Numlock News: December 9, 2019 • Pageants, Playmobil, Kickstarter
By Walt Hickey
Frozen 2 made a bunch of money this weekend, yadda yadda yadda, but we need to talk about Playmobil immediately. Playmobil, a building toy that makes Mega Bloks look like Lego, had a movie come out in cinemas this past weekend based on its intellectual property. Some cheap B-movie to cash in on the residual goodwill for The Lego Movie? Nope, this puppy cost $75 million to produce. It came out in 2,337 screens in North America. It starred Daniel Radcliffe. And it made $668,000 in the entirety of the United States and Canada, one of the worst opening weekends of all time. Playmobil had its international release back in August, and since then has generated just $12.5 million overseas. The No. 13 opening isn’t going to help.
A single clerical error is causing a massive issue for five different Wasatch County, Utah public services. One 1,570 square foot house was recorded at a valuation of $987 million. The house is not worth that amount of money at all, that’s $543 million too high according to county records. The error is believed to stem from a staffer in the county assessor office dropping a phone on the keyboard and is my literal nightmare. The issue is that lots of places based their budget around the original property tax assessment, as a result the Wasatch County School District is now short $4.4 million, Wasatch County itself is out $1 million, the Fire District is short $253,000, the Parks District is out $138,000, and Central Utah Water is down $217,000. As a person who loses sleep over even fairly inconsequential number errors I feel terrible for that clerk.
The “Coolest Cooler” has turned into a Kickstarter catastrophe, announcing Friday night that it will never deliver many of the coolers it promised. The company raised $13,285,226 through crowdfunding in 2014, and $200 promised a backer a cooler that contained a battery, blender, Bluetooth speaker and other pointless nonsense obviously created without any predetermined supply chain whatsoever. About 20,000 of 60,000 backers never got their cooler, and the email said that they can claim $20 back of their original investment.
There’s a brewing controversy in the pageant scene in the U.S. Virgin Islands, with irate locals claiming that five of the 10 contenders for Miss Universe U.S. Virgin Islands — and most significantly, the eventual winner of the crown — are pageant hoppers, or the Ronin of the beauty scene, venturing from state to territory to country to try to get onto the big stage. The outrage in August began when it was revealed that the winner had competed for Miss Utah USA in January and Miss Virginia last November. Not to mention the stint in Florida in ‘17 or Texas in ‘11. Little Miss Sunshine was a documentary.
Though it rarely gets its due, the romance genre remains the undefeated champion of the book business. In 2016 the genre accounted for 23 percent of the entire fiction market, and the readership — 82 percent female — keeps the publishing business in the black. Despite constituting a plurality of fiction sales, only two U.S. media outlets have a monthly column about the genre (NPR and Entertainment Weekly) and even The New York Times only parachutes in to check in on the bodice rippers on a quarterly basis.
Martin Scorsese’s film The Irishman was seen by 13.2 million U.S. viewers over its first five days of release, according to Nielsen data. Now to be a stickler, that’s not to say that it was actually seen by 13.2 million people, but that parts of The Irishman were seen by 13.2 million viewers. Indeed, just 18 percent of those viewers actually finished the movie in one sitting on day one. All told, 930,000 viewers watched the film in its entirety on Black Friday, the most popular day to catch the flick. The film features excellent supporting performances from Joe Pesci (Goodfellas, My Cousin Vinny) and Al Pacino (Dog Day Afternoon, The Godfather) and is about a mob hitman played by Robert De Niro (Dirty Grandpa, Little Fockers).
In 2019, U.S. farmers grew 45.2 million acres of wheat, a 5 percent decline from 2018. That’s the latest in a steady decline for wheat acres, which in 2008 stood at 65 million acres. That’s poised to remain flat over the next few years, with the 2019-20 projection also being in the ballpark of 45 million acres and the price per bushel to remain steady at about $5. Globally production is hitting records — the U.S. grew 1.92 billion of the 28.1 billion bushels produced globally last year, and ending stocks are at 10.6 billion bushels — so supply is sky-high. American wheat crops are also getting tough competition from stocks in Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan, which average higher protein content (12.5 percent versus 11.3 percent domestically)
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