The dark anti-hero drama Joker broke box office records for the month of October despite concerns over scenes of wanton violence prominent throughout much of the film. Its estimated $93.5M at the North American box office shattered the previous October opening weekend record of $80M set by last year's Venom, and a $234M global haul made it the biggest opening for Warner Bros. in 2019. A stand-alone relative of the film universe based on DC comics - the answer to Disney's Marvel Studios - and starring Joaquin Phoenix as Arthur Fleck, the film traces the origin story of the notorious supervillian The Joker. Some had criticized the film's portrayal of indiscriminate violence in the wake of an epidemic of mass shootings in the US, even stoking fears of attacks on theaters showing the film, similar to the 2012 shooting at a screening of The Dark Knight Rises. No violence was reported over the weekend.
Second Whistle-Blower Emerges
The legal team representing a whistle-blower who submitted a complaint over a call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky now represents at least one other person, the firm announced yesterday. The second whistle-blower, also from the intelligence community, has reportedly been interviewed by the inspector general but has not yet filed a formal complaint. The revelation is the latest in a saga that spiraled out of allegations that Trump pushed Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden's dealings with Ukraine (read background). Critics also contend the White House threatened $400M in military aid unless the investigations began, an allegation that launched an ongoing House impeachment probe. The new source is said to have first-hand knowledge of the administration's dealings with Ukraine - the original source relied mostly on second-hand conversations - though it is unclear whether there is any new information beyond the call transcript (read), original complaint (read), or text messages (read) released last week.
In election news, Sen. Bernie Sanders's (I-VT) campaign confirmed a minor heart attack led to the presidential candidate's emergency surgery last week.
Hong Kongers Defy Face Mask Ban
Tens of thousands of people marched through downtown Hong Kong on Sunday, defying a newly announced government ban on face masks. The rallies marked the 18th straight weekend of demonstrations against what protesters say is increasing authoritarian control by the central Chinese government over the semi-autonomous region. City Chief Executive Carrie Lam invoked emergency laws on Friday - a move which analysts say will likely fuel the protests - and subway service was stopped Saturday evening. While early marches were largely peaceful, violence once again erupted later in the day with clashes between protesters and police, with unofficial reports estimating dozens of injuries. The chaos has significantly dented the regional economy - the city's richest man, Li Ka-Shing, pledged $128M to "ease the burden" on Hong Kong small businesses.
Have trouble remembering what sparked the protests? Start here.
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Science & Technology
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Business & Markets
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Politics & World Affairs
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Historybook: RIP Edgar Allan Poe (1849); World’s oldest airlines still operating, KLM, is founded (1919); HBD Nobel Prize-winner Desmond Tutu (1931); Mother Teresa starts her Missionaries of Charity (1950); Russian President Vladimir Putin born (1952).