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Posted: December 31, 2013

Britney's back!

Britney Spears popped up Friday in Las Vegas with a show that looks a lot like the eye-popping Cirque du Soleil productions on the Strip (acrobatics, confetti, ring of fire), plus frenetic costume changes, her live band, and herself, often airborne.

The debut of her 50-show-a-year 2014-15 Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino gig kept a young-for-Vegas audience of 4,500 on its feet for 90 minutes. Selena Gomez, Miley Cyrus, and Katy Perry were there to lend support to the 32-year-old Spears, who handled the physically grueling nonstop movement with aplomb and musical polish.

Less than desolate

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug remained the top film in U.S. and Canadian theaters for a third weekend as 2013 sales neared an annual record. The second in Peter Jackson's Hobbit series generated $29.9 million for Warner Bros. and MGM Holdings Inc. Disney's animated Frozen took the No. 2 position, with $28.9 million; its total take was $248.4 million since opening in late November.

Paramount comedies held two top-five slots. Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues was No. 3 with $20.2 million, and The Wolf of Wall Street snagged No. 5, earning $19 million after opening at No. 2 on Christmas Day. At No. 4, Sony's American Hustle earned $19.6 million.

The strong lineup of weekend films is carrying sales at U.S. and Canadian theaters toward the $10.8 billion annual record set last year, according to Rentrak Corp.

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