By Walt Hickey
Warner Bros. has, under its new management, overhauled its film slate and wagered a great deal on the success of its forthcoming slate of DC Comics movies. There is another franchise under its management, though, that has caused no end of consternation for Warner brass: the Harry Potter world, which has seen its current Fantastic Beasts franchise sputter at the box office. The third film made $405 million globally on a $200 million budget, meaning that it’s likely barely broken even, the first time a Potterworld picture failed to post prodigious profits. While the plan had been for five movies, the fact that there is not a screenplay for a fourth film is not exactly a great sign. Unless shooting starts within the next six months, a fourth Beasts movie would get a 2025 release at earliest, which is a huge gap between films in a franchise that is already struggling. Making matters worse for the expensive Potter movies is China and Russia closing their doors to American blockbusters, as well as the controversial place J.K. Rowling tweeted herself into among her own fanbase. As a result, we don’t know what’s next for these fantastic beasts and where to find them.
The sheriff of Van Wert County in Ohio said that vandals broke into and freed anywhere from 25,000 to 40,000 mink from a farm in the rural northwest of the state, and right now 10,000 mink are estimated to be loose in the surrounding environment. Lion Farms believes they have corralled and recaptured many of the released mink, but nevertheless thousands of the small carnivores continue to run loose. Residents have been warned to monitor their poultry flocks, koi ponds and small pets as, again, there are now ten thousand hungry semiaquatic weasels that have jumped to the summit of the local food chain through sheer numerical might alone. The sheriff’s office cautioned to not approach minks if found, instead urging people to call in sightings of these stochastic beasts, and where to find them.
A new study estimates that between 670 million and 1.35 billion people aged 12 to 35 are at risk of hearing loss because of how they listen to music from devices. The meta analysis looked at 33 studies from 2000 to 2021 about hearing loss, finding that while the recommended noise limit is no more than 85 decibels over a 40-hour work week, young people listened to music at a level of 105 decibels, and the average noise level at an entertainment venue was 104 to 112 decibels. It’s a problem for bombastic beats, and who should mind them.
According to internal documents obtained by the press, Twitter’s transition from an ad-supported platform to a subscription-based platform is rife with issues. The math is the clearest problem: Twitter would need to charge $44 per month to make up for the advertising revenue generated by its top users if it moved only to subscriptions, which are selling for $7.99 per month. Twitter Blue’s subscribers are up to 150,000 users, which would bring in only $14.4 million annually, and is just 0.06 percent of the 250 million people who use the service daily. Another issue is that the service isn’t exactly attracting the blue chip firms that remain the target for such a service; of the 600 Twitter Blue accounts with over 250,000 followers, a quarter of them are mostly focused on adult content and about 10 percent talk about crypto. This overcrowding complicates the platform by obscuring fantastic tweets, and where to find them.
Faiz Siddiqui and Jeremy B. Merrill, The Washington Post
The NASA Artemis I mission successfully launched early Wednesday, sending the Orion spacecraft bound for the moon. The mission will run about 26 days, and will send a spacecraft to an orbit that’s 40,000 miles around the moon, and then return to Earth. It’s going to be a week to the moon and then another week in orbit. The mission is uncrewed, but the test flight is designed to be the first of several missions that precede a planned return to the lunar surface for the first time since 1972. It’s a great moment for drastic feats and those assigned them.
Micah Maidenberg, The Wall Street Journal
The Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities announced a finding of a 4,265-foot tunnel that is 43 feet underground underneath the Taposiris Magna Temple. The find of a previously unknown tunnel is exciting in its own right, but some of the items found as part of the archaeological survey — two sculpted heads made of alabaster, one of which is dated to the Ptolemaic period — have led the archaeologists to believe there could be a connection to Cleopatra VII, the last queen of the dynasty whose tomb has long been a mystery. Some of the tunnel has been flooded, which is likely because of the 23 earthquakes that hit the Egyptian coast from 320 to 1303 AD. It’s a major accomplishment in tracking down famous queens, those at last at peace and where to find them.
Sarah Cascone, ArtNet and Joanna Gillan, Ancient Origins
Beige is decidedly in, with the neutral color now dominating the baby gear space thanks to influencers really zeroing in on the hue. Many parents are ditching the gendered baby blue and light pink in favor of beige, and the designers of baby clothing and supplies are rising to meet them in neutral territory. Baby Gap has a beige section, the Easy Peasy line of clothing from Walmart is lousy with beige, and Etsy has said that searches for beige kids clothes is up 67 percent in the past 12 months compared to the prior 12 months. For now, beige is the way to go for infant clothing, furniture, and elastic sheets for colorblind moms. Alright that’s not my best.
Chavie Lieber, The Wall Street Journal
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1) I’m a huge NASA/space program fan-boy, so I’m cheering on Artemis’ success.
2) I’m also a big fan of the Fantastic Beasts series, so I’m really hoping that there is another one.