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BUSINESS BRIEFLY

Action and love films vie for top box office spot

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The Presidents Day weekend box office was too close to call as the action tale "Safe House" and the love story "The Vow" competed for the No. 1 spot.

Based on Sunday's studio estimates, Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds' "Safe House" had a slim lead with $24 million from Friday to Sunday. That put it a fraction ahead of Rachel McAdams and Channing Tatum's "The Vow" with $23.6 million.

The winner won't be known for certain until Tuesday, when studios will report final numbers for the long holiday weekend. Final numbers often vary from weekend projections, which include estimates for the size of Sunday's audiences.

No matter which one finishes on top, the movie business remains unusually brisk for winter, typically a slow season at theaters. The business uptick comes after Hollywood lumbered through a humdrum holiday season at the end of last year, when audiences were apathetic about most new releases.

"I still think people don't want to stay home, and if you give them good choices, you get them out," said Nikki Rocco, head of distribution for Universal Pictures, which released "Safe House."

The top-five movies were bunched up tightly, with Nicolas Cage's sequel "Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance" opening a close No. 3 with $22 million.

Dwayne Johnson's family action tale "Journey 2: The Mysterious Island" was No. 4 with $20.1 million. Reese Witherspoon's love-triangle comedy "This Means War" debuted at No. 5 with $17.6 million.

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 Tuesday.)

1. "Safe House," $24 million ($6 million international).

2. "The Vow," $23.6 million ($6.8 million international).

3. "Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance," $22 million.

4. "Journey 2: The Mysterious Island," $20.1 million ($26 million international).

5. "This Means War," $17.6 million ($11 million international).

6. "Star Wars: Episode I -- The Phantom Menace" in 3-D, $7.9 million ($10 million international).

7. "Chronicle," $7.5 million.

8. "The Woman in Black," $6.6 million ($8.4 million international).

9. "The Secret World of Arrietty," $6.4 million.

10. "The Grey," $3 million.

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Wynn Resorts sues Okada

NEW YORK (AP) -- Wynn Resorts says it forcibly bought back shares from its biggest stakeholder after finding the Japanese tycoon made improper payments to gambling regulators.

The Las Vegas company says it took action against Kazuo Okada after a yearlong investigation uncovered that he engaged in activities that violated U.S. anti-corruption laws. Wynn has asked Okada to resign from the board.

The company says discoveries include cash payments and gifts totaling about $110,000 to foreign gaming regulators

Okada is the founder of casino game maker Universal Entertainment. He held an almost 20 percent stake in Wynn Resorts Ltd. An email was sent seeking comment from Okada, but it generated no immediate response.

Wynn says it filed a lawsuit against Okada and Universal Entertainment in Nevada District Court for breach of fiduciary duty and related offenses.

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'Sun on Sunday' launching

LONDON (AP) -- Rupert Murdoch's News International says that its new tabloid will be launched next Sunday.

In a letter to staff sent Sunday, News International CEO Tom Mockridge said that "The Sun on Sunday" would be published for the first time next weekend.

The Sun on Sunday replaces the top-selling News of the World, which was closed in July after revelations that members of its staff had routinely hacked into phones and paid bribes to score exclusives.

The ensuing scandal stunned Britain's establishment and led to dozens of arrests and resignations.

News International is a subsidiary of Murdoch's New York-based News Corp.