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The Jungle Book makes a hit in India too

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Cast member Neel Sethi poses at the premiere of "The Jungle Book" at El Capitan theatre in Hollywood, California April 4, 2016. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni
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Director of the movie Jon Favreau (R) poses with cast members (L-R) Ritesh Rajan, Giancarlo Esposito, Lupita Nyong'o, Neel Sethi and Ben Kingsley at the premiere of "The Jungle Book" at El Capitan theatre in Hollywood, California April 4, 2016. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni
Director of the movie Jon Favreau (R) poses with cast members (L-R) Ritesh Rajan, Giancarlo Esposito, Lupita Nyong’o, Neel Sethi and Ben Kingsley at the premiere of “The Jungle Book” at El Capitan theatre in Hollywood, California April 4, 2016. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

By Dave McNary

LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) – Disney’s “The Jungle Book” showed serious traction at the North American box office, dominating moviegoing for a second straight weekend with $60.8 million at 4,028 locations.

The family-friendly tentpole declined only 41% from its opening frame and left Universal’s launch of “The Huntsman: Winter’s War” in the dust with $20 million at 3,791 locations.

“The Jungle Book” posted the best second weekend of 2016, topping the $56.5 million second frame for “Deadpool,” and will wind up the weekend with $191.5 million after ten days — already the fourth-largest 2016 title behind “Deadpool” at $361 million, “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” at $319 million and “Zootopia” at $316.4 million.

Internationally, the results are equally impressive with an additional $96 million and a decline of only 32% from the prior weekend for an international total of $337 million and global cume to date of $528 million. “The Jungle Book” is the highest-grossing Hollywood release in India with $28.8 million and is less than $3 million short of the $100 million mark in China.

“The Huntsman: Winter’s War,” starring Chris Hemsworth, Jessica Chastain and Charlize Theron, debuted at the low end of forecasts in North America with $20.1 million amid mostly downbeat reviews and a B+ CinemaScore. The audience was 61% female and 53% under 30.

The prequel to 2012’s “Snow White and the Huntsman” carries a price tag of $115 million, so the studio will need a strong international performance to break even. “The Huntsman: Winter’s War” had already opened in 27 foreign territories last weekend and added 37 more for a weekend of $32.1 million in 64 territories for an international total of $80.2 million.

In China, “The Huntsman” opened in third place with $11.1 million at 5,932 sites behind the second week of “The Jungle Book” and a local film.

The first “Huntsman,” starring Kristen Stewart as Snow White, was a solid box office performer with a $56.2 million opening weekend in the U.S. on its way to a $155 million domestic total, plus another $241 million overseas.

Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst with ComScore, noted that the new “Huntsman” had been hit by tough reviews while the original benefited from Stewart’s participation while she was starring in the “Twilight” franchise.

He added that the sterling performance by “The Jungle Book” signals strong continued moviegoing in the upcoming weeks with Disney-Marvel’s “Captain America: Civil War” launching on May 6.

“You could not ask for a better lead in for the upcoming start of the summer movie season of 2016 than ‘The Jungle Book,'” Dergarabedian said. “Its incredible (and somewhat unexpected) success is stoking the fires of box office momentum and is loading up multiplexes with herds of film fans of all ages who are getting pumped up and ready for the official start on May 6 with the incredible ‘Captain America: Civil War’ and then the onslaught of blockbuster hopefuls from every studio week after week.”

“‘The Jungle Book’ proves that a four-quadrant PG-rated movie can have appeal to virtually every demographic and with the quality of moviemaking to back up the hype, the results have been staggering,” he added.

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Madhya Pradesh Waives off $5.3Bn in Farm Debt

The western state of Maharashtra and northern state of Uttar Pradesh, both ruled by the BJP, announced similar loan waivers last year.

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India, farmers, farm
Farmers march towards the parliament house during a rally to protest soaring farm operating costs and plunging prices of their produce, in New Delhi, India. VOA

The new leader of the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh is to waive up to $5.3 billion of farm loans, becoming the latest area to offer relief ahead of a national election next year as farmers reel from losses caused by falling crop prices.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party lost the central state to Congress last week dealing Modi his biggest defeat since he took office in 2014 and boosting the opposition ahead of the vote next year.

Congress leader Kamal Nath, who became chief minister of the state on Monday, decided to write off farmers’ loans up to 200,000 rupees, according to a notification.

farmers, Bank
Police try to stop farmers during a protest demanding a better price for their produce on the outskirts of New Delhi, India. VOA

Protests on the rise

Farmers’ protests have been rising in past months due to the fall in crop prices and a rise in the cost of diesel and fertilizer.

Nearly 3.4 million farmers will benefit from the loan waiver, which is likely to cost between 350 billion rupees ($4.9 billion) to 380 billion rupees ($5.3 billion), Rajesh Rajora, the state’s principal secretary for agriculture, told Reuters.

Also Read: Arvind Kejriwal Accuses Modi Government of Betraying Farmers

The western state of Maharashtra and northern state of Uttar Pradesh, both ruled by the BJP, announced similar loan waivers last year. (VOA)