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BUSINESS BRIEFLY

'Tron' sequel dominates weekend box office sales

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Jeff Bridges' sci-fi sequel "Tron: Legacy" has leapt to the top of the box office grid with a $43.6 million opening weekend, according to studio estimates Sunday.

The Disney release reboots the story line started in Bridges' 1982 tale "Tron," in which his character is hurtled into a deadly virtual reality known as the Grid. The movie co-stars Garrett Hedlund and Olivia Wilde.

Other newcomers premiered with modest to poor receipts, continuing a sluggish end to Hollywood's year.

The weekend proved no picnic for Dan Aykroyd's family flick "Yogi Bear," which fell flat at a weak No. 2 with $16.7 million.

The previous weekend's top movie, 20th Century Fox's "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader," fell to No. 3 with $12.4 million, raising its total to $42.7 million.

Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale's acclaimed boxing drama "The Fighter" had a so-so expansion nationwide after a stellar debut in limited release the previous weekend for the tale based on the life of real-life fighter Micky Ward. Released by Paramount, "The Fighter" came in at No. 4 with $12.2 million.

Reese Witherspoon's love-triangle romance "How Do You Know" was a dud with just $7.6 million, the Sony release opening at No. 8.

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A C-Max exclusive

WAYNE, Mich. (AP) -- Ford Motor Co.'s new C-Max small minivan will have an exclusive feature when it goes on sale in the U.S. next fall: a hands-free liftgate.

The C-Max liftgate opens with the wave of a foot under the back of the minivan. The van will only open for the person who's holding its key. Ford says the U.S. version of the C-Max will be the first vehicle on the market with this technology.

The C-Max marks Ford's return to the U.S. minivan market five years after it stopped selling its last minivan, the Freestar. The C-Max has been on sale in Europe since 2003, although a seven-seat version wasn't sold there until this year. The C-Max is built on the underpinnings of the Ford Focus and is part of the company's plan to build 10 Focus-based vehicles worldwide by 2012.

Ford will sell the seven-seat C-Max in the U.S., a configuration that will make it unique in the small-minivan market. The Mazda5, its closest rival in size, seats six. Ford manages the extra body by giving the second row a middle seat that can be folded away under the right-hand seat. Buyers will be able to get the third row removed if they prefer to have five seats.

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Cheney charges dropped

LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) -- A spokesman for Nigeria's antigraft body says it has dropped charges against former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney and his former company Halliburton.

Economic and Financial Crimes Commission spokesman Femi Babafemi says the charges against Cheney and other executives of Halliburton and its former subsidiary KBR were dropped Friday after a plea-bargain deal was reached. Officials did not describe the settlement.

Authorities said the charges stemmed from a case involving as much as $180 million allegedly paid in bribes to Nigerian officials from 1995 to 2004. Cheney was named as he led the company during a period when the bribes were allegedly paid.

The Halliburton case involves its former subsidiary KBR, an engineering and construction services firm based in Houston.

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This week in business

These are the major business and economic events scheduled for this week.

*Today -- Weekly Treasury auction

*Tuesday -- No events scheduled.

*Wednesday -- Commerce Department releases third-quarter gross domestic product; National Association of Realtors releases existing home sales for November.

*Thursday -- Labor Department releases weekly jobless claims; Commerce Department releases durable goods for November, personal income and spending for November, new home sales for November; Freddie Mac, the mortgage company, releases weekly mortgage rates.

*Friday -- Markets closed for Christmas holiday.

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