Numlock News: August 21, 2023 • Sushi, Toys, Lunar Lander
By Walt Hickey
It was a rough week for the fate of the studio commentary at the American box office, with Strays starring Will Ferrell and Jamie Foxx opening to a muted $8.3 million at the domestic box office, and a ruff $1.9 million across 21 territories overseas. This is a bad opening, particularly given that the movie cost $46 million to make. Arguably Barbie, which currently has racked up $567 million domestically, is a studio comedy, but it’s been a rough year with No Hard Feelings starring Jennifer Lawrence opened to $15 million and Cocaine Bear pulling in around $23 million.
Making An Impact
Russia’s Luna-25 spacecraft has crashed into the moon following a burn off of propulsion system as it attempted to get into an orbit ahead of landing. The 1.2-ton lander got to the moon three days ago, and on Saturday a problem occurred the extent of which was only understood later, as given Russia’s lack of a global deep space communications network the country’s space agency, Roscosmos, can only communicate with Luna-25 when the moon is visible over Russia. It’s the first Russian moon mission in 47 years, and since then the space program has been beset by corruption. To paraphrase Michael Caine, I have never seen the Luna-25, but by all accounts it was terrible; however I have seen the dacha and yacht that it built, and it is terrific.
American supermarkets have become a massive distributor of sushi, with grocery stores selling 43.7 million servings of sushi, a massive number compared to the 238.6 million servings of sushi distributed by restaurants in the United States. Sales volumes of sushi at retailers are up 50 percent year over year, and on a dollar sales basis up 72 percent. One supermarket in particular — Kroger — has really pursued sushi as a market, slinging what it said was 40 million pieces of sushi in a typical year across Kroger, Ralphs, Smith’s and Harris Teeter, with its sushi business alone estimated to generate $400 million to $600 million in sales.
Nuclear power has grown substantially in popularity over the past several years, rising from 43 percent of U.S. adults backing more nuclear power plants in 2016 up to 57 percent of adults backing the same in 2023, including 50 percent of Democrats and 67 percent of Republicans. U.S. reactors peaked at 111 in 1990, which have since declined to 93 active nuclear reactors today, which all told generate 18.2 percent of electricity. Most of those — 47 reactors — are in the South, with the Midwest (22) and Northeast (18) accounting for most of the rest of the balance.
Some of the most successful movies of the summer have been, in fact, remarkably successful toy commercials. Barbie is the most obvious one, with sellers of vintage Barbie dolls reporting huge sales of previously unsellable toys, particularly Allan, who is Ken’s best friend who fits in all of Ken’s clothes. Meanwhile, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have racked up 400 licensing deals for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem film as well as 1,100 for the franchise as a whole. The Transformers: Rise of the Beasts movie has reportedly juiced sales by 85 percent since the film came out in June.
Novo Nordisk makes two drugs, Ozempic and Wegovy, which are colossal hits in the United States owing to their efficacy in weight loss. The impact has been substantial: The company’s now worth $419 billion, a third more than it was at the beginning of the year, and that’s a huge valuation for a country the size of Denmark, where Novo Nordisk is based. Sales of weight loss drugs from Novo Nordisk are projected to hit $6.1 billion this year and $15 billion in 2027, which in a country where the gross domestic product is $406 billion, you’re talking one chemical compound resulting in measurable differences in a nation’s economy. It’s hit the point where sales have been so strong that Denmark’s central bank has had to take steps to stabilize the value of the kroner compared to the euro given how many dollars have flowed in.
A new analysis of accounts on X, which was previously known as Twitter, found that of the 153,209,283 accounts that followed now-owner Elon Musk as of October of last year, 42 percent had zero followers, and 72 percent had less than 10 followers on the account. Out of the 153 million accounts that followed the man, 62.5 million of them have tweeted exactly zero times, and over 100 million of them have fewer than 10 tweets. About 25 percent of his followers use the default profile image, and 40 percent of his followers have over four numbers in their handle. Indeed, the median number of followers that an Elon Musk follower had at the time was one. There were 13.5 million users who followed one account: Elon.
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