Hunger Games: Catching Fire’ Villain on How Flogging Will Help His Career

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Patrick St. Esprit has made a career largely out of playing the bad guy.

But the recognizable character actor, who has had a recurring role on TV’s “Sons of Anarchy” since the first season, out-baddies himself in “Catching Fire,” making his mark — quite literally — in Lionsgate’s “Hunger Games” sequel.

“When I was younger, a lot of my guest spots on television were playing bad guys,” St. Esprit, 59, told Variety. “I found that they served me really well. (Being bad) gave me more opportunities to explore a character.”

In “Catching Fire,” which ignited the box office this weekend with a $300 million-plus worldwide opening, St. Esprit delivers a memorable scene – one that even made the film’s trailer – in which he plays the barbarous Commander Thread, who flogs a dissenting Gale, played by Liam Hemsworth.

Spattered in blood, St. Esprit’s sadistic villain is persuaded to stop the flogging by none other than the Girl on Fire herself, Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence), along with fellow Hunger Games victors, Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) and Haymitch (Woody Harrelson). In fact, the graphic nature of the scene, including Gale’s horrifically scarred back (rendered by Oscar-winning makeup artist Ve Neill), was toned down some to avoid a more restrictive rating. Read more

2013 American Music Awards: Complete Winners’ List and Highlights

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Rihanna’s mother handing over the first ever Icon Award to the “Diamonds” singer, Justin Timberlake getting picked on by Sarah Silverman for being “a white kid from the Mickey Mouse Club,” yet winning Soul/R&B Artists of the Year and TLC reuniting to perform “Waterfalls” in the packed Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles were just a few of the highlights from Sunday night’s American Music Awards.

Let’s not forget about Miley Cyrus’s performance of “Wrecking Ball” in front of a giant video kitten crying diamonds and singing along as Miley sported a two-piece feline leotard.

Taylor Swift took home the big award of the night winning Artists of the Year for the third time – a record. Here’s a full run down of the American Music Award winners for 2013:

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Gravity still flying high at box office

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The movie, starring George Clooney and Sandra Bullock as two astronauts cut adrift following an accident, took £4.8 million over the weekend (15-18Nov13) to remain in the number one spot.

Last week’s (ends15Nov13) runner-up, Thor: The Dark World, was also a non-mover with £1.7 million, and drama Philomena held on to third place with £1 million.

New release The Counselor came fourth in the countdown, with £815,000, and The Butler debuted in fifth with £794,000.

Katy Perry Bringing Something ‘Beautiful’ With ‘Unconditionally’ Premiere Tonight On MTV

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Katy Perry left our mouths watering last week when she gave us a small taste of her “Unconditionally” video, and in just hours, she’s going to treat us to the whole thing when the clip premieres tonight (Novmeber 19) at 7:53 p.m. ET on MTV as part of “MTV First: Katy Perry ‘Unconditionally.'”

And according to the Prism singer herself, we’re in for something a bit more decadent than the clips we’re used to from her. Following tonight’s premiere, Perry will sit down for an exclusive 30-minute interview with rapper Iggy Azalea on MTV.com to dish on everything “Unconditionally,” including what makes it such a departure from her previous music videos.

‘Best Man’ nearly topples ‘Thor’ at the box office

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In an unlikely battle of sequels, “Thor: The Dark World” bested “The Best Man Holiday” at the box office.

Disney’s “Thor: The Dark World” continued its box-office reign with $38.5 million in its second week of release, according to studio estimates Sunday. Opening 15 years after the original “The Best Man,” Universal’s “The Best Man Holiday” opened strongly with $30.6 million.

Drawing an overwhelmingly female and African-American audience, “The Best Man Holiday” was a surprise challenger for the mighty “Thor.” The R-rated romantic comedy, with an ensemble cast including Morris Chestnut and Taye Diggs, debuted with more than three times the box office of 1999’s “The Best Man.” That film opened with $9 million.

The performance of Malcolm D. Lee’s “The Best Man Holiday” continued an ongoing trend. Movies that appeal particularly to black audiences have often been surpassing expectations at the box office.

“It’s a familiar refrain, and it’s getting a little tired,” said Lee. “I thought we had a chance to do something special.”

Eminem heaing to #1, Celine Dion to #2

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As reported earlier, Eminem’s “The Marshall Mathers LP 2” album is unstoppable, as it will easily debut at No. 1 next week’s Billboard 200 with the second-largest sales week of the year. Industry sources say the set could sell around 750,000 by the end of the tracking week on Sunday, Nov. 10.

The new Billboard 200’s top 10 will be revealed on Wednesday, Nov. 13.

Currently, the year’s second-biggest week is owned by Drake’s “Nothing Was the Same,” which entered at No. 1 with 658,000, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Justin Timberlake’s “The 20/20 Experience” will continue to own 2013’s biggest week, as it opened with 968,000 at No. 1 back in March.

If “The Marshall Mathers LP 2” sells between 725,000 and 750,000, it will instantly become one of the year’s top 15-selling albums. At the present, the No. 15 seller is the “Pitch Perfect” soundtrack, which has moved 721,000 in 2013.

It’s likely that within two weeks time, “MMLP2” will become one of the year’s top 10 sets, as the No. 10 title (Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ “The Heist”) has sold 911,000.

“MMLP2” will mark the seventh No. 1 for Eminem — and seventh consecutive set to debut at No. 1.

Eminem’s album will likely be one of three debuts in next week’s top 10, as he will be joined by Celine Dion’s “Loved Me Back to Life” and Avril Lavigne’s self-titled album. Dion’s effort is aiming for a start of around 80,000, while Lavigne is on course for a bow of perhaps 40,000.

12 Years a Slave’ Goes Nationwide in Box-Office Counter Play

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It won’t catch the god of thunder, but the Oscar front-runner has built momentum and will expand into about 1,100 theaters this weekend

“12 Years a Slave” opens nationwide this weekend, which means it will be going up against Disney’s Marvel superhero sequel “Thor: The Dark World” – a likely blockbuster.

The powerful slavery drama, a front-runner in the Oscar Best Picture race, shouldn’t be hurt by the “The Dark World,” which targets teens and young adults, a very different demographic target than “12 Years.” And distributor Fox Searchlight is hoping the serious, awards-contending look at American history will provide an enticing alternative for those not drawn to the Thunder God, Loki, et al.

“There is obviously some momentum being generated, fueled by good word of mouth [96 percent positive on Rotten Tomatoes] and the tremendous reviews we have been receiving,” Fox Searchlight sr. vice-president Frank Rodriguez told TheWrap. ”While we will not be a challenge to ‘Thor,’ we will, I believe, have another impressive weekend as we start to spread out across North America.”

Lorde Co-Writer Joel Little ‘Looking Forward to Making More Songs’

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Meet Joel Little, the producer behind every track of Lorde’s debut album “Pure Heroine” — yes, including the Hot 100-topping “Royals,” which he also co-wrote. One might say he’s doing the Lorde’s work, but that joke has already been made (along with a lot of other Lorde puns; see below), via the tagline of Little’s official Tumblr.

But you could soon be hearing a lot more from Little, an Auckland, New Zealand-based musician who typically works out of the Golden Age studio, but lately has been embracing the globetrotting approach. While he chatted on the phone with Billboard, Little was taking a break from a London studio session with Sam Smith, the man responsible for the ethereal vocals on Disclosure’s “Latch.” Little talked about his work with Smith, future plans for recording with Lorde, his pop-punk backstory, and much more.

Bilboard: Tell me about your recent studio time with Sam Smith.
Joel Little: We’ve just been writing! He’s working on his album and I’ve always been a big fan of his voice and his songwriting so we found some time to get together. Whether or not the songs will make it on the album (I don’t know), but it’s been a good time.

We get into the room together and talk about what we’ve been listening to and what we feel like working on. I’ll just start by putting a beat together. Sometimes I have things, like starting points in songs prepared, and we’ll go through those, but if there’s nothing getting us particularly excited, I’ll just make something. We’ll play around with a few chords until he finds something to sing over the top and we’ll take it from there.

Box Office Preview: ‘Ender’s Game’ Eyeing $25 Million-Plus North American Debut

Overseas, “Thor: Dark Word” begins its assault, grossing just north of $8 million on Wednesday as it opened in the U.K. and France, among a handful of other territories; high-profile openings at the North American specialty box office include “Diana” and doc “Casting By.”

Sci-fi epic Ender’s Game is poised to win the North American box-office race this weekend with a solid $25 million or more opening, hoping to reverse a disturbing downturn in movie adaptations of young-adult books. Overseas, the film has already opened in the U.K., where it is doing softer-than-expected business.

The big headline internationally this weekend will be Disney and Marvel Studios’ sequel Thor: The Dark World, which began rolling out Wednesday in the U.K., France and a handful of other markets, grossing north of $8 million and pacing ahead of the first Thor. On Thursday and Friday, Thor 2, with Chris Hemsworth returning in the title role, opens in a number of other major markets before hitting theaters in North America on Nov. 8.

Ender’s Game, a co-production between Summit Entertainment, OddLot Entertainment and Digital Domain, will need to do substantial business worldwide in order to make up its $110 million budget. The action-adventure is based on the best-selling novel of the same name by Orson Scott Card, whose anti-gay comments have riled many (though he has said Ender’s Game isn’t a YA property, it has been made widely available in schools).

Directed by Gavin Hood, Ender’s Game stars Asa Butterfield, Harrison Ford, Ben Kingsley, Viola Davis, Hailee Steinfeld and Abigail Breslin. The film should be boosted by a run in Imax theaters.

Outside of the Hunger Games and Twilight film franchises, YA properties have struggled at the box office. This year, The Host, Beautiful Creatures and Mortal Instruments: City of Bones all flopped.

Set in the near future, Ender’s Game revolves around a young boy (Butterfield) who is recruited by the military to stop an alien race from destroying the world.