Top Grossing Movies of 2013

movie popcornWho doesn’t love a great movie? Whether you enjoy an action packed blockbuster or a period romance, a trip to the movies is a fun way to spend a weekend night out with loved ones and friends, escaping from your day to day doldrums and stepping into someone else’s life for a few hours. In 2013, there were plenty of great movies to choose from! From comedies and summer blockbusters, to action and romance, the box office was swarmed with great titles from all film genres. Some were definitely more popular than others, though. Read on for a look at five of the top grossing movies of 2013.

Iron Man 3

Movie goers came out in full force to witness the final installment of the widely popular Iron Man Series. Robert Downey, Jr., who portrays super hero Tony Stark aka Iron Man, starred in the highest grossing movie of the year. In 2013, Iron Man 3 sold over fifty million tickets worldwide and grossed a whopping $408 million dollars.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Fans of the highly popular book series as well as action movie enthusiasts flocked to theaters to catch the latest installment in the Hunger Games series starring Jennifer Lawrence at Katniss Everdeen. Distributed by Lionsgate, this adventure flick sold over forty-nine million tickets worldwide and brought in a hearty gross total of $400 million dollars. Catching Fire definitely set the box office on fire with its late year release.

Despicable Me 2

The super kid friendly comedy, Despicable Me 2, which was put out by Universal Studios over the summer is another top grossing film of 2013. This PG film earned more than $367 million in sales and box offices the world over sold over 45 million tickets. Gru and his minions certainly have a lot of admirers!

Man of Steel

Looking for blockbuster gold? Look no further than Warner Brother’s 2013 Man of Steel film. This action packed summer blockbuster was released in June and earned over $291 million in sales, with over 35 million ticket sales around the world.

Frozen

The Walt Disney children’s film Frozen was released in late November, and performed exceptionally well in the box office. With over $277 million gross earnings in 2013, and 33 million tickets sold, the film Frozen was certainly heating things up in the box office race for top grossing films in 2013.

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Top Celebrity Couples of 2013

It’s easy enough to list the highest earning celebrities or the hottest or most powerful.  It’s a bit more interesting to look at which celebrity couples are the best and brightest.  Here’s a look at some of the most successful celebrity couples from 2013, especially those who have had a major impact on society at large.

David & Victoria Beckham

This perennial top couple has been together for almost 16 years and are leaders in the world of fashion and sports. Victoria, who is a beautiful model and a renowned fashionista, has been on almost every magazine cover with new clothing designs as well as her own perfume line, Beckham is the greatest  soccer (European football) star ever, having played for teams from Manchester to L.A Galaxy and earning thousands of dollars per week. This couple excels at organizing charity events and raising money to improve various communities around the world.

Duke & Duchess of Cambridge

Popularly known as Prince William and Kate Middleton, the Duke & Duchess are far and away the best couple in England. Though William has been in the limelight as second in line to the British throne since he was born, Kate has become a star in her own right.  From their dating years through their engagement and royal wedding, the couple has been media darlings.  In 2013 their celebrity grew with the birth of their first child, Prince George, who is certainly the cutest of the royals and possibly one of the richest babies in the world.

Beyoncé_e_Jay-ZJay Z & Beyonce

To many fans, this power music couple is the undisputed top of the list.  They both dominate the world music industry. Beyonce is known for her beautiful soothing voice that can sell over a million copies and Jay Z the hip hop guru. At the end of 2013 Beyonce surprised the world by releasing a self-titled album exclusively on itunes with no advance marketing or buzz.  It flew to the top of the charts and ended up one of the top selling and critically-acclaimed albums of the year.

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Las Vegas & Reno on the Big Screen

Of all the cities in Nevada, Las Vegas and Reno are probably the most well-known travel destinations.  Las Vegas especially is a hotspot for entertainment, gaming, food, and fun.  Since the beginning of the motion picture industry they have also been popular filming locations.  Over the years Las Vegas and Reno have provided the backdrop for hundreds of movies.  Naturally, it would be impossible to list them all; however, here is a list of the some of the most popular and recent.

The original Ocean’s Eleven, filmed in 1960, starred Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis Jr., and Peter Lawford.  Several Las Vegas hotels were used in the Flamingo, The Desert Inn, Sands, Sahara, and the Riviera.


The Misfits, filmed in 1961, was the last film for both stars Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe.  Filming was done in various locations in Nevada, the most notable being Harrah’s Casino and the Washoe County Courthouse in Reno.

The Godfather I and II, filmed in 1972 and 1974, had a true all-star cast that included Marlon Brando, Diane Keaton, Al Pacino, James Caan, Robert Duvall, and Robert De Niro.  Scenes were shot in both Las Vegas and Lake Tahoe.

Casino, also starring Robert De Niro, was shot in 1995 at the Riviera, Landmark, and Main Street Station hotels; as well as various other locations in Las Vegas.

Kingpin, a 1996 Woody Harrelson feature, was filmed in Reno at the Silver Legacy Hotel-Casino and the National Bowling Stadium.

Con Air, filmed in 1997, starred Nicholas Cage and John Cusack.  Las Vegas was utilized for several scenes; however, the most notable is the Sands Casino.  The building was scheduled for demolition so the film crew was given permission to crash a mock up aircraft into it.

The Hangover, filmed in 2001, starred Ed Helms, Bradley Cooper, and Zach Galifianakis.  As the title might imply, most of the movie shot at various locations throughout Las Vegas; the primary location being Caesar’s Palace.

This is just a small list of all the films shot in Las Vegas or Reno.  If you want to check and see if your favorite features scenes in the Silver State, a comprehensive list can be found online or through the Nevada Film Office.

contributed by Janna Krieg, a freelance writer based in Nevada.  She has written about everything from celebrities to music to law firms like http://www.swlaw.com/locations/reno for a variety of entertainment and news blogs.

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Should Actors Study Acting?

Lots of children grow up being encouraged to go to college so that they can get the proper credentials to succeed in their chosen career.  Aspiring actors, however, seem to be in a different situation.  Many are encouraged to study something more practical as a “backup plan” should they fail to build an acting career.  Others are insistent that they will have a better chance of a successful career if they spend two or four — or more — years honing their craft.

acting classIn addition to numerous theater, dramatic arts, and performing arts degree programs in four-year colleges all over the country, there are a few specialized programs that attract the academic actor.  The American Academy of Dramatic Arts offers programs in California and New York. It is a two-year program that boosts many successful alumni.  The Yale School of Drama and the Actors Studio Drama School offer graduate programs for aspiring actors.

Here are some of the famous actors with degrees in acting or theater:

Sigourney Weaver
Meryl Streep
Julie Harris
Paul Giamatti
Paul Newman
Angela Bassett
D.B. Woodside
David Alan Grier
Hank Azaria
Lauren Bacall
Anne Bancroft
Paul Rudd
Kirk Douglas
Spencer Tracy
Anne Hathaway
James Farentino
Robert Redford
Constance Zimmer

On the other side, many actors chose to study other degree fields before launching their acting career.  With degrees in everything from business to math to biology, they still managed to become acclaimed actors.

Here are some famous names that did NOT study acting in college (and some even stayed in school long enough to earn a degree):

Samuel L. Jackson (marine biology)
Olympia Dukakis (physical therapy & polio epidemics)
Teri Hatcher (mathematics & engineering)
Amy Poehler (media & communications)
Michael C. Hall (pre-law)
Dule Hill (business finance)
Dustin Hoffman (pre-med)
Mayim Bialik (Ph.D in neuroscience)
Lisa Kudrow (biology)

Some famous actors never went to college, and others didn’t even finish high school. The only conclusion to be drawn is that talent and opportunity will lead to success, with or without an acting degree.

Riley Hill contributed this guest post.  He is an entertainment and arts blogger who has also studied education.  He writes about speech, acting, and performance for educational, entertainment, and lifestyle blogs.

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Most Expensive TV Shows to Produce

The most popular television shows in the US bring in millions of dollars in ad revenue, syndication fees, and DVD and digital sales to the studios and networks that own them.  Those figures make it look like studios are rolling in money, but they don’t take into account how much it takes to produce the individual programs.

In reality, most TV shows operate at a loss, at least initially.  A studio (sometimes a network-owned studio) produces the show and sells it to a network for a licensing fee that is usually considerably less than the cost of production.  The average cost of producing an hour long drama on network television is $3 million. A drama on cable averages $2 million an episode. Studios gamble on a show being successful enough to make up that deficit in syndication and DVD and digital sales.

On the network side, the investment in licensing fees is offset by the sale of advertising units during the broadcast of the first-run episodes. Good ratings translates to higher ad rates and more profit on the network side. Cable networks receive subscription fees from cable and satellite providers.

Taking into account that most network shows produce 20-22 episodes a season and cable series need 8-12 episodes, the production costs quickly multiply.

Below are some of the most expensive television programs ever produced:

  • X Factor — $3.5 million/episode
  • Terra Nova — $3.9 million/episode
  • Lost — $4 million/episode
  • Deadwood — $4.5 million/episode
  • Game of Thrones — $6 million/episode
  • Rome — $9 million/episode
  • Friends — $10 million/episode ($12.3 million in 2013 dollars)

Because pilot episodes usually cost more to produce, here’s a list of the most expensive pilot episodes in recent years (figures converted to 2013 dollars):

  • Game of Thrones — $5.2 – $10.3 million
  • Pan Am — $10.4 million
  • Fringe — $10.8 million
  • Lost — $12-17 million
  • Boardwalk Empire — $19 million
  • Terra Nova — $10-$20.8 million

Here’s a clip from the final episode of “Friends”:

Rex Phillips is a financial blogger who enjoys writing about the money involved in film and television.  He has also published posts about loans, banks, and lending networks like Money Mutual.

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Leading Racers of 2013

The general public knows the names of American race car drivers like Danica Patrick, Patrick Dempsey, and Dale Earnheardt Jr., but only true race fans know names like Sebastian Vettel Scott Tucker, Kyle Busch and Allan McNish.  In the 2013 racing season, these are some of the leading drivers in their respective championship classifications.

Sebastian Vettel Red Bull RacingSebastian Vettel is currently atop the field in Formula One racing. There are seven races left in the 19 race F1 schedule, but Vettel has won more races than anyone else in the first part of the season and is the three-time defending champion in Formula One. The Red Bull – Renault Racing driver is 53 points ahead of second place driver Fernando Alonso and 81 points ahead of Great Britian’s Lewis Hamilton. Mathematically, Vettel could lose the championship this year, but he has skill and momentum on his side.

In the final season of American Le Mans racing, the P1 category team championship has already been decided, with Muscle Milk Pickett Racing having already accumulated enough points to be declared the winner, and co-drivers set to share the driver championship.  Over in the P2 category, things are a bit closer. Only eight points separate top drivers Marino Fanchitti, Guy Cosmo, and Scott Tucker, the defending champion, is likely out of the competition due to a crash at the Baltimore Grand Prix, but his team, Level 5 Motorsports, has a 15 point lead in the championship battle with three races remaining.

Over in NASCAR there are two battles.  For the Sprint Cup many are predicting that Matt Kenseth will take home the honors and he’s off to the early lead. But the “Chase for the Spring Cup” has only just begun and over the next nine weeks almost anything can happen.  On the IndyCar side there are only three races remaining in the season and Helio Castroneves holds a 49 point lead over Scott Dixon with Simon Pagenaud and Marco Andretti another 20 and 21 points behind.

In the FIA World Endurance Cup championship, there is currently a three-way tie.  Audi Sport Team Joest co-drivers Loïc Duval, Tom Kristensen, and Allan McNish have 112 points each at the half-way mark of the season. While there are still four races left in the season, the trio have a 32 point lead on the next drivers and a 59 point lead over the next team.

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The Way to Success

sleep is the enemyCustomer service software is more than just a new trend in the business world, it is the means for survival. In the world economy today, businesses are discovering that they must pay attention to every detail. Perhaps this has always been the case for the well motivated and successful companies, however in current times, all business owners are finding out that in order to become and to maintain competitive, customer service is a must.

Tracking customer service in the “old days” meant a tremendous amount of paperwork and man hours. While this could be considered to be an inexpensive option to tracking quality management, it is not considered to be a very accurate nor efficient way of keeping track. This paper-based way of analyzing data was time consuming. Not only in the moment, but in regards with the future ideas a company may wish to expand upon as well.

Computer technology has changed many aspects of daily life, and this includes the aspects of customer service. Software is now available, software that will track not only the future market trends, but the day to day workings of any business. These programs provide business owners with the ability and the means to create centralized systems, systems wherein the data is received quickly and accurately. This has resulted in quicker response times, from everything to customer complaints to product reviews.

These web-based programs have resulted in more accurate collection of data, in time saved instead of time spent, and in ensuring that one’s business value will become, and remain, competitive and ahead of the game. While some training is required, employees will find that once they know the system, their jobs will become much easier, allowing them to become more productive and more secure in the future that lies ahead, not only for their own lives but for the life and the success of the company. Customer complaint management software ensures that every aspect of running a business will be enhanced, from customer comments to an overall organization that was before, not so simple to achieve. In sum, the businesses of today have found that this software makes the difference between success and failure, and provides the means to a profitable and productive venture in the competitive market of today.

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photo by: striatic
Business

Celebrities Facing Problems

celebrityLittle children dream of being celebrities for two reasons: fame and fortune.  In the digital age where fame can come to cat videos, dreams of making a fortune gain traction.  Unfortunately, celebrity alone doesn’t guarantee a good head for money, leaving many celebrities facing financial problems.

Lauryn Hill

Accomplished singer/songwriter Lauryn Hill is now in the spotlight for her financial problems due to tax evasion.  Hill owes over $1 million in state and federal taxes.  After pleading guilty in 2012 to failure to file taxes, Hill was recently sentenced to three months in federal prison and a $60,000 fine.  Following her incarceration, Hill will spend three months confined to her home as part of a year-long supervised release program.

Mary J. Blige

Another popular singer with monetary problems is Mary J. Blige whose problems include defaulting on bank loans, tax liens, and several lawsuits.  Blige is being sued by Bank of America for defaulting on a half million dollar bank loan and by Signature Bank for failure to pay a $2.2 million loan.  There is also an outstanding tax lien against Blige in New Jersey for over $900,000. In addition, The Mary J Blige and Steve Stoute Foundation for the Advancement of Women Now is facing a lawsuit for defaulting on a loan of $250,000.

Annie Leibovitz

yCelebrated photographer Annie Leibovitz is proof that even famous people can get buried by life events. Leibovitz’s partner Susan Sontag and both her parents died in 2005, the same year that she gave birth to twins.  Poor financial management led to unpaid bills for a renovation project, missed tax payments, and an abandoned book deal.  On top of that probate laws kept Leibovitz from inheriting Sontag’s estate without paying massive estate taxes. The result of all these circumstances was over $24 million in debt that Leibovitz is working with creditors to pay.

Nicolas Cage

An Academy Award is also not proof against financial problems.  Nicholas Cage has both. Cage at one time owed $14 million in taxes to the IRS.  After years of flirting with bankruptcy and jail time, Cage has scaled back his life and worked with the IRS to pay back his debt.  After making a payment of $600,000 in 2012, Cage’s overall debt has been reduced to $6 million.

Other stars facing tax problems include Dionne Warwick who filed for bankruptcy in March over $10.7 million in state and federal taxes.  Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne have paid $700,000 toward unpaid taxes, but still owe over $2 million. Pamela Anderson owes California and the IRS almost $400,000 and Gary Busey owes over $450,000 in taxes against personal assets of around $26,000.

Sara Ward is an entertainment and sports blogger.  She loves writing about her favorite auto racers, like Scott Tucker (see: ScottTuckerRaceCarDriver.com), and favorite actors, like Nicholas Cage.

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Celebrity

Tennis Star John McEnroe Gained Media Attention On and Off Court

tennisTennis is a sport that has gained a lot of attention and increased in popularity in recent years. More people are interested in watching professional tennis now than ever before and there are also greater numbers of people playing the sport for their own pleasure as well as a form of exercise. On the professional level, fans are not only interested in the sport itself but have a particular fascination with the players. Professional tennis players are well known for their dynamic personalities and they have often been the subject of media exploitation. Famous personalities of the past like John McEnroe were well known for their turbulent emotions and temperamental natures.

During his career McEnroe made some famous, and impressive rivalries with other professional players. Of course this is a common aspect of sports and is always seen between teams and individual players. With McEnroe, the rivalries had the ingredients of media sensations. Some of this most prominent rivals included Bjorn Borg, Ivan Lendl and Jimmy Connors.

McEnroe won seven different Grand Slam singles titles during his career and though he was internationally known for his on, and off, court behaviors, he was also internationally respected for his skill as a player. Unfortunately, for much of the mainstream, who were not specifically tennis fans or enthusiasts, it was his unconventional behaviors that gained him his greatest attention, and it wasn’t positive. However, the seven titles he won, four at the US Open and three at Wimbledon speak volumes about his talent and skill. In addition to the singles titles, McEnroe earned nine men’s doubles titles, yes he could find people to play with him, and one mixed double title. One of the most famous remarks from his Wimbledon highlights days, was his incredulous questioning of the umpire and his sarcastic implication that call was less than sincere. In 1999 he was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

Leo Younge is a sports journalist and photographer.  He writes about top athletes like Rafael Nadal, Scott Tucker, and Diana Taurasi.

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photo by: Viewmaker
People

Celebrity Car Enthusiasm

Everyone loves their car, truck or other automobile. Okay, so we’ll back that up a bit and not make it a blanket statement in absolutes. Many, if not most, people love their automobiles. And with that, another obsession for a lot of people is the type of cars that their favorite celebrities drive. Jesse James is well known for his costume made motorcycles and has enjoyed success with realty television. His West Coast Choppers is now internationally known, though he actually started the company in his mother’s garage in 1992. Meanwhile, he has managed to garner as much notoriety for his relationship, and lack of fidelity, with Sandra Bullock as he has for his work. Most recently, James’ reputation has suffered severely for his lack of fidelity, as well as discretion. However, his career with bikes, cars and trucks is what many people recognize and respect him for, and if he stays out of trouble, it is his work that is likely going to remain with him as his career continues.

by Mike Baird

Chrome wheels are just one of the features that specialized cars, trucks and motorcycles are known for. What many people seem to overlook is the absolute detail needs of cars, which is one of the things James is known for. It’s much like putting together a fashion model, every little detail counts, and the wheels, which might compare to shoes, are an essential aspect of any well designed vehicle. And as every professional knows, if you’re going to detail your auto, you must go all the way.

Of course for the pros like Jesse James, they take their vehicle passion and incorporate it into their lifestyle. No one is likely to forget the image of James pulling up in a pick up truck to his wedding with Bullock, and while the truck tires might be overlooked or even completely forgotten, you can be sure the truck was customized, down to the last detail. Not everyone has to go to such extremes, or turn their passion for their vehicle into a lifestyle, but many people do put an exorbitant amount of effort and money into the look of their car. And for those few of us who consider their vehicle for its functional element only, it makes little to no sense why some people would put as much money into the appearance and exterior of their auto as what they do to its maintenance. But then, to those that do, we don’t really even exist, except maybe as a potential fix up project or diamond in the rough.

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