Audiences treasure 'Pirates'

Los Angeles -- Disney was rolling in doubloons as "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl" plundered the box office for $46.4 million in its first weekend.

Based on the Disney theme-park attraction, the movie starring Johnny Depp had taken in $70.4 million since opening Wednesday, according to studio estimates Sunday.

Debuting in second place was Sean Connery's literary superhero adventure "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen," which had a $23.25 million opening weekend.

Other estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at North American theaters, according to Exhibitor Relations Co. Inc., with final figures to be released today:

3. "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines," $19.6 million.

4. "Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde," $12 million.

5. "Finding Nemo," $8.2 million.

6. "Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle," $7.3 million.

7. "Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas," $4.6 million.

8. "28 Days Later," $4.25 million.

9. "The Hulk," $3.7 million.

10. "The Italian Job," $2.8 million.

Oscar nominee directs first film

Los Angeles -- Actress Salma Hayek says she initially turned down the offer to direct the upcoming cable television movie "The Maldonado Miracle."

"I felt so honored, but I passed," she said. "Then I went to do 'Frida,' and when I came back and I started reading scripts and I didn't like anything, I said 'I need to find something that I'm passionate about."'

The film is Hayek's directorial debut.

"The Maldonado Miracle" is about the testing of a small town's faith when a statue of Jesus appears to be shedding tears of blood. It stars Ruben Blades, Peter Fonda and Mare Winningham.

Hayek also was executive producer for the movie, which airs Oct. 12 on Showtime.

Fourth Blobfest puts fans on run

Phoenixville, Pa. -- The town where "The Blob" first made horror history is celebrating the movie monster that made it a star.

Several hundred people kicked off the Fourth Annual BlobFest weekend in the former steel town outside Philadelphia. Scores of screaming horror buffs burst from the Colonial Theatre late Friday in a re-enactment of the famous escape scene from the 1958 cult classic that starred Steve McQueen.

People arrived for the re-enactment dressed in a variety of outfits, from 1950s garb to gorilla suits.

'Luckiest guy on planet' ready to celebrate Playboy's 50th

Los Angeles -- Hugh Hefner is gearing up to celebrate the 50th anniversary of his magazine Playboy.

And Hefner, 77, has no plans to retire any time soon.

"I'm the luckiest guy on the planet. What I'm doing keeps me young," he said last week at the Television Critics Association summer gathering.

Hefner borrowed $600 to launch Playboy in 1953 with Marilyn Monroe as the first pinup.

A&E; will broadcast a special marking the anniversary this fall.


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