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URGENT: Video shows beheading of second American journalist

DUBAI (Reuters) - The Islamic State militant group released a video purporting to show the beheading of U.S. hostage Steven Sotloff, the SITE monitoring service reported on Tuesday. A masked figure in the video also issued a threat against a British hostage, a man the group named as David Haines, and warned governments to back off "this evil alliance of America against the Islamic State", the monitoring service said. (Reporting by William Maclean, Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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'Transformers' crushes 'Tammy', 'Evil' to lead weekend box office

By Ronald Grover and Chris Michaud

LOS ANGELES/NEW YORK (Reuters) - "Transformers: Age of Extinction" collected $36.4 million in ticket sales over the three-day July 4 weekend, storming ahead of new films "Tammy," "Deliver Us From Evil" and "Earth to Echo" to lead the U.S. and Canadian box office for a second consecutive weekend.

The special effects-laden blockbuster, starring Mark Wahlberg and a cast of form-changing robots, had the year's biggest opening weekend a week ago with $100 million in sales.

The comedy "Tammy," starring Melissa McCarthy as a fast food worker who has a very bad day, was second with $21.2 million, according to studio estimates. Horror film "Deliver Us from Evil" generated sales of $9.5 million for third place.

"Transformers: Age of Extinction" has enjoyed a huge worldwide reception, generating more than $212 million in China alone, where it had a flashy star-studded premiere. The film has generated more than $575 million globally, according to box office tracking firm Rentrak. "Tammy" fell short of industry experts' $24 million estimate on the heels of weak reviews. The film, which received a "fresh" rating from only 29 of 111 reviewers tabulated by Rotten Tomatoes, was written by McCarthy and her husband Ben Falcone, who also directed.

The movie, made for a relatively inexpensive $20 million, features a high voltage cast including Susan Sarandon as Tammy's grandmother, Dan Aykroyd as her father and Kathy Bates as a cousin.

"Deliver Us From Evil" stars Australian actor Eric Bana as a New York City cop who solves a case which he believes involves the devil. The movie is based on the investigative experiences of New York policeman Ralph Sarchie, who developed a knowledge of demonology which he used in many cases.

The buddy comedy "22 Jump Street", starring Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum as undercover cops in college, took the No. 4 spot with ticket sales of $9.4 million in its fourth weekend in movie theaters. It has totaled nearly $159 million at the box office, according to Rentrak.

Rounding out the top five, animated "How to Train Your Dragon 2" took in $8.75 million, ahead of the PG-rated action adventure "Earth to Echo" which totaled $8.25 million. The movie tells the story of three young friends who are directed by signals on their cell phones to a small friendly alien robot that they need to help find his way home.

Paramount Pictures, a unit of Viacom, distributed "Transformers: Age of Extinction." "Tammy" was released by Time Warner's studio Warner Brothers. Sony distributed "Deliver Us from Evil" and "22 Jump Street." "Earth to Echo" was distributed by Relativity Media. (Reporting By Ronald Grover and Chris Michaud; Editing by Mark Trevelyan) ((ron.grover@thomsonreuters.com)(213-955-6760 or 213-300-0900))

(Reporting by Ronald Grover and Chris Michaud; Editing by Mark Potter)

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