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How did My Big Fat Greek Wedding make so much money?

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When Romance Met ComedyWhen Romance Met ComedyWith When Romance Met Comedy, Caroline Siede examines the history of the rom-com through the years, one happily ever after (or not) at a time.

Last year, Avengers: Endgame made a huge splash when it finally broke Avatar’s 10-year reign as the highest grossing film of all time. But one record has held even longer. For the past 18 years, My Big Fat Greek Wedding has topped the domestic box office charts as the highest grossing romantic comedy ever made. It earned $241.4 million in North American markets, a higher domestic total than Justice League, Mission: Impossible—Fallout, or the latest Fast & Furious movie. That’s all the more impressive considering My Big Fat Greek Wedding was a small independent film with no big-name stars made for $5 million and put out in limited release in April. In fact, the original plan had been to skip a theatrical release all together and just release it as a TV movie on HBO.

Yet in 2002, My Big Fat Greek Wedding became the kind of sleeper hit that creators and studios only dream about. It never actually reached the number one spot at the box office, but it hung around theaters for almost a year, eventually delivering a 6150% return on its investment and a worldwide box office total of $368.7 million. A couple other rom-coms have earned more worldwide, including Pretty Womanwhich still holds the distinction of being the rom-com with the most tickets sold domestically. But by pretty much any metric, My Big Fat Greek Wedding was an astronomical success.

And even the film’s most ardent fans might find that a little baffling. My Big Fat Greek Wedding is a perfectly affable family-themed romance written by and starring Second City alum Nia Vardalos, but it hardly seems like the kind of film to break box office stats and remain a record-holder for nearly two decades. (And it’s not even close—My Big Fat Greek Wedding is nearly $60 million ahead of its next closest competitor, the Mel Gibson-led studio comedy What Women Want.) So how did it become the little movie that could?

One unexpected factor is Rita Wilson. My Big Fat Greek Wedding started life as a one-woman play about Vardalos’ experience growing up in a big Greek family in Winnipeg, Canada and marrying her non-Greek then-husband, actor Ian Gomez (who has a small role in the film version). Wilson is Greek herself and related to Vardalos’ childhood anecdotes. Her husband, Tom Hanks, related to the story of an overwhelmed man marrying into a big Greek family. Wilson and Hanks offered to produce a film version under his Playtone production company. And while other interested studios wanted to get a bankable star or change the ethnicity of the family to something less niche, Hanks and Wilson were committed to bringing Vardalos’ original vision to life with her in the leading role.

My Big Fat Greek Wedding pulls heavily from the Moonstruck template with a touch of While You Were Sleeping and a cheery broadness courtesy of long-time TV director Joel Zwick. Vardalos stars as Fotoula “Toula” Portokalos, a mousy, unmotivated 30-year-old who’s yet to fulfill her overbearing family’s command that she marry a nice Greek boy and have lots of babies. She whiles away her days working at her family’s Chicago restaurant until she finally decides to claim a little independence by enrolling in a computer class at a local community college. That first step outside the smothering family bubble builds her confidence and inspires a self-given makeover. She soon catches the eye of Ian Miller (John Corbett), a soft-spoken high school teacher who likes her so much he’s more than willing to dive into her big Greek world, even if he doesn’t quite understand it.

Riding high off his turn as Aidan in Sex And The City, Corbett was offered the leading man role on the spot when Vardalos and producer Gary Goetzman happened to overhear him in a Toronto bar discussing how much he wanted to audition for this great Greek script he just read. One really lovely thing about My Big Fat Greek Wedding is that because the comedy and drama mostly stem from the over-the-top family dynamics, Toula and Ian are able to have a charmingly low-key love story. They go on dates, they make out, they somewhat casually get engaged while lying in the bed. There’s some tension when it comes to meeting each other’s families, but it never feels like a real threat to their relationship. When Toula’s patriarchal father Costas a.k.a. “Gus” (Michael Constantine) forbids Ian from dating his daughter, Ian takes the news calmly and then tells Toula he’ll see her tomorrow. For as goofy as My Big Fat Greek Wedding gets, the Toula/Ian love story looks more like a healthy grown-up relationship than what a lot of romantic comedies offer.

But the kookiness of Toula’s family is definitely the movie’s big selling point. Though My Big Fat Greek Wedding might not have stars, it’s packed full of memorable supporting players, ranging from Tony Award-winning SCTV alum Andrea Martin as oversharing Aunt Voula to NSYNC’s Joey Fatone as boisterous Cousin Angelo. Vardalos took inspiration from her real-life family and friends but turned their personalities “up to 20.” (The Portokalos’ Parthenon-inspired home really does exist, however, and was only slightly gaudied up for the film.) Gus is probably the most memorable supporting player, thanks to his obsession with finding a Greek origin for every word and his belief in Windex as a magical cure-all. Yet it’s Toula’s mom Maria (Lainie Kazan) who best embodies the mix of comedy and heart that defines the Greek characters, who nimbly shift back and forth between broad sitcom caricatures and more grounded family pathos.

The single biggest key to My Big Fat Greek Wedding’s appeal is its sharp observation that when it comes down to it, there are basically only two kinds of families in the world—those with two first cousins and those with 27. So even though the movie digs into the specifics of the Greek immigrant experience, it’s relatable to a whole bunch of different cultures. (In real life, Martin is Armenian, Fatone is Italian, and Kazan is Jewish.) And if you don’t see your own family reflected in the big, boisterous, food-obsessed Portokalos brood, you get to gawk at that eccentric world while relating to the lighthearted satirical jabs at Ian’s uptight, bundt-cake-loving WASP parents. There’s something for everyone in a lighthearted cross-cultural comedy where everybody gets teased in equal measure and everything works out okay in the end.

Toula herself is a winning avatar for the broad spectrum of women who might self-describe their childhood self as “a swarthy 6-year-old with sideburns.” On the other hand, My Big Fat Greek Wedding is also a movie about otherness in which everyone is white. That probably didn’t hurt the broad commercial appeal of its cultural specificity. Nor did its PG rating. Particularly in a year where other PG family films skewed action-oriented—like Attack Of The Clones and Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets—My Big Fat Greek Wedding was an option you could truly bring the whole family to, from pre-teens to grandmas. As Vardalos put it at the time, “Our demographic is anybody with a family that drives them crazy, or anybody who has ever had to plan a wedding, a funeral, or a vacation.”

Yet Vardalos also admitted, “We got lucky. You can’t manufacture word of mouth. You can’t pay people to tell their 10 cousins.” Although My Big Fat Greek Wedding was warmly but not exactly glowingly received by critics, word of mouth kept the film alive for its phenomenal run, at least until that run became a story unto itself. My Big Fat Greek Wedding enjoyed its largest weekend box-office haul (about $11 million) four months after it opened, which is basically unheard of. The film rode its wave of success all the way to an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay for Vardalos.

It’s a phenomenon Hollywood could never replicate again, although not for lack of trying. A CBS sitcom adaptation called My Big Fat Greek Life starred most of the original cast and enjoyed a splashy debut, but swiftly declined in ratings and was cancelled after seven episodes. Vardalos failed to find success revisiting the Greek-heritage theme in My Life In Ruins or reteaming with Corbett for I Hate Valentine’s Day, which she also wrote and directed. In 2016, My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 amiably revisited the greatest hits from the original, yet enjoyed nowhere near the same box office returns.

Rewatching My Big Fat Greek Wedding today, it neither feels like an overrated fluke nor an underrated masterpiece. It’s a charming crowdpleaser that hits a mark that’s ultimately not all that high. Still, in a genre that so often positions proposals and weddings as the be-all-end-all of romance, it’s refreshing that My Big Fat Greek Wedding has its two leads take a more relaxed approach to their titular event. One of the sweetest scenes comes near the end of the film, as Ian and Toula spend the limo ride from their church service to their reception laughing at the over-the-top bridal styling her aunts have forced on her. The newlyweds already understand that comprise is a part of life and marriage isn’t defined by one single day. My Big Fat Greek Wedding may not break the feel-good romance mold, but when it comes to rom-com chart toppers, you could certainly do far, far worse.

Next time: Doris Day and Rock Hudson became an iconic duo in just three films.

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How Las Vegas became the world’s casino capital

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These days, it’s impossible to think of Las Vegas without the image of the lights on the strip and glamorous casinos coming to mind. But the Vegas we know of 2020 wasn’t always that way; and it took a long, long time to get its reputation for being the world’s casino capital. Let’s take a trip down memory lane and get to the root of how Las Vegas became the city that never sleeps.

A historical journey

It’s hard to believe these days, but the Las Vegas region was once an abundant marshland stock full of rich vegetation. That is, until the marsh receded, and the waters disappeared, transforming the landscape into a desert, with the trapped water underground sprouting life and forming an oasis.

It was during the 19th century that the explorer Antonio Armijo from Mexico foraged the way from New Mexico to California on the first commercial caravan. It was a member of the group, Rafael Rivera who rode west to find water and venture through the desert, setting his eyes upon Las Vegas Springs. Las Vegas was therefore named ‘the meadows’ after the grasses found growing there.

Years went on and both Mormon and Mexican settlers began to filter through. In 1890 it was decided by railroad developers that Las Vegas would serve as a spot along the San Pedro, Salt Lake City and Los Angeles railroad route as well as connecting to major cities along the Pacific Coast. From there on, Vegas boomed with stores, boarding houses and saloons popping up around the area. This was the beginning of the Las Vegas as we know it — with railroad workers and ranchers enjoying the gambling and drinking through illegal speakeasies and bootleg casinos operating despite the ban on gambling in Nevada in 1910.

In 1931 gambling once again became legal in the state, with new casinos and showgirl venues opening up along Fremont Street to entertain the thousands of workers who flocked the city during the construction of the Hoover Dam. The first hotel, El Rancho Vegas, opened up in 1941 along Highway 91. Its success inspired others to open up their own hotels along the highway which would one day become the strip. Tourists began to flock to the city over the next few decades to enjoy the casino scene and see incredible artists like Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra perform.

The birth of the mega resort

It was in 1966 the businessman Howard Hughes purchased the Desert Inn hotel; this was followed by over a dozen more hotel purchases, pushing out the mobster-owned hotels that had previously dominated Las Vegas. The concept of the mega hotel came about in 1989 when Steve Wynn opened the Mirage as the first hotel resort in the city. By 1994, Las Vegas was the home of more than 86,000 hotel and motel rooms with 13 of the 20 largest mega resort hotels in the world. It was during this era that the Strip became populated with more hotels and casinos, with developments inspired by the iconic cities and countries of the globe including Egypt, Paris, New York and Rome.

Las Vegas in the 21st century

The Las Vegas of today is well and truly established as a home for entertainment and casinos — which remain the biggest source of income for the city. However, there’s no doubt that Vegas faces more competition than ever before from the virtual world, with more people than ever before opting to play at an online casino, rather than play in the old fashioned way, but Vegas will always have the advantage. For many, it’s a once in a lifetime trip that an online casino can’t replicate, but do the online equivalents help to increase interest in Vegas?

The bright lights of Vegas is attracting billions of dollars in investment as many try and get a slice of the revenue that the sector has to offer. During 2019 over 42.52 million people came to visit Las Vegas from all around the world. Domestically, it was shown to be the second most popular destination for U.S. traveller’s dream spots after New York.

These days, Las Vegas continues to thrive and be a source of entertainment for millions of visitors from around the world looking to experience what the city has to offer. With new generations becoming interested in casino games — and some incredible musical residencies continuing to be announced — Las Vegas surely will continue to be one best places to go for a unforgettable dream destination for many.

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Land-Based Casinos

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What can people find at some of the biggest land-based casinos in Canada? From Niagara Falls to Toronto, there is something for everyone at casinos in Canada, including table games, slots, roulette, blackjack, and other games. There are also many poker and blackjack tournaments held throughout the year and it is easy to find jackpots or slots with free spins at the casinos. Many casinos also have hotels, bars, and numerous restaurants which are perfect for players seeking some comfort. A relaxing casino experience for all ages can be found in many different places in Canada. Choose one from below.

Choosing a casino depends on your tastes and location within Canada. Do you want to experience the grandeur and splendour of nature while placing a bet? Then head to Niagara Falls. Do you want to see a show? Choose a casino with a show that will be perfect for you. If you are looking for pure relaxation, then check out some of the casinos with spas and world-class dining. Entertainment is also a large part of the casino experience in Canada. Musicians, bands, comedians, and other types of entertainment continue to be found at all of the biggest casinos.

Some Big Casinos Near Nature

Casino Niagara is located in one of the most beautiful places in Canada and the world. People from all around the globe come to experience the best of both worlds at Casino Niagara. Players have access to beauty and scenery while spending time at one of the biggest casinos in Canada. The casino has two floors with over 1200 slot machines, poker, and other table games. There are also many different restaurants and even a comedy club. The sports bar and casino was refurbished back in 2017, meaning that it has not lost any of its charm and shine.

ST Eugene Golf Resort: Casino of the Rockies is a golf and nature lovers’ paradise. The location could not be any more splendid. People can find the casino between the Rockies and Purcell Mountains. Furthermore, the casino has an interesting history after it was converted from an Indian Residential School. It was then opened in the early 2000s. St Eugene has table games, electronic roulette, baccarat, and blackjack. There is also a golf course, restaurant, bar, spa, and hotel that is highly rated in Canada. Overall games are limited so most people come for golfing and betting fun.

Caesars Windsor is famously located on the riverbank in Windsor, Ontario. Visitors from both Canada and the States frequent the casino and hotel. Players can see the Detroit and Michigan skyline from the area. There are two floors of slots, table games, and plenty of poker tables. Blackjack, baccarat, and roulette are also available at the casino. It has beautiful restaurants, a gym, bars, slots, and live sports. Check out the Titan 360™, a 10-foot tall slot machine with 5800 pounds of wins at the click of a button. It’s the largest slot machine in the world and great fun.

  • Enjoy the size of Casino de Montreal and Hard Rock Casino
  • Enjoy the big and beautiful Casino Niagara or ST Eugene Golf Resort
  • Enjoy High Culture at Elements Casino Brantford

River Rock Casino Resort – In Transit

Are you passing through Vancouver Airport and have a long transit? Hire a cab and spend some time enjoying slot machines at River Rock Casino Resort. There are slots galore and the different themes make it an enjoyable visit for all. There is even a Dungeons and Dragons slot for gamers. A fourteen-table game room can be found at the casino and international poker tournaments are held regularly. Other features include a VIP area, spa, live music, 24-hour food and drink, as well as other entertainment. Richmond is also worth a quick visit, especially for some delicious seafood.

Casino de Montreal – The Big Gun

Casino de Montreal is 526,488 square feet of casino excitement. The casino has around 20 thousand visitors each day and is one of the biggest casinos on the globe. If you are still unconvinced about the size of the place, then imagine five floors of slots and table games. 3,000 machines and 111 table games make the casino seem even more mammoth. Casino de Montreal games can be played in a smoke-free environment and many players comment on the user-friendly games and helpful staff. Complimentary drinks and top-rated gourmet food is all part of the experience at Casino de Montreal.

Hard Rock Casino – Another Big One

Hard Rock Casino is another large casino located in Vancouver, British Columbia. The casino is over 80,000 square feet, making it a big one in Canada. Hard Rock has gaming tables, slots, baccarat and a poker room. The casino includes 70 casino tables and 1,000 slots. Private rooms and high roller areas are also available. However, the Hard Rock name is known for excellent food and this is what people love about this casino. Many players comment on the quality of the food here. It even has a 1,000 seat theatre, making it great for dining and a show.

Elements Casino Brantford – Enjoy High Culture

Elements Casino Brantford is a historical gem for culture in Ontario. It is a charity casino that was established last century. It includes the Sanderson Centre for the Performing Arts, which is a high society entertainment venue in Ontario. The centre is well known to performing arts enthusiasts in Ontario and Canada. Players come to see a show, enjoy some gourmet food and a game. The casino also has plenty of slots, table games, blackjack, baccarat, sic bo, three card poker, roulette, and other games. There is also a 14-table Texas Hold ‘Em poker room. Enjoy all the excitement.

River Cree Resort and Casino – Sports Lovers

River Cree Resort and Casino is a sport and gaming venue located in Edmonton that should not be overlooked. It has 39 tables of various money limits and over 1,000 slots. There are also a few different places to dine while enjoying a bet and other things to experience. There is a fitness centre, spa and a 200 room resort. However, the most interesting feature of this casino is the two hockey rinks, which are often used by the Edmonton Oilers for practice. It is possible to watch the team practice and go for a meal and some gaming fun.

For the ones who fancy playing online we recomend visiting canadiancasino.org!

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Top 8 Online Games That Kids Can Play Without Much Parental Supervision

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The gaming industry has been quite widespread since its inception. With the advent of globalisation and technology, this industry is reaching new heights. Kids these days are more inclined to the internet than they are to books. 

The internet has more information about everything than anywhere else and is very easily accessible. This further makes some parental control necessary. Most parents are worried about their kids playing violent video games that can further affect their mental health. 

Nevertheless, you cannot stop a kid from finding ways to log in to the internet, nor can you keep them away from playing video games. You can always supervise them on their media consumption. But that also gets tiresome after a point. This is when it gets necessary for you to introduce them to games that are not only kid-friendly but are also of their liking. 

If you are in a similar situation, looking for a way out, this article will surely help. Further mentioned are a few games that you can let your kid play while you concentrate on your work and well-being.  

1. Gummy Drop

Finding games that you can let your kids play without supervision is quite a task. With games like Gummy Drop, you do not have to worry one bit. With beautiful graphics and interesting gameplay, it does not take long for your kid to get hooked to the game. 

With new cities and interesting content being added almost every day, this 3 puzzle game is a good choice for your kids to play. It also connects to your Facebook account, letting you play with your other friends. It is also a nice way for your kids to improve their general knowledge and problem-solving skills. 

2. Skribbl

If you were a fan of Pictionary when you were growing up, you should definitely introduce your kids to this game. While the rules of Pictionary remain the same, this game improves on the visual aspect. With all of their friends in the same server, your kid can easily get hooked to this game. 

Easy and fun to play – once the server is set up, each player will get a word that they have to draw on the screen. The motive of the game is to help the other players guess your word. Each round chooses players at random. While it is advised that you use a tablet and a stylus to play this, you can always sketch with your finger. 

3. Ludo Supreme

A classic in every sense of the word, online ludo needs no introduction. There are some new features that are added in the game version of this app. It lets you connect to your Paytm account and earn real money while playing the game. 

Along with such amazing features, you can also play it for fun with your family or friends. It has other versions as well that come in different languages, especially in India, given the diverse nature of the country. You can download the LUDO for your android phones

4. Houseparty

There is no doubt that Houseparty has been one of the most popular downloads this pandemic. This is a networking app that lets you add as many as seven friends and play different games face-to-face via video calls. 

The novel approach of phone gaming made this a very widely chosen app. While playing games with your friends is always fun, this app lets you see and talk to them as well. Some of the most played games in this app include Heads Up!, Chips and Guac, Trivia and Quick Draw. With such amazing features and games, this is a worthwhile download for your kid. 

5. Monopoly

Monopoly is a very interesting game, which you can get your kids. Along with being fun, it can be played by any age group and is always stimulating your brain. This board game is an all-time classic that is now available on mobile platforms. 

The good thing about it being on the phone is that now your kids can play it with their friends as well, and all from the convenience of your home. 

6. Rocket League

If you have ever wondered what it would be like to play soccer but with cars, this game is exactly that. You get to pick a car at the beginning of the game in an oversized field with an oversized ball. Then start the five-minute matches where you have to score goals against them. 

To make it even more fun, this game allows the player to add up to three friends on the same server. It also has options where you can choose between casual play and ranked online play. Nevertheless, in both gameplays, you can earn new cosmetic looks for the car and get a chance to score more goals. 

7. UNO

Another all-time classic, UNO has been a very celebrated game all these years. The original company of UNO came out with the online version that is available on both iOS and Android devices. Since they are the copyright holders, you already know, the gameplay cannot get any better than this. 

Nevertheless, since it is a multiplayer game, you can play it both against your friends or strangers. It’s fun aesthetics, and new rules make it more interesting. It now has different modes of play and tournaments as well. You can also partner up and play 2v2 to win together. With servers available all around the world, you can connect to anyone you know. 

8. Guess The Word

Very obvious from the name itself, this game is known to be one of the most popular downloads in this list. It not only helps your kids spend some unsupervised time with themselves but also ensures that they learn new things in the process. 

The game contains different levels which get harder as your kid progresses, further making it more interesting and attractive. If you have some free time on your hands, you can also jump in and play with your kids.

Final Thoughts

So, these are the 8 games that kids of all ages can play without any tension. Above all, parents don’t have to panic or keep an eye on them all the time. 

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