.
According to studio estimates Sunday, Lionsgate's "The Hunger Games" raised its domestic total to $302.8 million. It easily outearned two returning favorites, Universal's "American Pie" sequel "American Reunion" and a 3-D version of the blockbuster "Titanic," released domestically by Paramount and overseas by 20th Century Fox.
"American Reunion" pulled in $21.5 million, the lowest haul since the 1999 original but still a decent return for a comedy franchise whose last big-screen chapter came nine years ago.
"The Hunger Games" has helped studios race to a record box-office pace, with domestic revenues for the year now at $2.8 billion, up 20 percent from 2011's, according to box-office tracker Hollywood.com.
"We're heading into summer with a tremendous amount of momentum, led obviously by 'Hunger Games,' " said Hollywood.com analyst Paul Dergarabedian. "Just about everything seems to be working."
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Hollywood.com. Where available, latest international numbers are also included. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.
1. "The Hunger Games," $33.5 million.
2. "American Reunion," $21.5 million ($19.3 million international).
3. "Titanic" in 3-D, $17.4 million ($35.5 million international).
4. "Wrath of the Titans," $15 million.
5. "Mirror Mirror," $11 million.
6. "21 Jump Street," $10.2 million ($2.9 million international).
7. "Dr. Seuss' the Lorax," $5 million ($11.8 million international).
8. "Salmon Fishing in the Yemen," $975,000.
9. "John Carter," $820,000 ($2.6 million international).
10. "Safe House," $581,000.
AT&T workers lack contract
NEW YORK (AP) -- About 40,000 AT&T landline workers are staying on the job this week without a contract, their union said Sunday.
The workers' contracts expired over the weekend, raising the possibility of a strike. But the Communications Workers of America and AT&T Inc. said they'll keep working on a new deal.
CWA spokeswoman Candice Johnson said union representatives met with AT&T on Sunday after talks ended late on Saturday. She doesn't know how long it will take to reach an agreement.
At issue in the negotiations are job protection clauses and health care premiums and co-payments. AT&T says it wants employees to shoulder more of their growing health care costs and more leeway to downsize its shrinking landline operations.
Some of its workers have contracts that guarantee them job offers at different parts of the company if they're laid off.
Union organizers point to the overall financial health of the company, which posted a profit of $4 billion for last year.
Four separate contracts in eastern, Midwestern and Western areas covering some 40,000 workers in total expired.
Natural gas surplus rising
NEW YORK (AP) -- The U.S. natural gas market is bursting at the seams.
So much natural gas is being produced that soon there may be nowhere left to put the country's swelling surplus. After years of explosive growth, natural gas producers are retrenching.
The underground salt caverns and depleted oil fields that store natural gas are rapidly filling up after a balmy winter depressed demand for home heating.
The glut has benefited businesses and homeowners that use natural gas. But with natural gas prices at a 10-year low -- and falling -- companies that produce the fuel are becoming victims of their drilling success. Stock prices are falling in anticipation of declining profits and scaled-back growth plans.
Some of the nation's biggest natural gas producers, including Chesapeake Energy, ConocoPhillips and Encana Corp., have announced plans to slow down.