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BUSINESS BRIEFLY

'Avengers' hits $178 million in overseas ticket sales

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The superhero saga "The Avengers" lived up to its blockbuster buzz with $178.4 million in overseas ticket sales days before it opens in U.S. theaters.

Domestic audiences generally passed on a bunch of new flicks as fans seem to be in anticipation mode for Disney's "The Avengers," which debuts Friday in the United States after launching in 39 other countries a week earlier.

The Sony Screen Gems ensemble comedy "Think Like a Man" was No. 1 domestically for the second straight weekend with $18 million.

Four movies were bunched up for the No. 2 spot in the $11 million range: Sony's animated comedy "The Pirates! Band of Misfits" with $11.4 million; the Warner Bros. romantic drama "The Lucky One" with $11.3 million; Lionsgate's blockbuster "The Hunger Games" with $11.25 million; and Universal's romantic comedy "The Five-Year Engagement" with $11.2 million.

Those four flicks were so close that their rankings from Sunday studio estimates could change once final numbers are released today.

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. "Think Like a Man," $18 million.

2. "The Pirates! Band of Misfits," $11.4 million ($5.5 million international).

3. "The Lucky One," $11.3 million.

4. "The Hunger Games," $11.25 million.

5. "The Five-Year Engagement," $11.2 million.

6. "Safe," $7.7 million.

7. "The Raven," $7.3 million.

8. "Chimpanzee," $5.5 million.

9. "The Three Stooges," $5.4 million.

10. "The Cabin in the Woods," $4.5 million.

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Kodak debate to begin

ROCHESTER (AP) -- Lawyers are set to debate whether Eastman Kodak Co. should pay $13.5 million in bonuses to retain key employees as it reorganizes under bankruptcy protection.

A hearing is scheduled today in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York City.

The U.S. trustee has filed an objection to Kodak's motion to pay the bonuses, saying that Kodak hasn't shown, as required, that the money won't go to high-level company insiders.

The trustee is an arm of the Justice Department charged with monitoring corporate bankruptcy cases.

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Apple pares taxes

NEW YORK (AP) -- A published report says Apple Inc. uses subsidiaries in Ireland, the Netherlands and other low-tax nations as part of a strategy that enables the technology giant to cut its global tax bill by billions of dollars every year.

The New York Times on Sunday outlined legal methods used by Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple to avoid paying billions of dollars in federal and state taxes.

One approach highlighted in the report: Even though the company is based in California, Apple has set up a small office in Reno, Nev., to collect and invest its profits. The corporate tax rate in Nevada is zero. In California, it's 8.84 percent.

While many major corporations try to reduce their tax bills, technology companies like Apple, Google Inc., Microsoft Corp. and others have more options to do so.

That's because some of their revenue comes from digital products or royalties on patents, which makes it easier for them to move profits to tax-friendly states or countries, the Times said.

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Pall agrees on sale

PORT WASHINGTON (AP) -- Filtration equipment manufacturer Pall Corp. says it has agreed to sell certain operations and equipment used in blood transfusions to health care company Haemonetics Corp. for $550 million.

The deal announced Sunday calls for Haemonetics to receive blood collection, filtration and processing systems and equipment, along with manufacturing facilities in California, Mexico and Italy from Pall.

About 1,300 Pall employees will be transferred to Haemonetics as part of the deal.