Numlock News: April 18, 2022 • Sea Cucumbers, Ever Forward, Everything Everywhere All At Once
By Walt Hickey
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Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore opened to just $43 million domestically, well shy of the $72 million that the first film in the prequel franchise opened to and considerably less than 2018’s The Crimes of Grindelwald hauled in with $62 million, the kind of whiff that puts the future of the planned five-film arc in jeopardy with studio brass. Meanwhile the domestic box office is actually humming: Sonic the Hedgehog 2 made $30 million in its second week, and theatrically-released romantic comedy The Lost City — they still make those! this one is good! — is in third place with $6.5 million, bringing its domestic total to $78.5 million. For perspective, that’s more than Morbius with $65 millon and more than Michael Bay’s Ambulance which has made just $15 million.
Everything Everywhere All At Once
Meanwhile in the specialty box office, A24’s Everything Everywhere All At Once starring Michelle Yeoh has been building a ton of momentum in its gradually widening release. Three weeks ago it opened in 10 locations and had a per-screen average haul of $50,130, which is the best this year, and for perspective on how hot the ticket is, that beats the debut of The Avengers. Distribution expanded to 1,250 locations two weeks ago and then 2,000 locations this weekend, and it’s racked up $17.6 million on a budget of about $20 million. That’s great news for ambitious, weird, sci-fi indie movies which had been destined for the maw of a streamer for the past three years rather than a theatrical release, and also good news for the newsletter writers who love them.
On March 29, for the first time on record, wind was the second-largest source of electricity generation in the United States, simultaneously beating out nuclear energy production and coal over the 24-hour period. All told, wind turbines produced 2,017 gigawatthours of electricity, accounting for 19 percent of the day’s production. The surge in power came from strong winds in the Great Plains, with the Southwest Power Pool, the grid for 14 states in the middle of the U.S., getting 90 percent of its electricity from renewables on the 29th. In 2020, 14.2 GW of wind capacity was installed, followed by another 13.9 GW in 2021.
No Way Home
A man from Florida set an official Guinness World Record for “most cinema productions attended of the same film” by watching Spider-Man: No Way Home in a theater 292 times, and geez by exhibition 237 I bet you’re really feeling some of the bloat in that 2 hour 28 minute runtime. The man spent the equivalent of 30 days watching the film in a cinema, with a vengeful desire to reclaim a record that was once his but had been lost: In 2019, the same guy watched Avengers: Endgame 191 times to claim the record from a woman who watched Bohemian Rhapsody 108 times in 2019, but subsequently lost it when a rival watched Kaamelott: First Installment in theaters 204 times in 2021.
Italian thieves aligned with smugglers from Greece and Turkey are wreaking havoc on the coast of southern Italy, poaching sea cucumbers from the shores that can fetch healthy prices in China. Illegal fishers were selling ill-begotten sea cucumbers for $1 to $3 per kilogram, and the intermediaries were flipping them to Chinese buyers for $7 a kilogram. At least 2 million of the animals have been harvested from the Italian coast in less than a year. In 2020, China and Hong Kong imported 70 percent of the world’s supply of sea cucumbers, which overall is worth about $270 million. The supply chain to get those sea cucumbers from Africa, Europe, the Mediterranean and other parts of Asia is unsustainable, but high prices — up to $3,000 a kilogram — sustain the trade.
Let’s say you’ve got a whole surplus of renewably-generated electricity that you, a grid operator, would really love to store for a time when it’s not a sunny or windy day. Well, you could store that electricity in a battery, but the thing is that’s all still a couple years out at scale and the long-term potential of it still needs work. Instead, one clever idea would do something called hydroelectric pumped storage: Use the surplus electricity to pump water up a distance into a reservoir, and then when you need the electricity, you run the water down through a hydroelectric plant, in essence making the weight of the water itself the battery. It’s seen as highly useful for New England and California as they work to decarbonize, and right now 63 gigawatts’ worth of new pumped storage projects have been proposed to FERC, which oversees nonfederal hydroelectric dams.
The massive container ship that had run aground in the Chesapeake Bay off the coast of Pasadena, Maryland, the Ever Forward, has been successfully dislodged after workers removed about 500 of its 5,000 containers. The ship was refloated Sunday morning by two barges and five tugboats. It’ll head to an anchorage off the coast of Annapolis, where it’ll be inspected and then returned to Baltimore to be reloaded with the offloaded containers. At that point it will once again embark on its route, and as the ship approaches Pasadena the captain will have to make a very serious decision about whether they would like to do the best joke in the history of commercial shipping.
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