‘Hunger Games’ feeds fan cravings with 2nd box office win

Filmgoers brought big appetites for “The Hunger Games” to box offices over the weekend as the blockbuster movie added $95.9 million in global ticket sales and pushed the worldwide total since its record-setting debut to $365 million.

The Lions Gate Entertainment <LGF.N> movie about teenagers forced into a deadly survival match ranked No. 1 for the second straight weekend on domestic charts. Ticket sales in the United States and Canada reached an estimated $61.1 million from Friday through Sunday, according to studio estimates. 

At international theaters, “Hunger Games” pulled in $34.8 million over the weekend. The massive worldwide total since the movie’s release 10 days ago reached $364.9 million. 

The film dropped 60 percent domestically from its huge opening a week ago. The drop is consistent with the performances of other big film franchises such as “Twilight” and “Harry Potter,” said David Spitz, executive vice president of domestic distribution for Lions Gate Entertainment <LGF.N>. 

“That shows the staying power of the film. Word of mouth is clearly taking hold,” Spitz said. 

Filmgoers to eat up more ‘Hunger Games’

By the size of last weekend’s lines, you’d think everyone had already seen “The Hunger Games.” But box office watchers are predicting another big turnout for the post-apocalyptic action movie this weekend.  

The record-setting Lions Gate blockbuster that stormed into theaters last Friday should pull in another $60 million or more in the United States and Canada, according to a forecast from


A tally like that would land the movie about teens forced to fight to the death among the top second-weekend performers of all time. “Hunger Games” would rank seventh on that list if it hits $60 million, according to website Box Office Mojo. The record for second-weekend ticket sales belongs, unsurprisingly, to 2009′s “Avatar.” That movie took in $75.6 million during its second weekend and went on to become the highest-grossing film ever.

Tech’s forbidden touch

“You can look, but you can’t touch” – great advice in most museums, and every strip club. But it makes no sense when it comes to our computers. We are getting very touchy-feely with our smartphones and tablets, and this is how it should be. Even BlackBerry and Amazon’s Kindle, which launched with hardware keyboards to differentiate it from the competition, have abandoned them.

It’s no accident. We touch instinctively. We are born touching everything, and only learn where the boundaries are later in life. Our handheld devices are reconnecting us with the primary technique we used to learn about the world we had just entered. The metaphor extends. Now it’s the mobile computers that we use to learn about the world around us, and we control them with our fingers, by touching a screen. How do you place a price on that?

Many are trying, thanks to software patents. Patents have become a bane to the very essence of innovation. They are arsenals, ostensibly meant to defend but more often used to offend. Yahoo’s lawsuit against Facebook over 10 patents further proves that weaponizing software patents is the last gasp of a dying business.

The high costs of the cloud

How great is it that high-definition video is now portable? Thanks to cloud computing, superfast 4G networks and tablets with high-resolution screens, we can watch thousands of movies and TV shows in lush, beautiful clarity wherever we go.

In a way, that is pretty great, as the millions of people who have bought the new iPad with retina display and LTE connections have already seen. But in another way, it’s going to quickly become not so great: As hi-def video – or rather, the data bandwidth to deliver it – becomes a commodity for more people, that commodity will start to become much more expensive. Not just for consumers, but for the companies that will increasingly need more wireless spectrum and wired infrastructure to handle the surge in data demand.

Call it the curse of the cloud. The proliferation of online video services and portable devices to watch them on have added congestion to data networks even as wireless carriers impose fees on its biggest data users. According to Bytemobile, video accounted for half of all mobile data traffic in February, up from 40 percent only a year earlier.

Can’t find a socket to charge your phone? IDT’s got a solution.

IDT’s wireless recharging chips, on right, versus a rival product.

(Updates with cost details)

Ted Tewksbury wants to get rid your iPhone cable.

The chief executive of San Jose, California-based Integrated Device Technology is pushing a set of microchips he hopes will eventually render “contactless charging” — charging your smartphone by simply placing it on a specific spot — commonplace and eventually make phone-charging cables a thing of the past.

On a recent visit to IDT’s offices, Tewksbury showed me the chips he’s just started selling. They’re IDT”s twist on existing technology, using inductive coupling, which has yet to reach critical mass.

VC Bessemer discovers Internets, mulls duck mascot

An Onion-style take on the standard press release from Bessemer. Don’t be fooled by their Luddite posturing– these guys have invested in plenty of high-tech companies, including Skype and LinkedIn.

Asks People Not to Visit Until They’re Sure It Works

Bessemer Venture Partners today admitted that they knew they had an awkward and out-of-date website.  “It was like the 70’s shag carpet you bring to a marriage straight from your dorm room” said Bob Goodman.  “At first your spouse doesn’t object too much because of the sentimental attachment, but after a while it starts to smell and she starts referring to it as ‘that thing’.  That was our Web site…so we drew straws and the loser had to oversee a rebuild.”

Eventbrite gets into the dongle business

Eventbrite, the ticketing and events start-up run by Kevin and Julia Hartz, unveiled its own dongle on Tuesday, following tech companies such as eBay Inc’s PayPal and Jack Dorsey’s Square Inc.

PayPal launched a blue triangular card reader, or dongle, last week to help small merchants accept credit and debit card payments through iPhones. The company said on Tuesday that about 24,000 merchants ordered the gadget in the first 24 hours after launch.

Square  has a square shaped dongle that has been a big hit with small business owners, many of whom previously could not accept cards.

Comic ’21 Jump Street’ leads box office

 A comic spin on 1980s television hit “21 Jump Street” nabbed the No. 1 slot on North American movie box office charts over the weekend, beating forecasts and knocking two-time winner “The Lorax” to second place. 

“Jump Street” locked up an estimated $35.0 million in U.S. and Canadian ticket sales from Friday through Sunday, according to studio estimates compiled by Reuters. The performance prompted distributor Sony to order a sequel. 

The movie stars Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum as bumbling young cops who go undercover to bust a high-school drug ring. The TV show was a more serious teen drama that launched the career of Johnny Depp, who appeared in a cameo in the new film.  

Psssttt, Hey you, at Yahoo – You wanna make 25 grand?

Here’s one good thing about being a Yahoo employee: if you quit and join Yammer, a social networking service for businesses, in the next 60 days you’ll pocket a $25,000 signing bonus.

That’s the offer that was tweeted on Thursday by Yammer CEO David Sacks.

“They’ve got a lot of great engineers there,” Sacks said in an interview with Reuters. “The talent has been misused by senior management which has made a lot of bad decisions.”

Of course, when Sacks (whose credits include producing and financing the 2005 film Thank You For Smoking)  isn’t whispering sweet come-ons to Yahoo employees, he’s holding a gun to their heads. Infuriated by Yahoo’s controversial decision to sue Facebook for patent infringement, he vowed a day earlier that he would never hire another Yahoo employee that doesn’t leave the company in the next 60 days.

Amazon rushes out new ‘retina display’ iPad optimized Kindle app

Many tablet fans — both of Amazon and Apple — use their tablets essentially as an e-reader. Some use the iBooks app while many others read on iPad’s Kindle app.

With the new iPad’s high-resolution screen that Apple has dubbed “retina display,” reading a book was supposed to be much more of a pleasure than usual. But for one wrinkle — the Kindle app had been not ‘optimized’ or rewritten for the higher resolution, at least for the review copies of the new iPad. In plain English that meant the text looked the same as before to iPad reviewers. 

Amazon has now a “retina display”-ready Kindle update and it’s arrived just in time as the new iPad went on sale in Australia and will launch in the United States on Friday as part of a rolling global launch of the new device.