Numlock News: November 18, 2019 • Japanese Towns, Christmas Movies, Charlie's Angels
By Walt Hickey
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War on Christmas II
Hallmark has long dominated the TV movie holiday game — the network and its partner Hallmark Movies & Mysteries will unveil a record 40 new holiday films this season — and spends 30 percent of its annual production budget on Christmas movies. Hollywood is no stranger to spending lots on holiday movies, from the $30 million 2019 holiday film Last Christmas to the $40 million 2003 film Love, Actually to the $28 million 1988 Christmas classic Die Hard. But this year, the cold war is heating up yet again, as Hallmark faces new rivals from Disney and Lifetime. Lifetime will broadcast 30 new holiday titles, double their production in 2018 which led to a 30 percent year-over-year ratings bump. Traffic to streaming services increases in November and December: in 2018 Hulu was up 30 percent and Netflix saw a 6.3 percent bump.
If you ever feel like the government and private corporations are trying to track your personal data and there’s nothing you can do about it, at least you’re not alone: basically everyone else feels that way now too. According to the Pew Research Center, 81 percent of Americans think they have little to no control over the data companies collect, 81 percent say they think the potential risks outweigh the benefits of companies collecting their data, and 79 percent are concerned about how the companies use the data. For perspective, “only” two thirds of Americans say they’re worried about the risks of government collecting their data, and “merely” 64 percent have concerns about how the Feds will use it.
Companies that were on the S&P 500 had an average effective tax rate of 18.1 percent in 2018, which was down considerably from 25.9 percent in 2016. Even more eye-popping is that more than 200 of those companies had their effective tax rate drop by at least 10 percentage points. Some sectors really benefited from the 2017 tax code change that cut the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent: the median communication services company saw their effective tax rate drop 15 percentage points and the median utility company saw their tax rate fall 14 percentage points.
In 2018, Americans returned 10 percent of purchases, $369 billion worth of undesired items sent back to retailers. That’s up from 8 percent in 2016, and returns have become a substantial, if at times burdensome logistical issue. There’s a whole industry dealing with the unwanted stuff, from the delivery companies who handle e-commerce returns — in December consumers return over 1 million packages per day on average — to the companies who deal with what actually comes back in those parcels. Optoro, a company that helps companies manage returns, estimated 10 percent of merch actually ends up back on shelves, with the rest sold on to discount stores, recyclers, charity, or in the worst case scenarios landfills and incinerators.
I spoke to Adam for this past week’s Sunday edition. He’s got a new book out called Secondhand: Travels in the New Global Garage Sale which is fascinating. I’ve dropped the paywall for my subscriber-only interview with Adam if you want to check out some of the benefits of becoming a paid subscriber to Numlock.
Ford v Ferrari made $31 million at the domestic box office and $21 million abroad, a solid launch for an awards contender and a beat on expectations, which had been just $20 million. On the other hand, the new Charlie’s Angels tanked, making $8.6 million from 3,452 venues and securing third place behind Midway. That film — the third big-screen adaptation of the 1976-81 ABC television series — had been projected to make $13 million in its opening on a $48 million budget. It’s a real shame that television was discontinued in 1981 and there are no new intellectual properties to adapt.
Young workers in Japan are flocking to metropolises like Tokyo and Osaka, and rural towns are suffering what could very well be an economic death spiral. If current trends continue unabated, by 2040 there will be 869 municipalities at the risk of vanishing, which is about half the number in Japan. Some prefectures have it worse than others, but the municipalities at risk are leaning heavily on tourism, consolidation with neighboring areas and increasing foreign residents through heavy recruitment and campaigns for retention.
Airlines are ordering fewer and fewer twin-aisle jets such as the Boeing 777 and the Airbus A330, which are the most profitable products of the manufacturers. In 2014, there were 463 Airbus and 328 Boeing wide body jet orders. In 2018, there were just 289 for Airbus and 218 for Boeing, and as of the end of October there were just 156 Airbus and 141 Boeing wide body orders in 2019. In October, Boeing said it will cut monthly production of the 787, another wide body model, down to 12 from 14 in 2020, and Airbus said it will keep output of the A350 at 10 per month. Meanwhile, the single-aisle jet airplane business is booming: the pair of manufacturers are working on 10,500 orders for those smaller planes.
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Previous 2019 Sunday special editions: Secondhand · Biometrics · Voting Machines · Open Borders · WrestleMania · Game of Thrones · Concussion Snake Oil · Skyglow · Juul · Chris Ingraham · Invasive Species · The Rat Spill · The Sterling Affairs · Snakebites · Bees · Deep Fakes · Artificial Intelligence · Marijuana · Mussels ·