Numlock News: October 30, 2023 • Bats, Magic, Disappearing Rooms
By Walt Hickey
Today’s technically the last day of the first week of my book release! This is a critical week to show booksellers this one is worth promoting, so if you haven’t yet, do grab a copy from your local bookstore or wherever books are sold today. Thanks to everyone for all the support!
Once again, the single best predictors of success at the American box office in 2023 remain horror movies and video game adaptations, with the Five Nights at Freddy’s movie coming in way above estimates with $78 million domestically and $52.6 million overseas, a $130.6 million start despite launching day and date on Peacock, and good for the best opening for a horror movie worldwide this year. Most interestingly, it came among genuinely cruddy reviews, showing that in this day of elevated horror movies and psychological thrillers cosplaying as spooktaculars, there’s still room in the market for a critically panned animatronic slasher.
In 1980, when surveying the digital technology at the fingertips of amateur radio operators, the FCC decided that 300 baud was effectively the speed limit for amateur communications for frequencies below 28 MHz, and 1,200 baud in the 10-meter (28 to 29.7 MHz) band. A new Report and Order before the FCC will up that speed limit considerably, dropping the baud rate and simply implementing a 2.8-kilohertz bandwidth limitation, which would mean that the U.S. amateur radio service can operate more efficiently, particularly during the natural disasters when these hobbyists become critical, voluntary links in the country’s communications infrastructure. Baud rate limit drops are also being weighed in the VHF and UHF bands.
The big winner of this summer’s Barbie and Oppenheimer duel was, in fact, IMAX, which reported that revenue in the third quarter was up to $103.9 million, which was up 51 percent year over year and crushing analyst expectations. Oppenheimer alone grossed $184 million through its run on IMAX, putting it among the top five IMAX releases of all time. Most importantly for IMAX, though, is that the IMAX 70mm run was a smash hit among cinephiles despite being available at only 30 cinemas and requiring an 11-mile-long, 600-pound film print to implement. That’s turned a lot of new people onto that format, and with big movies like Napoleon and Dune: Part Two coming up, exhibitors with the biggest screens have a lot to be hopeful for.
Many of the home fixtures that were highly in demand during the height of the pandemic are coming back down to earth, with Zillow reporting that listings mentioning a “Zoom room” or “home office” are down 41.4 percent, listings mentioning a “Peloton room” are down 23.6 percent, those mentioning an “office shed” are down 31 percent and those mentioning a “cloffice,” or a closet that can be transformed into a workspace, are down 54 percent. Even the general term “office” was down 0.4 percent, which means that it’s not just the zany rebrands of third bedrooms, sheds and closets that are declining in interest.
Hasbro is essentially a company of generally unproductive legacy toy lines and board games attached to a rocket ship named Magic: The Gathering, the incredibly lucrative card game the company owns through its Wizards of the Coast subsidiary. While sales of Hasbro’s toys and board games were down 18 percent year over year and entertainment sales were down 42 percent year over year, the Wizards of the Coast and Digital Gaming segments were up 40 percent year over year, hauling in $423.6 million. Magic: The Gathering was responsible for $287.4 million of that and Baldur’s Gate III and Monopoly Go! were responsible for $63 million.
Innovative, Groundbreaking Achievement
A team of researchers at Google has made a heretofore impossible technological achievement, a groundbreaking innovation that nobody has ever seemingly managed to pull off, putting the company light-years ahead of its traditional media rivals. That’s right: Google has managed to find a way to lose money by airing NFL games. Yes, the once-inconceivable has become the downright anticipated, with a Morgan Stanley report projecting that YouTube’s bet on Sunday Ticket will result in a net loss of $8.86 billion between now and 2029. The $14 billion, seven-year contract will pay the NFL $1.77 billion this year, gradually rising to $2.24 billion by 2029. In their first season, YouTube is poised to make only $570 million in revenue in year one, and the projection is that by 2029 they’ll be at just 2.5 million Sunday Ticket subscribers, good for only $835 million in revenue on a $2.24 billion cost. Truly, a Silicon Valley miracle.
The United States population of bats is facing a grave threat, a type of fungal infection that kills bats through dehydration and starvation, hitting them at the time of year when they are most vulnerable and emerging from hibernation. The disease is in at least 40 states, and has killed an estimated 5 million bats in North America, with three species in particular seeing declines of 90 percent. It’s sent a shockwave through ecosystems, as bats control the populations of all kinds of bugs and small prey and also serve as pollinators and spreaders of tree seeds throughout large areas. Researchers are attempting to develop a vaccine, potentially one that can be sprayed or pasted and can be brought back into colonies from there.
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