INTERESTING RATES: Australian Property Monitors data indicates growth in home and unit prices is slowing down. “We’ll have more balanced conditions in some suburbs,” PRDNationwide’s Mark Kentwell said.
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Newcastle’s property prices appear to be back on the climb, butagents have been cautious in their predictions forthehousing market’sfortunes in 2018.

The median house price in Newcastle dipped to $580,000 by the end of the September quarter, following18 months of spectacular price growth.The median unit price across the local government area fell to $466,000.

The latest Australian Property Monitors data shows Newcastle’s medianhouse pricerebounded to$620,000 by the end ofOctober, while the median unit price surgedbackto $511,000.

Principal of PRDnationwide Newcastle and Lake Macquarie Mark Kentwell expected continued growth next year, butat a slower pace than the last four years, which have seen prices skyrocket 40 per cent.

“It’s not sustainable for the market to have double-digit growth in the suburbs year after year,” he said.

“Some suburbs may ease on their growth because buyers have a flight to value.They look for a suburb that has similar offerings but is cheaper.

“For example, people could pay $1 million for a cottage in Maryville which needs work or go across the road to Hamilton and buy a similar property for $850,000.”

Mr Kentwellsingled out Hamilton and The Hill as the two most under-valued city suburbs, arguingboth were poised for a growth spurt.

“We’ll have more balanced conditions in some suburbs and they’re likely to be the ones that have had the crazy growth,” he said.“[Vendors] might be in a period where prices go sideways for a little bit, which is healthy.”

Maitland residentLaura Turner is looking to take the plunge into home ownershipin 2018 with her partner, Harry.

The 26-year-oldwas“hopeful”predictions about a cooling market would turnout to be accurate. However the couple have already abandoned hopes of buying in Newcastle.

“We’re looking at Maitland, East Maitland, Tenambit, those sort of suburbs,” Ms Turner said. “We’ll hopefully buy a house up here and then down the track upsize or move closer into Newcastle.”

Ms Turner, who works in pathology, has been saving for about five years. Her partner, a sales representative, has been putting money away for about seven years.

The couple havetried to take a balanced approach to saving.

“We don’t go out for smashed avocado every weekend but occasionally if we want to go out for breakfast we’ll find a cheap place,” Ms Turner said. “Ihave been able to have a couple of small overseas trips since leaving high school. If Ihadn’t I’d have got the house a little sooner but it was worth having those experiences.”

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LINE HONOURS: Wild Oats XI was the first boat into Constitution Dock in one of the most dramatic finishes in Sydney to Hobart history. Picture: AAPWild Oats XIcrossed the finish line first in the 73rd Sydney to Hobart yacht race for a record ninth time, but a potential protest could ruin their celebrations.
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LDV Comanche and Wild Oats XI were neck-and-neck in the battle for line honours on Wednesday evening, with Wild Oats taking the lead in the dramatic final stages, arriving at constitution dock in record race time of1 day, 8 hours, 48 minutes and 50 seconds

It was the Mark Richards-skippered boat’s first success since 2014 and came after their past two races ended early due to damage to the supermaxi.

Comanche crossed the line 16 minutes later in second place.

The Jim Cooney skippered race favourite was first to pass Tasman Island -about 40 nautical miles from the finish line -on Wednesday evening at 6pm.

However, Wild Oats went to the lead around 8pm as Comanche became becalmed in the windless conditions.

Progress slowed to a crawl as the wind eased up on their approach up the Derwent River, with only a few hundred metres separating the rival supermaxis.

Comanche indicated it plans to lodge a formal protest against Wild Oats after the boats came perilously close to colliding about 15 minutes into the race on Boxing Day.

The crew raised a protest flag shortly afterwards and will have six hours after finishing to lodge the paperwork with the international jury in Hobart.

“It will likely be a time penalty if there’s a ruling against them but we’ll have to see if there’s a request for a jury yet,” Cruising Yacht Club of Australia commodore John Markos said.

Wild Oats XI chipped away LDV Comanche’s overnight advantage of 20 nautical miles throughout the day as the two frontrunners flew down Tasmania’s east coast powered by a strong north-easterly.

The pair went head-to-headfor long stretches and traded the lead several times.

The existing yacht race record of one day, 13 hours, 31 minutes and 20 seconds–set by Perpetual LOYAL last year -wasbettered by several hours.

Five boats were on pace to better the record, which was improved by almost five hours by Perpetual LOYAL in 2016.

Cooney said on Wednesday morning he thought the wind in the River Derwent would be enough to carry his boat home.

Black Jack was in third place, with InfoTrack-the 2016 record setter when named Perpetual LOYAL–fourth and narrowly ahead of Hong Kong entry Beau Geste.

Jazz Player, Wots Next and Rockall were forced to retire, while Opt2go Scamp was repairing rotor damage.

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Alastair Cook bottomed out in the first five minutes of his MCG innings on Wednesday. A dinky leading edge off his second ball, beaten for pace on his fourth and, sixth ball, an attempted pull shot that dragged the ball down between his pads and somehow past the stumps. Already on this morning, the slow pitch had produced three drag-ons. One more would have taken the Test match past Game of Thrones.
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Such a nervous start portended more of the same misery for Cook, but instead it was a darkest-hour-before-the-dawn moment. Moments after surviving what would have been the mother of all drag-ons, he struck two pure drives each side of the bowler, Jackson Bird. Neither produced a run, but they transformed the confidence of a batsman who had not stepped forward and driven an Australian bowler with authority since 2011.

And so he was off on his journey of rediscovery. A flick off the hip was so perfectly timed it sped past the deep fielder, before a vintage pull shot revived the Cook of old. Even this early in his innings, it was as if he knew something.

His recent bogey man, Nathan Lyon, was brought into the attack as early as the seventh over, but Cook was fearless. Things were shifting in his favour. The pace of the wicket was more akin to a dry English summer strip, Mitchell Starc was cooling his heel, and Pat Cummins had the runs. When Cummins overpitched, Cook drove majestically, a significant moment in itself because for seven years bowlers had been able to serve up half-volleys with impunity. A batsman steered by the desire to avoid risk, Cook had for a long time treated the drive as a potential nick. Now, with edges unlikely to carry and the ball not deviating, he saw a full ball as other batsmen see it: a Christmas gift.

Cook’s birthday is on Christmas, and he began seizing upon the Australian bowlers’ errors as if he would get the chance to celebrate only once a year. He waited on the shorter ball and cut it off his stumps. Soon he was so bold as to play that shot off good-length balls. He watched Mark Stoneman and James Vince lose their wickets, so lost in his own cocoon of concentration, perhaps, that he did not hear the inside edge that would have spared the latter. This was very much the old Cook, standing firm as his partners ticked over like pages on his Rolodex. Somewhere the tide of inevitability turned. Cook has looked like a walking wicket for quite a while against Australia.

Through the afternoon, it seemed more and more inevitable that he was not going anywhere. His encampment on the MCG turned from a visit into a tent embassy into something more and more solid. In the first over after tea, he put Cummins away to the square boundaries on both sides of the wicket. A clip off the pads brought up the half-century, humbly acknowledged. Cook was Cook again, just as, hours earlier, Stuart Broad had returned to Stuart Broad.

For an hour-and-a-half after tea, Steve Smith kept Lyon out of the attack, which also favoured Cook. Only when Mitchell Marsh took the ball did Cook’s focus waver, or perhaps heat and fatigue were setting in. He survived an lbw appeal first ball, then back-cut a four. Fifth ball, Tim Paine moved up to the stumps and donned the helmet. Steve Smith sat Paine’s cap on top of his own. Marsh pitched up, Cook drove and nicked. Smith fumbled the catch low to his right and the chance, cleverly plotted, was missed.

It can’t be said that Cook didn’t deserve his luck. As he moved towards his first century against Australia in seven years and 24 Test matches, Cook brought all of the patience and method that he kept asserting he still had in him. Here was the familiar routine between deliveries: scratching out his guard with the outside of his right foot, walking away, adjusting his helmet by gripping the left side of his grill, a tweak of the left pad flap, into the tall man’s ungainly stance, the double-pumped backlift.

For someone who has played so much cricket, Cook always plays with a slight jump, as if surprised by the ball. But all of this is, to English eyes, a kind of comfort food, their highest accumulator back doing this thing, as if he’s been batting forever. When Joe Root joined him, the new captain drew strength from the old, and English bats took advantage of the momentum swing in this match that had been initiated by their bowlers.

In the end, Smith brought himself on to bowl the day’s final over. Cook needed seven runs for his hundred. From Smith it was two gifts in one day, like a birthday on Christmas. As Cook always plays the ball, the century arrived late. Too late to save the Ashes but never too late to save a career.

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FLYING: Gema Simon stretches out at training on Wednesday. The former skipper has recovered from a knee injury. Picture: Jonathan CarrollCRAIG Deans is not sure exactly where Gema Simon will play for the Newcastle Jets but the coach has no doubts that the Matilda will play akey role in the push towards the W-League finals.
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Simon,a foundation W-League Jet and former skipper, will make her first appearance since returning from a stint at Avaldnes in Norway, where she injured her knee at training in November.

The 27-year-old will start on the bench against Melbourne Victory in Melbourne on Friday but Deans is yet to decide if she will play at left back, the position she occupies for the Matildas, or further forward.

“Depending on the game, she has that bit of flexibility,” Deans said. “She can play left back, she can push forward and she played in midfield a couple of time last season as well.Hannah Brewer has been playing left back for the thepast three weeks. It may not be her strongest position but she has been doing a good job.At the end of the day, it is good to have another player who expects to play every week. Having said that we have been doing reasonablywell. Gem knows she has to work hard and show at training that she is going to add more to the team than someone already in there.”

Former skipper gives coach many options TweetFacebookFormer skipper Gema Simon excited at return for @[email protected]@newcastleheraldpic.twitter南京夜网/VZ5L5Ak2YO

— James Gardiner (@JamesGardiner42) December 27, 2017

Apart from versatility, Deans said Simon would add experience and quality to his third-placed outfit.

“She has lots of experience to start with,” he said. “She was an inaugural squad member of the Jets. Then she went down to Melbourne Victory and they won the W-League the year she spent there. She played in Norway this year, Korea the year before that and has gotten herself back in the Matildas squad over the last 18 months. She is athletic, quick and technically good. All left footers generally have quality about them. It is like getting a new player really.”

Victory sit in seventh place six points behind the Jets

“Itis very much like the A-League, there is not really an easy game,” Deans said. “We have done reasonably well against them in the past and can be confident that we can go down there and win. And we need to win because we want to make sure we don’t drop out of the four.If we win this it takes us to 16 points which is not bad after eight games.”

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Finally, the Melbourne Stars’ women are on the board.
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After four losses to open the season, including Tuesday’s defeat to the Perth Scorchers in which they conceded the highest successful run chase in Women’s Big Bash League history, the Stars turned the tables on the Scorchers on Wednesday to prevail by 12 runs at the WACA Ground.

It was the first win for the Stars’ men’s or women’s teams this season.

The Stars won the toss and elected to bat, posting a total of 6-149 from their 20 overs. Their South African opener Lizelle Lee, who top-scored with 76 on Tuesday, could only muster nine before being removed by Katherine Brunt, who also claimed the wicket of Anna Lanning (19) en route to figures of 2-13 from three overs. The Stars clawed their way to the competitive total through a series of handy contributions, with Georgia Elwiss (25), Alana King (23), Mignon du Preez (23), Katie Mack (20) and Erin Osborne (17 not out) all chipping in.

The Stars have leaked way too many runs this season, but on Wednesday they kept things much tighter. Scorchers openers Elyse Villani and Nicole Bolton had taken the game away from the Stars on Tuesday, but the visitors frustrated Bolton on Wednesday before Emma Kearney struck, with Bolton gone for nine from 28 balls. Still Villani threatened to win the game off her bat, before spinner Alana King, who had been very expensive the day before, had Villani caught in the deep by Gemma Triscari for 72 from 44, leaving Perth 3-107 from 16 overs.

The Stars were able to do enough from there, with the Scorchers finishing at 4-137. The Stars, who have moved off the bottom of the ladder, next play the Adelaide Strikers at Casey Fields on January 5.

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Family affair: Angelo Palozzi, Lily Payne, Tulia Palozzi, Angela Palozzi and Mario Palozzi with some of their best sellers. Picture: Jonathan CarrollTHE Palozzi family had prepared to bid an emotional arrivederci to their landmark Italian restaurant, but after a rollercoastermonth, they are poisedto stay.
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Manager Angelo Palozzi, who operates Arrivederci with his siblings Mario, Mary and Lina – their eldestbrother Patrick passed away in 2006 –said the family received an avalanche of calls after they listed their Glebe Road building at The Junction for sale with vacant possession.

History: Patrick Palozzi, Lina Ravlen nee Palozzi, Tulia Palozzi, Angelo Palozzi, Mary McElhinney nee Palozzi, Mario Palozzi and Riccardo Palozzi grew the business.

“We had people say ‘how could you do this to us?’ and that they would find out where we lived so they could still come over for dinner,” Angelo Palozzi said.

“We’ve seen people propose here, hosted18thand 21stbirthday parties, even a wedding reception.

“We’ve had regulars come in with babies who are now coming in with their own babies, so we’ve become part of people’s lives.”

Mr Palozzi said the family had always planned if they didn’t receive their goal price at or after the December 16 auction to negotiateto rentthe premises and continue to operate the business.

He said they expected to exchange contracts in the new year with thebuyer –a party of three investors –and to sign a three-year leasefrom April, with a further three-year option.

“We were not in a real hurry to get out and all the siblings have agreed to stay on.

“It’s in our blood –15 of our 18 children have also worked here,” Mr Palozzi said.

“It hasbeen a big year –ourfather who held it all together passed away at the end of July and Mary’s husband Chad died too.

“We thought it may be time to go and look for a change after 33 years, have a holiday, but then realised it’s not meant to be now.We are happy to be here for a few more years.”

The Palozzis’late parents Riccardo and Tulia purchased the business from Riccardo’s nephew in 1984 and the building around1989.

Tulia Palozzi served her mother’s recipes,honed in her hometown of Villavallelonga, in central Italy.

“Mario was a crane driver and I was an apprentice boilermaker when they bought the restaurant and Mum taught us how to cook too,” he said.

“Her recipes continue on, even though she’s been gone for more than 20 years.

“We still make all our own lasagna, gnocchi, cannelloni and fillings. It’s all from the heart.”

Mr Palozzi attributed Arrivederci’s popularity to it’s “casual” feel.

“It’s not fine dining – peoplefeel welcome and like it’s a second home.”

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Michael Pezzullo, Secretary of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, during a Senate estimates hearing at Parliament House in Canberra on Monday 23 October 2017. fedpol Photo: Alex Ellinghausen Australian Border Force head Roman Quaedvlieg will on Friday clock up seven months of paid leave – funded by taxpayers – while under investigation for possible abuse of power.
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Frustrations are mounting within the newly formed Home Affairs Department, as well as the corruption watchdog, about the length of time the investigation is taking.

Mr Quaedvlieg is one of the country’s most senior public servants and is paid $618,000 a year. If receiving his full salary, he has pocketed more than $360,000 while on leave to date.

A spokesman for Home Affairs, formerly the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, confirmed Mr Quaedvlieg remained on paid leave this week.

He has been out of the office since May 29, when he stepped aside pending an investigation by the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity into possible abuse of power.

The commission is investigating whether Mr Quaedvlieg acted improperly by allegedly helping his girlfriend – a younger woman in the ABF – secure a job at Sydney Airport. Mr Quaedvlieg denies any wrongdoing.

At a Senate estimates hearing in October, Home Affairs secretary Michael Pezzullo confirmed Mr Quaedvlieg was on leave, was still being paid and was subject to the ongoing integrity commission investigation. The department confirmed on Wednesday that none of those facts had changed.

Mr Pezzullo revealed he had personally approved paid “event leave” for Mr Quaedvlieg, which was similar to “miscellaneous leave”. According to the relevant enterprise agreements, paid “event leave” can be granted “where it is considered to be in the interest” of the department. Miscellaneous leave, by contrast, is usually unpaid except in certain emergencies.

Fairfax Media understands the integrity commission has furnished the Home Affairs Department with preliminary findings about Mr Quaedvlieg. But there is growing frustration at senior levels of the department about a delay of the commission’s final report. It is also understood that complexities related to the Border Force boss’s statutory position – appointed by the cabinet – have contributed to the delay.

An integrity commission spokesman said the commission was “not able to comment on matters that may be under investigation”.

Though well-resourced, the commission has had an increased workload since the Immigration Department was included in its remit two years ago. Nearly half of all its corruption investigations relate to the Immigration Department (now Home Affairs), according to its 2016-17 annual report.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton last week deflected questions about Mr Quaedvlieg’s continued absence, saying he would not pre-empt the investigation.

Adding to Mr Quaedvlieg’s woes is an internal probe by the Home Affairs Department into how his official Twitter account “liked” a pornographic video while he was on leave. Similar incidents have befallen cabinet ministers Christopher Pyne and Greg Hunt in recent months, both of which were dismissed as hacks.

In his only known public statement since the investigation became public – made to The Australian in July – Mr Quaedvlieg said he had not acted inappropriately and was “looking forward to an early exoneration and resuming my public service career”.

He also said public speculation about his actions “serves only to gratify the prurient interests of scandalmongers”, and noted Australia’s security was “threatened by splintering, but still pernicious, global ideologies that motivate individuals and groups to commit senseless acts of terrorism on innocent populations”.

Mr Quaedvlieg did not respond to Fairfax Media’s requests for comment on Wednesday.

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Grief-stricken relatives are holding bedside vigils for two sisters who were pulled from the wreck of their family car after it was involved in a horrific head-on collision on Boxing Day.
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Annabelle Falkholt, 21, and her actress sister Jessica Falkholt, 28, were seriously injured in the crash, which claimed the lives of their parents and a 51-year-old man driving the other car.

The women remained in critical conditions in separate Sydney hospitals on Wednesday.

Annabelle and Jessica Falkholt are fighting for their lives after their parents were killed in a head-on crash. Photo: TNV

A fire “incinerated” both cars involved in the crash after the sisters were pulled to safety. Their parents, whose ages were not released, could not be saved.

Chief Inspector Phil Brooks, of the NSW Police traffic and highway patrol command, said crash investigators went to a home in Ryde before they located relatives of the family at several other Sydney addresses.

Jessica Falkholt, 28, is in a critical condition in hospital. Photo: Supplied

“And sadly, those family members are travelling to Liverpool and St George hospitals to engage with their loved ones who are very much in a critical condition at the moment,” Chief Inspector Brooks said.

Jessica Falkholt has starred in Home and Away, with a recurring part in 2016, and will appear in the upcoming Australian film Harmony.

She is a graduate of UNSW and the National Institute of Dramatic Art, and has worked in production for Channel Seven, according to an online profile.

The fiery Princes Highway crash on Tuesday has headlined a deadly festive season on NSW roads, with 21 people killed since the start of Operation Safe Arrival on December 16.

It includes another three on Boxing Day after a 25-year-old woman was killed when her car hit a tree near Taree, a 43-year-old man who died when his Ford Falcon ran into a parked semi-trailer at Emu Plains and a 23-year-old Dubbo woman who suffered horrific head injuries when she fell from a moving four-wheel drive at Peak Hill.

The deaths, almost triple the number for the same period last Christmas, have senior police flabbergasted.

“This Christmas-New Year period is meant to be a time of happiness, to spend time with family. And sadly, for many, this has resulted in tragedy,” Chief Inspector Brooks said.

“So far, during the operation, 21 lives have been lost. Those families directly impacted by road trauma on NSW roads.”

He later added: “Everyone who has been on our roads leaves home in the hope they can get back there [or] to their destination.

“Sadly, for 21 people so far during Operation Safe Arrival that hasn’t occurred courtesy of what is a very clear lack of personal responsibility on our roads.

“Out of the 21 lives lost so far, 11 of those deaths have been from people leaving the road in a vehicle crashing either into a tree or a telegraph pole sadly losing their lives on the side of the road.

“Three other deaths are courtesy of people drifting across to the other side of the road resulting in head-on crashes [and] sadly more lives lost on our roads in sad and tragic events.”

The spike in deaths is not the only worry for police, with highway patrol police handing over more than 13,500 speeding fines and charging 433 motorists with drink-driving.

“Luckily for those drivers, they get to go home to their families,” Chief Inspector Brooks said.

“Sadly, for the 21 lives lost so far during the operation those families will no doubt be feeling the pain and suffering of losing a loved one this close to Christmas.”

with Georgina Mitchell

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The Melbourne Renegades have made the finals of the Big Bash League just once, and were eliminated in the semis. The Perth Scorchers are the dominant force of the competition, with three titles to their name, including the most recent one. What’s more, the Scorchers have never lost to the Renegades in six and bit years of the BBL.
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Yet according to Perth coach Justin Langer, it’s the Renegades, not his own side, who are the team to beat this summer.

The two teams, both of which started the season with consecutive victories, are on an early season collision course, set to square off at Etihad Stadium on Friday night.

The Renegades will enter the match off a six-day break after beating Brisbane Heat at Docklands last Saturday night, while the Scorchers – despite being ravaged by international call-ups and injuries to gun quicks Jason Behrendorff and Nathan Coulter-Nile – beat the Melbourne Stars by 13 runs at the WACA Ground on Tuesday night.

Whether the wily Langer was playing mind games or not is hard to tell, but in any case he said the vast experience of the Renegades, who feature former Scorchers spinner Brad Hogg, meant they deserved to be considered the standout side.

“I think they’re the favourites for the tournament,” Langer said after beating the Stars.

“They’re so well-balanced with their team. They’re such a well-balanced team. [They’ve got] experience, Cameron White is a brilliant leader, [Aaron] Finch is dangerous. [Brad] Hodge. I’d pay money to watch Hodge bat.

“They’ve got a very good team. I think they’re the team to beat.”

Langer said Coulter-Nile and fellow quick Joel Paris were both getting close to being available to play again after injuries.

Opener Michael Klinger made just one against the Stars after returning to the side for his first game since revealing the cancer battle of wife Cindy.

Langer reiterated that the club was supporting the veteran. “It’s great to see him playing cricket,” Langer said. “We’ll just help him through as much as we can.”

Seamer Andrew Tye, who continued his excellent start to the tournament with 5-23, said “it was awesome to have [Klinger] back in the change rooms”.

“What he’s going through is just heartbreaking. If he ever needs anything, and if he ever just wants a hug, we’ll be there for him.”

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You can lead Americans to the cinema, but you can’t make them think.
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A silent sequence in the latest Star Wars film has left so many people baffled that a popular US cinema chain has begun issuing warnings to cinemagoers.

The public notices were attached to cinema doors after some people mistakenly thought there was a technical glitch during a nail-biting space battle scene in The Last Jedi’.

“The Last Jedi contains a sequence at approximately one hour and 52 minutes into the movie in which ALL sound stops for about 10 full seconds,” one of the warnings at AMC Theatres reads. “While the images continue to play on the screen, you will hear nothing. This is intentionally done by the director for a creative effect.”

AMC Theatres operates the largest share of cinemas in the US, followed by Regal Entertainment Group and Cinemark.

The Last Jedi’s visual effects supervisor Ben Morris defended the silent sequence, arguing it was designed to challenge people’s expectations.

“We always hoped that [scene] would resonate, both as a story beat and as a striking visual,” he said in an interview with trade publication Collider.

“When I heard all of the cries and gasps in the silence, it was just fantastic. I think it shows strength, if you invert your normal concept of what space shots in Star Wars look like. We wanted to come up with something clean and new, that had that delicacy and serenity to it.”

Despite the confusion, Star Wars: The Last Jedi has taken the box office by storm – snapping up more than $960 million in worldwide ticket sales as of Sunday.

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