Numlock News: July 8, 2019 • Magic, Spider-Man, Junk
By Walt Hickey
Spider-Man: Far From Home had a massive opening weekend, pulling in a breathtaking $185.1 million in North America over its six day launch and racking up $580.1 million so far. The only movie that has ever made more money over Independence Day weekend was Transformers: Dark of the Moon. For perspective, the first installment, Spider-Man: Homecoming, made $117 million over its domestic launch. The film opened to near universal critical acclaim, except from The Daily Bugle, which instead preferred the direct-to-DVD feature Mysterio: He Made Some Valid Points.
Americans spent over $5 billion on high-end skin care in 2018, like those spiffy masks you find in drugstores that will hopefully guarantee I get away with my vain plan to celebrate my “29th birthday” for the next five consecutive years. That figure is 13 percent higher than the prior year, and the face mask subset is poised for faster-than-normal expansion in the imminent future. Globally, the skin-care market is projected to expand 4 percent through 2025, but face mask sales are expected to grow 10 percent over the same period. Once a niche linked predominantly to Korean skin care regimes, Sephora has over 300 mask varieties on its website so it’s thoroughly mainstream now.
Magic: The Profiting
Geeky card game Magic: The Gathering is owned by Wizards of the Coast, which is owned by Hasbro, and the multinational toy juggernaut appears to have finally found the Black Lotus hiding in its deck of intellectual property. The sundering titan is launching Magic: The Gathering Arena, a PC-based game. The company estimates 38 million people have played at least one round of the card game, while 20 million of those one-time players of the game are believed to have “lapsed” in the words of the company, or “finally gotten clean” in the words of my friend Dave who plays a ridiculous amount of Magic: The Gathering. According to deep analysis by the company, that’s a viable market, a large fraction of the estimated 250 million people into collectible or trading card games. And after they read the bones, projections are pretty good for Arena, with 3 million estimated players expected by the end of the year, and if all goes well 14.5 million by the end of 2021. That’s still a fraction of the 70 million to 80 million players of Hearthstone, a rival digital offering from Blizzard that is its true-name nemesis, but that game makes $600 million per year so a fraction of that is still outstanding business.
Americans spend $40 billion annually storing their crap elsewhere, renting lockers within storage warehouses for exorbitant rates. Currently, the self-storage industry in the U.S. eats up 1.7 billion square feet, about 5.4 feet for every American, spread across 50,000 storage facilities. The average lease is $88 per month, and one in every 11 Americans was using one as of 2018. That inordinate supply is still insufficient, as occupancy rates in storage facilities are at 93 percent. This presents an opportunity for startups, one of which — Neighbor — seeks to serve as an AirBnb for storing stuff, with those with attics and basements leasing them to those with youth soccer participation trophies and old report cards.
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Benin and Nigeria have agreed to join the African Free Trade Agreement, a landmark pact that would economically integrate the continent and lift barriers and tariffs on 90 percent of commodities. The agreement goes into effect in July 2020. With Nigeria’s entrance — it has the largest economy and most populous country in Africa — the free trade pact is no longer hamstrung by the absence of the largest player on the continent. This is fairly enormous news — the total number of nations signed on is now 54 signatories — and will have considerable implications for the continent, the global economy and the supply chain as a whole should it prove successful.
The U.S. Women’s National Team has won the World Cup, a decisive and historic victory for an organization that has already crushed it time and time again in the international arena. Megan Rapinoe won the Golden Boot as top scorer in the tournament and Golden Ball as top player in the tournament. The 26 goals scored in this World Cup by the U.S. is the single largest number of goals scored by any team in the history of the tournament, beating the 25 goal record shared by the 2003 German team and the 1991 U.S. team. If you enjoyed this, you can find tickets to your closest National Women’s Soccer League team here to continue supporting the players.
Shopping for the baby shower of the kid who has everything is poised to get much harder, as an analysis of the trees that produce frankincense shows perilous times ahead for the species. The study looked at 23 populations of 21,786 Boswellia papyrifera trees, which produce the sap that becomes the aromatic resin. A gash is carved in the trees, some stuff leaks out, you come get it later, boom that’s frankincense. The issue is that over 75 percent of those studied populations lack small trees and were so over-harvested that the natural regeneration has been absent for generations. Production will be halved in 20 years, and barring a serious conservation effort, the trees themselves could die off.
Despite being a major oil producing nation, the top-selling vehicle in Norway in the first six months of 2019 was the electric Tesla Model 3, just one breakout for what proved to be a stellar period for electric car adoption in the nation. In 2018, 31.2 percent of new cars sold were electric, a figure that rose to 48.4 percent of new cars in the first half of 2019. Norway exempts battery-driven cars from heavy taxes, and offers discounts on road tolls. Tesla sold 3,760 vehicles in Norway in June, 24.5 percent of all cars sold during the month.
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