By Lisa Richwine and Chris Michaud LOS ANGELES/NEW YORK (Reuters) - "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" blazed straight to the top of weekend movie charts, setting a U.S. and Canadian record for November ticket sales and hauling in a huge $307.7 million around the world. Fans poured into theaters for the second installment in the series starring Jennifer Lawrence as scrappy heroine Katniss Everdeen, the skilled archer who becomes a beacon of hope for the oppressed residents of the fictional nation of Panem. It topped the $152.5 million opening for "Hunger Games" in March 2012 that established the series as a blockbuster franchise. Playing in 65 markets around the world, "Catching Fire" also grabbed $146.6 million in foreign sales through Sunday, according to distributor Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. Domestic IMAX screenings accounted for $12.6 million of the ticket sales, a November record opening for the big-screen format.
Singaporean family drama "Ilo Ilo" was the surprise winner of the coveted best feature film prize at the Golden Horse Awards in Taiwan Saturday while kung fu epic "The Grandmaster" scooped the most gongs at the Chinese-language "Oscars". "Ilo Ilo" -- director Anthony Chen's first feature-length film -- was the dark horse for the award, beating off stiff competition from Hong Kong director Wong Kar-wai's "The Grandmaster," Johnnie To's "Drug War," Jia Zhangke's "A Touch of Sin" and Tsai Ming-liang's "Stray Dogs".
Indie video games made by tiny teams on even tinier budgets are increasingly competing with the big guys, making inroads on consoles after cutting their teeth on phones and tablets. While a blockbuster console game by mainstream publishers can set you back as much as 70 euros ($90), an indie -- or video game produced by an independent developer -- costs much less, if anything. In a sign of their growing appeal, both Microsoft and Sony have stressed that indie games -- which started around the 1970s -- can be played on their new Xbox One and PlayStation 4, the latest battleground between the gaming giants. Microsoft launched its Xbox One on Friday in more than a dozen countries including Australia, Brazil, Britain, France and the United States.
Microsoft on Friday crowed that more than a million Xbox One consoles were snapped up within 24 hours in 13 countries after hitting shelves for the first time in the morning. The US-based technology titan described it as the biggest launch in Xbox history, setting a new sales record at the company. Xbox One consoles were sold out at most retail shops, according to Microsoft. "We are humbled and grateful for the excitement of Xbox fans around the world," said Xbox corporate vice president of marketing Yusuf Mehdi.
The Xbox One is apparently more than just a killer next-generation gaming console — it’s also apparently a dry run for what outgoing CEO Steve Ballmer hopes will be a more collaborative Microsoft. Bloomberg Businessweek reports on how the Xbox One really is the first major consumer product Microsoft has built where it’s encouraged input from so many of its major divisions including Windows, Skype, Bing, Azure, Kinect and SkyDrive. All of this in-house cooperation is somewhat new to Microsoft, which has long been famous for encouraging cutthroat competition among its employees. “The Xbox One’s operating system includes Windows 8 and speeds switching between apps and games,” explains Bloomberg Businessweek. “ “Windows also means a broader range of apps for users, because