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Several of the real-life heroes whose actions in rescuing a soccer team from a flooded cave in Thailand made world headlines a year ago this month will play themselves in upcoming movie “The Cave.” They include rescue diver Jim Warny from Belgium, dive instructors Erik Brown from Canada and Mikko Paasi from Finland, and Chinese […] | 7/11/19
Watch the Buenos Aires crowd go wild as Argentina win gold in 3x3 basketball at the Youth Olympic Games, with a 20-15 victory over Belgium. | 10/18/18
On Thursday, July 26, many Russians could see the phantom of the good old iron curtain falling between Russia and the West. The news came from the press secretary of the Russian Union of Travel Industry, Irina Tyurina. Last week, United Russia MPs proposed amending the federal law about the procedure to leave and enter the territory of the Russian Federation. In accordance with these amendments, the Russian Ministry for Foreign Affairs should hold mandatory accreditation of all companies rendering intermediary visa registration services to Russian citizens. In order to obtain accreditation, a visa issuance company is supposed to have representative offices in at least 20 regions of the Russian Federation, whereas the share of foreign participation in the authorized capital of the company should not exceed 20 percent. In addition, applicants should have certified technical means to process confidential information (including biometric personal data). The amendments also require at least three years of experience in collecting and processing documents for obtaining visas on behalf of diplomatic missions and consular missions.According to the press secretary of the Russian Union of Travel Industry, Irina Tyurina, none of  existing operators can meet the criteria proposed in the draft law. For example, it is unclear how they should comply with the requirement of foreign participation. Presently, there are six companies that run visa service centers in Russia: VFS Global, GVCW - Greece, VMS - Italy, BLS - Spain, India, TLS - Great Britain, Switzerland, Belgium and Pony Express. The information on each of these companies is available to the public in the state register of legal entities.It is unlikely that these companies can be replaced with Russian ones: even if they meet all other requirements, Russian companies will not have three years of experience in rendering visa services. Needless to say that the adoption of amendments will trigger a mirror response from other countries. In this case, big plans to attract foreign tourists to Russia, especially after the World Cup, may not materialize.To make matters worse, residents of Russians regions will have to come to Moscow to get a visa to a foreign country. They will also have to spend many hours standing in long lines to visa departments of foreign embassies, as it was practiced during the 2000s. In a nutshell, all this is nothing but bad news that, if it becomes real, will complicate the lives of all Russian travelers. The news triggered countless "iron curtain" discussions in social media in Russia. The "iron curtain" has many holes in it as Russia has visa-free regime with many countries. Yet, the curtain would be very strong when it comes to a trip to Europe or to the States. Deputy Chairman of the State Duma Committee for Physical Culture, Sport, Tourism and Youth Affairs, Sergei Krivonosov, (United Russia) said that the Russian authorities, on the contrary, seek to minimize visa restrictions."At the initiative of the president, we are currently preparing proposals to simplify visa procedures. There are a number of countries that have already simplified the procedure to issue visas for Russian citizens. I haven't heard of the initiative that you're talking about. The State Duma's Subcommittee on Tourism (Sergei Krivonosov heads it - ed.) works to simplify visa procedures," the MP told Pravda.Ru. "We do want to make the procedure simpler, because we've had problems with bankruptcies of tour operators. We believe that an electronic visa can help. I am sure that there is no iron curtain of any type involved," Sergei Krivonosov added. Oleg ArtyukovPravda.Ru Read article on the Russian version of Pravda.Ru

Dwayne Johnson got his 2018 off to a huge start when “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” became Sony’s biggest hit in years with $961 million grossed worldwide. But he’s followed it with two straight box office underperformers: First New Line’s “Rampage” in April and now Universal’s “Skyscraper,” which opened this weekend to $25 million domestic and just $65 million worldwide from 57 countries.

With a $120 million budget before marketing costs, Universal and Legendary face an uphill battle toward profitability for this action film. (“Rampage” had the same reported budget and topped out under $100 million domestically — though it grossed an impressive $327 million overseas.”)

While audiences who did see “Skyscraper” were fairly positive with a B+ on CinemaScore, that’s below the A given to previous Johnson films like “Rampage” and “San Andreas,” meaning word-of-mouth is weaker.

What led to this disappointing result for Hollywood’s biggest box office star? There are several factors…

1. Weak pre-release buzz

“Skyscraper” may be the only major July release that isn’t attached to a pre-existing franchise, but the trailers failed to draw up any pre-release buzz for the film. In addition, critics said that outside of Johnson’s performance as an amputee former FBI agent trying to stop terrorists, there’s not much to separate the film from previous high-rise action thrillers like “Die Hard.”

Also Read: Dwayne Johnson's 'Improbable' Crane Jump in 'Skyscraper': 'We Did the Math,' Says Director

“‘Die Hard’ endures — and has spawned scores of imitators — because it had top-notch action, great characters (including one of the most charismatic villains in screen history), palpable suspense and a heroic story of one good guy facing insurmountable odds taking on a team of baddies,” said Detroit News’ Adam Graham. “Director John McTiernan brought it all to a steady boil with a kinetic, fluid sense of motion and delivered an action movie classic. All ‘Skyscraper’ has going for it is a tall building.”

That sense of “I’ve seen this before” can be poison to a film’s box office chances, especially when you’re facing…

2. Heavy competition

“Hotel Transylvania 3” probably didn’t cut all that much into “Skyscraper”‘s totals, considering Sony’s animated film caters mostly to out-of-school kids and their families. But “Skyscraper” was going up against a second-weekend “Ant-Man and the Wasp,” which made $29 million this weekend, while June hits “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” and “Incredibles 2” continue to endure at the box office with $16 million each.

All three franchise films have had better word-of-mouth than “Skyscraper” and ended up serving as major four-quadrant competition for the action film both in the U.S. and internationally. But those films weren’t the only entertainment options available this weekend.

Also Read: Dwayne Johnson's 'Skyscraper' Performance Praised by Critics as Support for 'Silly' Movie

3. The World Cup Final

This is more for the film’s overseas launch than it is for its North American performance, but with Belgium and England competing in the third place match of the FIFA World Cup, and France and Croatia competing for the title this weekend, soccer was likely on the minds of many potential moviegoers.

Disney has held back the release date of “Ant-Man and the Wasp” in Western Europe until next weekend, while “Skyscraper” did not earn more than $5 million in any single overseas market. The film opened to $2.3 million in the U.K., while Korea was the top international market with $4.6 million. The film now turns to China, where Legendary East will handle distribution when it comes out next weekend.

Also Read: Dwayne Johnson Explains Why He Stopped Going by 'The Rock' for a While (Video)

4. Too much Dwayne?

It would be an overreaction to say that audiences are growing tired of Dwayne Johnson. The runaway success of “Jumanji” is proof of his box office draw in an era of franchises. But “Skyscraper” may have shown the limits of his drawing ability, and the fact that this is his fifth film in 14 months might have had something to do with it.

“Dwayne’s work ethic is second-to-none in this industry right now. The guy ensures that there’s no lack of his presence with ‘Ballers’ on TV and several films coming out each year,” said comScore’s Paul Dergarabedian.

“But as with any popular franchises or stars, there can be too much of a good thing. ‘Jumanji’ had a very long run in theaters to start off the year, and then Johnson was right back in theaters with ‘Rampage,'” Dergarabedian continued. “Audiences might have already gotten their fill of him for now, and the weaker reviews for ‘Skyscraper’ served as a sign for audiences that there’s no need to go right back to theaters for another round.”

After “Skyscraper,” Johnson will be absent from cinemas for about a year. But in July 2019, he will be back with Universal to release “Hobbs & Shaw,” a spin-off of his and Jason Statham’s “Fast & Furious” characters that will serve as the studio’s summer tentpole. Expect The Rock to get back to his money-making ways then.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Dwayne Johnson's 'Improbable' Crane Jump in 'Skyscraper': 'We Did the Math,' Says Director

Dwayne Johnson: Feud With Tyrese Over 'Fast & Furious' Spinoff Is 'One-Sided'

Dwayne Johnson's 'Skyscraper' Performance Praised by Critics as Support for 'Silly' Movie | 7/16/18

Sport in Belgium plays a prominent role in the society. As of 2010, Belgium counted around 17,000 sport clubs with approximately 1.35 million members, thus 13% of the Belgian population is involved in sport. Popular sports in Belgium are among others football, cycling, tennis, table tennis, athletics, swimming, basketball, badminton, judo, hockey, motocross, auto racing, volleyball and running. Belgium has organized the 1920 Olympic Games in Antwerp as well as the 1972 UEFA European Championship and the 2000 UEFA European Championship along with the Netherlands. The Belgium national football team best result was a 4th place at the 1986 FIFA World Cup and a second place of the 1980 UEFA European Championship. Belgian football clubs have won 3 times the UEFA Cup Winners Cup and twice the UEFA Cup, plus 3 times the UEFA Supercup. Belgium has won 37 gold medals at Summer Olympic Games as well as 1 medal at Winter Olympic Games for figure skating at the 1948 Winter Olympics in St. Moritz. Among the 37 gold medals at the Summer Olympics, 11 medals were won in archery, 6 in cycling, 4 in equestrian, 3 in athletics and fencing and 2 in sailing and judo. Well-known Belgian olympic champions are Hubert Van Innis and Edmond Cloetens (archery), Gaston Roelants and Tia Hellebaut (athletics), Patrick Sercu and Roger Ilegems (track cycling), Robert Van de Walle and Ulla Werbrouck (judo), Frédérik Deburghgraeve (swimming) and Justine Henin (tennis). Other well-known Belgian sport champions are Roger Moens, Ivo Van Damme and Kim Gevaert (athletics), Bart Veldkamp, Ingrid Lempereur (swimming), Gella Vandecaveye, Heidi Rakels and Harry Van Barneveld (judo), Eddy Merckx, Rik Van Looy, Roger De Vlaeminck, Lucien Van Impe, Johan Bruyneel, Johan Museeuw, Axel Merckx and Tom Boonen (cycling), Raymond Ceulemans, Jacky Ickx and Thierry Boutsen, Stefan Everts and Gaston Rahier (motocross) and Jean-Michel Saive (table tennis), Kim Clijsters (tennis), Sven Nys and Vincent Rousseau (running). In team sports, well-known footballers include Jean-Marie Pfaff, Eric Gerets, Enzo Scifo, Michel Preud'homme, Franky Van Der Elst, Luc Nilis and Jan Ceulemans and well-known basketball players include Ann Wauters, Eric Struelens, Axel Hervelle and D. J. Mbenga. International Olympic Committee president Count Jacques Rogge is a Belgian. As a sub-area of culture in Belgium, sport is now considered to fall under the responsibility of the 3 Belgian communities. With the exception of football and field hockey, all other major sport federations in Belgium are split into 2 major federations (a French-speaking federation and a Dutch-speaking federation).

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