'Limitless' leads the way at the weekend box office
CHICAGO (AP) -- There was no stopping "Limitless" at the box office.
The sci-fi thriller opened at No. 1 this weekend with $19 million, according to studio estimates Sunday.
The film from Relativity Media stars Bradley Cooper as a struggling writer who takes a magical pill that allows him to tap into his maximum brain potential. Suddenly he's cleaned up, making millions and wowing everyone he meets. Robert De Niro co-stars as a financial guru who's fascinated by him, with Abbie Cornish as Cooper's skeptical girlfriend.
"Limitless" broke out of a crowded pack of new releases and holdovers to take the top spot.
Last week's No. 1, the alien invasion movie "Battle: Los Angeles," fell to third place with $14.6 million. The Sony Pictures release has now made an estimated $60.6 million in two weeks. Coming in second was the animated Western "Rango," featuring the voice of Johnny Depp as a chameleon who's stuck in the desert. The Paramount film made $15.3 million for a three-week total of nearly $92.6 million.
It was a slow weekend, with the other new releases battling for the fourth and fifth spots. At No. 4 was the Lionsgate thriller "The Lincoln Lawyer" starring Matthew McConaughey as a sleazy defense attorney on a high-profile case. It made an estimated $13.4 million. In fifth place was "Paul," with Seth Rogen providing the voice of a pot-smoking, wise-cracking alien who befriends a couple of British sci-fi geeks, played by Simon Pegg and Nick Frost (who also wrote the script). The Universal Pictures comedy made about $13.2 million.
Kyle Davies, Relativity's president of theatrical distribution, said he thinks "Limitless" stood out this weekend through a combination of its marketing message and good word of mouth.
"This was a thriller but a very different kind of thriller," he said. "It was a unique angle on a traditional genre."
Atlantic City's gamble
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) -- Casinos in Atlantic City, the nation's second-largest gambling market, had 26.6 million visitors last year, a decrease of 6.2 percent.
But a new survey finds spending per visitor fell by only half that amount -- indicating that those who've stopped coming to Atlantic City are the less-profitable customers the casinos have been trying to avoid.
The stakes are high in Atlantic City, which is in the fifth straight year of revenue decline brought on by the explosion of casino gambling in neighboring states and worsened by the poor economy.
For the past five years, it has been trying to remake itself as a destination resort for higher-spending customers willing to stay a few days.
Gulf stock markets rally
CAIRO (AP) -- The major stock markets in the gulf Arab region have rallied after Saudi Arabia's king decreed $93 billion in financial support measures aimed at quieting discontent in the Arab world's biggest economy.
Saudi Arabia's Tadawul All Shares Index closed up 4.5 percent, at 6,343 points, Sunday, while the Dubai Financial Market closed 2.6 percent higher at 1,509 points.
King Abdullah unveiled the massive financial package Friday, in a second bid in under a month to allay unrest in the oil-rich nation by pledging additional services, bonuses, housing and aid to his people.
Saudi-China oil deal
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) -- State run oil giant Saudi Aramco says it will work with China National Petroleum Co. to build a 200,000-barrel-per-day refinery in southern China.
Aramco said in a statement Sunday that its subsidiary Aramco Overseas Company signed a memorandum of understanding Thursday with CNPC subsidiary PetroChina Co. Ltd. relating to the refinery in China's Yunnan province.
The project is the latest venture between Saudi Arabia and China and comes as the Asian nation is constantly seeking out new sources of crude and refined products to feed its growing economy.
Under the deal, Aramco will supply the refinery with the crude and PetroChina will carry out the marketing of the refined fuels.