Numlock News: April 11, 2022 • Broadway, Caviar, Sonic The Hedgehog
By Walt Hickey
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Unremarkable Beasts And Where To Avoid Them
Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore logged a muted opening in the 22 overseas markets where it opened last weekend, pulling in $58 million. It’s tough to compare the overall number in an apples-to-apples way, as Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald made $191 million in 79 countries. Still, the per-country hauls are missing the benchmarks set by the previous film, which itself presented diminishing returns compared to the massive Harry Potter film franchise. Grindelwald opened to $36 million in China and the first Beasts opened to $40 million there, but Dumbledore only made $10 million. Even on home turf, the United Kingdom, where Grindelwald opened to $15 million and Beasts opened to $18.5 million, Dumbledore only made $8 million. That’s an issue specifically for the Fantastic Beasts franchise, which has made 75 percent of its revenue in foreign sales.
Sonic the Hedgehog 2
The new Sonic the Hedgehog movie made $71 million at the domestic box office, smashing expectations and giving exhibitors hope over families returning to the cinema after spending much of the pandemic avoiding them. Audience research found 60 percent of ticket buyers were families. The movie is the largest launch of all time for a video game adaptation, which was long a cursed category of box office bombs. The movie has also made another $70 million outside the domestic market. While for years, the best-known primary adaptations of the Sonic franchise have been in literally countless self-insert fanfictions and illustrations that have pervaded the internet since the hour the first pixel was fixed onto the Web, this proves that there’s still at least niche interest in the original form of the character.
Over the winter there were only 19 shows running on the 41 theaters in Broadway, and amid a dearth of competition those shows actually managed to fill the house decently well, averaging 92 percent of seats occupied in the week ending March 20. Now, thanks to several new arrivals, in the week ending April 3 there were 31 shows running, but the new range of options and influx of available seats means that actually average attendance is down on a per-show basis, with just 85 percent of seats filled that week. Total attendance that week was 224,053, which is still down quite a bit from the 315,320 who attended the 38 shows running in the same week of 2019.
The new electrified version of the Ford F-150, the forthcoming Lightning, is going to be a massive overhaul of one of the single most valuable products in the United States. The Ford F-series of trucks is a $40 billion in revenue line of products, behind only the iPhone in terms of success as a product line in the United States. First deliveries of the truck are expected in April or May of this year. The vehicle is also poised to be a bargain compared to Ford’s current lineup; the $39,974 base price after subsidies is 17 percent cheaper than the typical F-150, and the operating costs on a per-mile basis are lower too.
Sanctions on Russia mean that iconic Russian caviar is now off the menu in Europe, but that actually won’t make much of a dent in the overall market for roe. In 2001, China began importing sturgeon eggs in order to kickstart a domestic fish farming market, and today the largest caviar company in China — Kaluga Queen — produces more caviar in a single year than Russia exported from 2014 to 2020. In 2018, China’s fish farms were home to 84 percent of the global population of sturgeon, and China exported 123 tons of caviar in 2020, the same year that Russia exported just 1 ton.
Last week an arbitrator ruled that the company that owns Bang Energy, an energy drink that purports to contain “Super-Creatine,” must pay Monster Energy and the makers of the Orange Bang beverage a breathtaking $175 million in trademark infringement, plus another $9 million to cover attorney fees. A 2010 settlement between the brands meant that Bang Energy could only sell its energy drinks in specialty fitness stores and in the vitamin sections of supermarkets, but over the past several years Bang Energy has been working its way into the same mainstream retail territory they agreed to steer clear of. Today it’s got the third-most sales in the country, but that’s soon going to cost them: The ruling further says Bang Energy has to forfeit 5 percent of future sales to the opponents unless it completely pulls back to the previously-agreed specialty stores and vitamin racks.
A new report released by the FBI said that U.S. losses to business email compromise scams — when a hacker accesses an email account, impersonates someone and tries to get them to send money to the wrong place — amounted to $2.4 billion in 2021, which was up 33 percent from 2020 and 10 times as high as it was seven years ago. These affect pretty much every kind of organization, from small mom-and-pops all the way up to the U.S. State Department, which sent $200,000 in grant money to scammers instead of Tunisian farmers. Even though the scammers are being sought by federal law enforcement, the decentralized and global nature of the grift means the patchwork investigations haven’t been able to yet make much of a dent in their operations.
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