‘Fast & Furious 6′ Leads Record-Breaking Memorial Day Weekend !

Fast & Furious 6. Still going strong after 12 years and five sequels, the street-racing saga easily drove off with the box office crown this holiday weekend. According to studio estimates, it fell just $1.5 million shy of speeding past $100 million during its first three days; over the full Memorial Day holiday, it’s expected to earn $122.2 million. It’s an especially impressive feat given how crowded the multiplex is with blockbusters right now. Credit the movie for the multi-ethnic appeal of its cast, which also helped Fast 6 gross $177 million overseas, for a worldwide total so far of $275.5 million. Also credit the film for delighting longtime fans by delivering exactly what it promises. With an A grade from CinemaScore, word-of-mouth is very strong.

Then again, nearly every major release did well this weekend, for a total estimated domestic box office of $315 million through Monday. That’s a Memorial Day weekend record, surpassing the $296 million earned during the holiday two years ago. Last week’s champ, Star Trek Into Darkness, held up well with an estimated $38.0 million over three days (good for third place) and a likely $48.0 million through Monday.  Also staying strong was Iron Man 3 (fifth place), with a Friday-to-Sunday estimate of $19.4 million and a full holiday estimate of $24.6 million. After four weeks, it’s approaching $400 million, with $367.5 million earned through Sunday.

Summer Movie Preview 2013

In this environment, new family cartoon Epic did even better than expected, opening in fourth place with an estimated $34.2 million through Sunday and a likely $44.0 million by the end of the holiday. It’s the first major animated family film since The Croods opened 10 weeks ago, so the marketplace was hungry.

LOSER OF THE WEEK: The Hangover Part III. Months ago, the head-to-head opening of Fast 6 and Hangover III looked like an evenly-matched sausage-fest showdown. But it wasn’t even close. Hangover opened in second place, but with just an estimated $42.4 million over three days, meaning perhaps $51 million by Monday.

Its take through Sunday is about half of the three-day debut logged by The Hangover Part II ($86.0 million) two years ago. Of course, that second Hangover squandered most of the goodwill earned by the first, and even though this final installment promised to change gears, it still earned a B from CinemaScore, indicating just so-so word-of-mouth. Even Epic managed to steal some of its thunder.

‘MIDNIGHT’ MOVIE By one measure, the most eagerly awaited sequel of the weekend was Before Midnight, the third in the every-nine-years series of glimpses into the transatlantic romance of Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy). It opened on just five screens but earned an estimated $274,000 from Friday to Sunday, for a per-screen average of $54,800. That’s by far the highest per-screen average of any movie this week; Fast 6 earned about half that per venue ($26,935). Also opening strong in limited release were Israeli Oscar entry Fill the Void ($60,400 on three screens), documentary We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks ($29,000 on four screens), and A Pig Across Paris ($10,000 at one venue).

EA announces Need for Speed Rivals

According to EA, Rivals features a new gameplay mode call AllDrive, which blurs the lines between single player and multiplayer mode. You can be playing a single player game and your friend elsewhere in the world may also be playing a single player game. Because you are friends within the game, Rivals will merge your game worlds so that you may find yourself bumping into each other at some point in the game.

You could be playing as a street racer and one of your rivals may end up being your friends. Or you could be a cop and the guy you are chasing could be your friend. The game will indicate you of the presence of your friend in the game world and you don’t have to take any special effort to enable or play a dedicated multiplayer mode. Both you and your friend are still playing as single players but since it’s the same world you may also end up playing against each other.

Other than that, Rivals also runs on the next generation Frostbite 3 engine, which we first saw in the Battefield 4 demo. The new engine offers even more realism through some stunning graphics, which you can see from the short teaser video below. Need for Speed Rivals is being developed by a new game studio called Ghost in collaboration with Criterion, who made the previous Need for Speed: Most Wanted (2012) and Hot Pursuit games, along with the popular Burnout series.

The game is set to launch on November 19, 2013 and can be pre-ordered from EA’s website right now

Defeat your rivals by any means necessary

Racers are lone wolves out for their own glory; driving agile cars built for high speed racing and epic chases. Cops work in teams to hunt down and bust racers using the full power of the police force.

Switch roles at any time and watch the stakes grow in an all-new scoring system that lets you put your speed points on the line to earn even greater rewards.

Destroying the line between singleplayer and multiplayer

New in Need for Speed Rivals, All-Drive destroys the line between singleplayer and multiplayer gameplay. Seamlessly join a world where your friends are already racing and chasing. No lobbies. No waiting.

Paths cross and experiences merge, creating a world where your race and your friend’s pursuit collide

Experience speed that you can truly feel

The power of the Frostbite 3 gaming engine brings the breathtaking scope and high speed action of Redview County to life. Every detail of the game world is rendered in stunning, high definition, next generation graphics, while weather conditions constantly change as you race and chase in snow, hail, rain, dust storms and heavy fog.

Connect with the Need for Speed Network to drop roadblocks or alert friends of inbound cops. Compare your progress against your rivals and share pictures of your best races and chases.

Personalize your cars with performance and style

Power up your car with the latest upgrades in pursuit technology and personalize your bodywork with fresh paintjobs, liveries, custom license plates, rims, and decals to show off your car to the world.

Save different configurations and keep a variety of car packages on alert to leave your mark no matter the situation

Use the latest technology and upgrades customized to each side of the law

Intense racing moments are made even more thrilling with access to technology and upgrades customized to each side of the law.

Racers can choose evasion technology from jammers to electromagnetic pulses. Cops are outfitted for aggressive busts with shockwaves, roadblocks, helicopter support and more. No matter the side you choose, use technology to stay one step ahead of your rivals

iPhone 5S may sport sapphire crystal capacitive Home button with fingerprint sensor!

The Home button has got to be one of the defining features of the iPhone’s clean rounded rectangular design. Whereas some other manufacturers add a bunch of physical buttons to their gadgets, Apple instead has moved all controls to the iOS software, leaving only the Home button on the iPhone’s face.

That could change with the iPhone 5S, the next iPhone refresh expected later this year. If a new rumor is to be believed, Apple will for the first time replace the iPhone’s Home button – prone to failure after long periods of use – with its capacitive counterpart.

This isn’t new: many Android handsets have touch-enabled “buttons” like Samsung’s Galaxy S series, for example. Apple’s innovation, the story goes, involves using sapphire crystal to prevent scratches and dings and protect the integrated fingerprint sensor…

Taiwanese publication TechNews Tuesday (via Cult of Mac) quoted Apple supply chain sources who are adamant that Apple has opted to use sapphire crystal for the Home button on the iPhone 5S.

Analysts think fingerprint scanning is one of the killer features of the iPhone 5S. Just yesterday, PayPal said it expected the next iPhone to kill passwords once and for all by focusing on a more reliable and stronger fingerprint-based authentication method.

Replacing the current Home button with a non-moving counterpart wouldn’t be out of character for Apple. Remember, the company replaced the original iPod’s mechanical click wheel with a touch-sensitive variant on the second-generation model.

Notably, Apple currently uses sapphire crystal to protect the iPhone 5′s back camera lens from scratches.

Sapphire crystal has a hardness second only to diamond and is used because of its compatibility with optic sensors, Apple explains on the iPhone 5 web page:

Although the surface of the iSight camera is as clear as glass, it’s not made of glass. It’s actually sapphire crystal, whose hardness is second only to diamond on the scale of transparent materials. That means the surface of the lens is far less likely to scratch.

The rumor actually makes a whole lot of sense.

If Apple is to integrate fingerprint sensor right underneath the Home button, as rumored, while at the same time move to a capacitive touch-enabled Home button variant, protecting the whole sensitive assembly from physical damage would be prudent.