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Matrix millions

Los Angeles, May 19 (Reuters): The Matrix Reloaded, a highly anticipated sci-fi thriller starring Keanu Reeves as a balletic freedom fighter, shot to number one in its first weekend at the North American box office.

The sequel sold $93.3 million worth of tickets in its first weekend of release across North America — the number two bow of all time behind Spider-Man, according to studio estimates issued yesterday. Spider-Man opened with $115 million in 2002. The previous number two slot was held by 2001’s Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone with $90.3 million.

While most movies open on a Friday in North America, The Matrix Reloaded bowed on Thursday, preceded by late screenings on Wednesday. Its distributor, Warner Bros., lumped in Wednesday receipts — estimated by industry observers at about $5 million — with the Thursday haul of $42.5 million. The film has taken four days to earn what its 1999 predecessor, The Matrix, grossed in five weeks, said Dan Fellman, president of distribution at Warner Bros. The original film ended up earning $171 million.

Read rush

Berlin (Reuters): Six German schoolgirls read themselves into the record books this weekend after smashing the world record for reading aloud in a two-and-a-half-day marathon, organisers in the western town of Fulda said on Monday. They said six girls, all aged 16, read continuously from eight books in the display window of an optician for 61 hours and 16 minutes, beating by more than seven hours the previous Guinness record set at an Italian university last year. The Guinness Book of Records has yet to confirm the feat. Organiser Thomas Keune said the girls read between 1,600 to 2,000 pages — equivalent to reading Tolstoy’s epic War and Peace almost twice the way through. “They were pretty done in by the end of it,” Keune said. To ensure no illegal pauses crept in, the lengthy monologue was supervised from start to finish and recorded on videotape.

Truffle treat

London (Reuters): The French might sniff and the Italians weep but a humble British farmer’s use of New Zealand know-how is set to knock the snob factor out of the truffle business. The glamorous black diamond of the fungi world, until now the preserve of the culinary elite, could soon become a common feature of the English menu — thanks to a farmer who has produced tree seedlings implanted with truffle spores for the mass market. For £25, the average suburbanite can buy a little oak or hazel tree and look forward to their own truffle harvest for years to come. “There is a ridiculous amount of snobbery surrounding the truffle and there needn’t be,” said Nigel Hadden-Paton of Truffle UK Ltd who is selling his seedlings at the annual Chelsea Flower Show in London.


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