Numlock News: January 5, 2023 • Broadway, M3gan, Casinos
By Walt Hickey
Ireland’s Data Protection Commission imposed a pair of fines on Facebook parent company Meta, fines totaling €390 million ($414 million). The company has said it will appeal, and a third decision regarding the WhatsApp messaging app is believed to be coming later in the month. Furthermore, the company has been banned from forcing users in the European Union to agree to personalized ads. Meta is subjected to the Irish regulation because that’s where its regional headquarters are, and it’s the latest in a string of four other fines since 2021 that have cost the company over €900 million.
In the week between Christmas and New Year’s, New York City’s Broadway saw a normal holiday week for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic, with the 33 running Broadway shows bringing in a collective $51.9 million with a capacity of 92 percent, the highest gross of the season. That’s a massive improvement on the same week last year when 31 shows brought in $26.3 million. The Lion King, which has run since 1997, posted its best week ever, making $4.3 million across nine performances. In an attempt to keep the party going, my sources say the Disney company is attempting to find a way to schedule Christmas every other week.
Macao, the massive gaming destination in China, saw casino revenues collapse in 2022, with revenue down 51 percent to 42.1 billion patacas ($5.23 billion), the lowest level in 18 years. That’s down to just 14 percent of the casino revenues brought in in 2019, owing in no small part to the mere 4.8 million tourists who visited Macao from mainland China from January to November. That figure was 27 million over the course of 2019.
Belief in things like psychics and magic is fairly common in Russia, with beliefs in mysticism, astrology, ESP and more fairly common in what’s rumored to be high levels of government. According to polls, about 20 percent of Russians have visited a psychic, and over 60 percent believe in magic in some capacity. Those beliefs, regardless of their validity, are important because the state has had to manage them during its invasion of Ukraine, and make explicit plans to indulge and protect them as the war goes in unexpected directions.
Avatar: The Way of Water is expected to continue to dominate the box office this weekend in its fourth week, with current estimates putting its decline at 50 percent compared to last week with $30 million to $35 million domestically, but it’s not alone. M3gan, a campy horror flick from Blumhouse about an AI robotic doll that has viral buzz online is also hitting cinemas, and analysts are pretty bullish on that counter-programming too, aiming at $17 million to $20 million on a mere $12 million budget.
New estimates from the Census Bureau found that the U.S. population grew by only 0.38 percent from July 2021 to July 2022, which was the second-lowest growth on record behind just the 0.16 percent growth registered during the first year of the pandemic. The main thing increasing it was an increase in net immigration. To find comparably low rates one has to go back to the worst of the Great Depression, when growth was still a comparably robust 0.6 percent. All told, 24 states had more deaths overall than births.
The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts has got its hands on an Endpoint Cylinder and Dictabelt Machine, which is a sophisticated piece of equipment specifically designed to carefully transfer audio from wax cylinders, which can be over a century old and in perilously fragile condition. The library is home to hundreds of wax cylinder recordings created by Lionel Mapleson, a librarian of the Metropolitan Opera, which represent irreplaceable recordings of the opera performed there and the people who performed it. They’ll be busy digitizing those records: There are also another 2,500 wax cylinders in their possession on top of the Mapleson Cylinders, plus another 32,000 lacquer discs, with talks of a new machine to be developed that could play back wire recording, when audio was stored on steel wire.
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