Numlock News: November 7, 2022 • MoviePass, Photo Booths, Traffic Jams
By Walt Hickey
For the third week, Black Adam won the box office. It’s now brought in $319 million globally, $137.3 million of which was in North America. That’s an improvement on the $168 million globally that The Suicide Squad made in 2021, and will likely end up finishing ahead of the $366 million that 2019’s Shazam! made. The issue may be that it cost $195 million to make the movie and something like another $100 million to market it, meaning that the breakeven point is still likely a fair ways ahead. The only competition it faced this week was One Piece Film: Red which made $9.5 million in North America, a franchise you’ll either recognize as one of the defining franchises of Japan’s anime industry or, if you’re not plugged into the scene, the franchise responsible for like 20 percent of the trick-or-treater costumes last week.
The region on the border between the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia has been responsible for 80 percent of the growth of global copper output over the past three years. Getting that valuable metal out of the center of the continent and 1,900 miles away to ports like Durban in South Africa, Beira in Mozambique or Walvis Bay in Namibia is a challenge in and of itself, and much of the global supply of copper is snarled in miles-long queues. With Congo poised to increase production by 79 percent from 2020 to 2025, it’s only going to get more packed. In addition to the days-long lines, truckers also have to deal with hijackers, a crime that in South Africa is up by a third, a valuable robbery since a given truck’s cargo could be worth $340,000 at the prices logged this year.
The U.S. Department of Justice has charged two of the top executives of MoviePass with one count of securities fraud and three counts of wire fraud each. It comes a month after the SEC sued them for fraud, and three years after MoviePass imploded. The company collapsed after its pricing structure — $9.95 per month to see unlimited movies, tickets that the company would buy individually — met the financial reality that removing all friction from the act of spending someone else’s money tends to mean that someone’s going to run out of money. The specific allegation is related to “a scheme to defraud investors” related to claims that the $9.95 price point, and this part is great, “was tested, sustainable, and would be profitable or break even on subscription fees alone” and not just a gimmick.
For a brief period of time during the height of the pandemic and the ensuing ripples through the U.S. vehicle supply chain, used cars became incredibly valuable. Benefitting from this was Carvana, which once saw its stock trading for $376.83 and minting billionaires among its father-son founders. Well, prices have come back down to earth, interest rates are up, and used cars are no longer worth their weight in gold on open markets, and shares are down 97 percent since the beginning of 2022. Following their most recent quarterly report the stock fell 42 percent and was trading at $8.37 per share. Some analysts think Carvana could fall to $1 per share.
Photo booths are back after being nearly wiped out by iPhones, which facilitated the simple taking of images of oneself without the need for an 800-pound film booth. Auto-Photo Canada, a company that produces photo booths, reported that the company saw a 40 percent drop in sales in the five years following the release of the first iPhone in 2007. That said, people are once again being turned on to the appeal of an elegant camera for a more civilized age, and everywhere from boardwalks to dive bars are reporting a surge in use, with sellers reporting a significant spike in inquiries and orders. A refurbished machine can go for about $40,000.
This week Americans will cast their ballots in the midterm elections that will determine control of Congress and state government for at least the next two years. According to a new analysis from OpenSecrets, the total cost of the 2022 state and federal midterms will exceed $16.7 billion, with federal candidates and committees spending $8.9 billion and the counterparts at the state level spending $7.8 billion. That’s why I’m pleased to announce my latest side hustle, becoming a traveling salesman jumping from Midwestern town to town, knocking on the doors of local television stations that have pocketed hundreds of millions of dollars to air campaign ads and selling them expensive Numlock-branded Doppler radars for exorbitant sums of cash.
Movie theaters have been hurting, with the domestic box office for this year running approximately 35 percent below the pre-pandemic level. One simple fact causing that is that there are numerically speaking fewer movies being made and distributed: This year the number of films released to cinemas was roughly 60 percent the level of pre-pandemic production. Last week, the CEO of theater chain Cinemark announced that the theater chain expects next year to be considerably better, with the number of releases jumping back to 75 percent to 80 percent of pre-pandemic levels. That analysis was enough to turn investors optimistic for the space, leading to jumps for IMAX and Cinemark stock.
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