Numlock News: July 3, 2023 • Botswana, The One Ring, Fireworks
By Walt Hickey
We’re off tomorrow in observation of Independence Day. See you Wednesday!
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It Belongs In A Museum
Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny opened to $60 million domestically and $70 million internationally, a $130 million start that is a bit of a disappointment given the eye-popping $295 million the film cost to make before marketing. The movie is now expected to lose money in its theatrical run, unless it pulls of a big hold next week. Far from the only opening to misfire, DreamWorks Animation’s Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken opened to just $5.2 million in North America and $7.6 million abroad, disastrous numbers for a film with a $70 million budget. It opened to an extremely crowded space for kids movies, competing with Elemental, The Little Mermaid and Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse.
The San Francisco Art Institute is bankrupt, closing to new students in 2020 and failing to close a deal with the University of San Francisco to acquire it. The school owes $450,000 in unpaid rent for its main campus and $750,000 at a former property, and as a result it’s attempting to sell its campus, specifically two landmarked buildings totaling 93,000 square feet. While San Francisco real estate is already an absurdly hot market, there’s an interesting twist that may make the square footage the least compelling element of the property. SFAI is home to a 1931 mural painted by Diego Rivera called The Making of a Fresco, Showing the Building of a City that is valued at $50 million. The lawyer overseeing the case has asserted that the mural can be sold as part of the property or separately, as there’s evidence the mural was designed to be removable.
The Panama Canal will keep up restrictions on how deep a ship attempting to pass through it can sit, continuing to hold that at 44 feet for the Neopanamax ships, as it attempts to control conditions around the canal given a drought. That also includes allowing just 30 to 31 ships per day, which is down from the typical 36 to 37 ships that can transit on a typical good day. At issue is Lake Gatun, the lake that the canal’s locks draw from, and which currently has a depth of 79.7 feet, the lowest since 2019. The hope is to get that number up to 84 feet by November. Right now, there are 59 ships in line for transit.
Congratulations to birds, who are emerging from their pandemic, with May seeing a total of 9.37 billion eggs produced in the U.S. according to the USDA, up 4 percent year over year. The avian influenza that rocked 325 commercial poultry flocks has subsided, as there have been just seven cases reported since March and none in the past 30 days. This means that chickens are in for an exciting time, taking travel experiences they had delayed, catching up with their factory-produced families, and obviously the important step of two years of unhinged, bad-faith Twitter discourse with no foreseeable end in sight over who was the most correct chicken, instead of actually dealing with their grief.
The Magic: The Gathering special themed set introducing The Lord of the Rings to fans of the card game has been a smash hit, with fans eagerly pursuing a one-of-a-kind card featuring Sauron’s One Ring. This accomplished the important task of introducing the Lord of the Rings franchise to Magic: The Gathering players who never heard of it, a group of people that exist just as much as the entwives do. The One Ring has been found, and its owner is currently anonymous and has enlisted the help of an attorney. In a twist not unlike the One Ring yeeting itself into the River Anduin, apparently the ring was found in the vicinity of Ontario, Canada. The current highest offer is for $2 million; they’d owe $490,000 given Canadian taxes that make 50 percent of the sale taxable at 49 percent.
Debswana is a unit of diamond conglomerate De Beers that mines diamonds from Botswana. It’s responsible for about two-thirds of De Beers production, and currently the country of Botswana get 25 percent of the produced diamonds through the state-owned Okavango Diamond Company. The 54-year deal has been up for renewal since 2020, and the diamond juggernaut has agreed to fork over a larger share of the diamonds to Botswana over the new arrangement. Now, Botswana will get 30 percent of Debswana’s output, and tentatively that share will eventually rise to as much as 50 percent. De Beers and its Russian rival Alrosa PJSC dominate the market, and this could open up more of the business to a third party.
Proof Through The Night
It’s not just you: American consumers are buying a ton more fireworks than they did before the pandemic. Last year, the American fireworks industry sold $2.3 billion worth of fireworks to individuals and just $400 million in commercial sales. For perspective, the consumer fireworks industry posted just $645 million in revenue in 2012, which had inched up to about $1 billion in 2019, which almost doubled in 2020. The fireworks industry is now projecting $3.3 billion in sales by 2028, which is definitely a chill thing that will calm everyone down.
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