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Pixar's 'Brave' conquers the weekend box office

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- A new Disney princess has ascended to the box-office throne with a No. 1 debut for Pixar Animation's "Brave."

The latest from the makers of "WALL-E," "Finding Nemo" and the "Toy Story" movies opened with $66.7 million domestically, according to studio estimates Sunday. "Brave" added $13.5 million in 10 overseas markets for a worldwide start of $80.2 million.

The 20th Century Fox action tale "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" opened far back at No. 3 with $16.5 million, behind "Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted."

The weekend's other new wide release, Steve Carell and Keira Knightley's apocalyptic romance "Seeking a Friend for the End of the World," misfired with just $3.8 million, debuting at No. 10.

Estimated ticket sales were for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to (Where available, latest international numbers are also included. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.)

1. "Brave," $66.7 million ($13.5 million international).

2. "Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted," $20.2 million ($30.1 million).

3. "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter," $16.5 million ($8.1 million).

4. "Prometheus," $10 million ($12.7 million).

5. "Snow White & the Huntsman," $8.01 million ($22.6 million).

6. "Rock of Ages," $8 million ($2.9 million).

7. "That's My Boy," $7.9 million ($900,000).

8. "The Avengers," $7 million ($2.3 million).

9. "Men in Black 3," $5.6 million ($10.5 million).

10. "Seeking a Friend for the End of the World," $3.8 million.


$405 million settlement

ALBANY (AP) -- A settlement announced Sunday will bring $405 million to victims of Bernard Madoff's historic investment scam, the state attorney general said.

The clients of hedge fund manager J. Ezra Merkin will receive $405 million, and New York State will get $5 million to cover the cost of the settlement worked out by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. The victims include New York Law School, Bard College, Harlem Children's Zone, Homes for the Homeless and the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty.

Schneiderman called the agreement "a victory for justice and accountability."

Merkin had managed investments for hundreds of investors in four funds: Ariel Fund Ltd., Gabriel Capital L.P., Ascot Fund Ltd. and Ascot Partners L.P. Schneiderman said many of the investors are New York residents and charitable organizations. Many of them requested not to be identified.


Gas prices keep tanking

CAMARILLO, Calif. (AP) -- The average U.S. price of a gallon of gasoline has dropped 15 cents over the past two weeks.

That's according to the Lundberg Survey of fuel prices, released Sunday, which puts the price of a gallon of regular at $3.48.

Midgrade costs an average of $3.65 a gallon, and premium is at $3.77.

Diesel dropped 13 cents to $3.78 a gallon.

Of the cities surveyed in the lower 48 states, Jackson, Miss., has the nation's lowest average price for gas at $3.03. San Francisco has the highest at $3.95.


Germany reaches deal

BERLIN (AP) -- Chancellor Angela Merkel's government says it has reached a deal with Germany's 16 states to secure the timely ratification of the European Union's new treaty enshrining fiscal discipline.

The agreement struck during talks in Berlin's Chancellery on Sunday paves the way for a vote by both houses of parliament on the legislation Friday.

Merkel's government needs the opposition's and the states' support to garner the necessary two-thirds majority for the treaty's ratification. To win over the opposition, Merkel has agreed to push for the introduction of a financial transaction tax and measures to promote growth in Europe.