Numlock News: April 28, 2020 • K-Pop, Pirates, Staten Island

By Walt Hickey


Last year, South Korean boy band BTS sold 1.3 million concert tickets, and this year they will probably sell less than that. Truly, a global shutdown of performances is rough for any artist, but K-pop as a genre was just making mainstream headway and as an industry was keen to use 2020 to cash in chips that the business had accumulated over decades. BTS grossed $170.3 million last year from live shows alone, the fifth highest-grossing artist coming in behind Elton John, with their managers — Big Hit Entertainment — hauling in $475 million last year across their business. Big Hit won’t say how much revenue’s been dinged, but SM Entertainment, a rival K-pop company, made 657.8 billion won last year but saw revenues dip 35 percent this year.

Yoojung Lee, Bloomberg

Straight To VOD

While many studio tentpoles are getting punted to next year — the Mouse spent a gazillion dollars on Mulan, and they expect you and 120 million of your friends to buy a dang theater ticket before that sucker hits Disney+ — there are lots of other movies on the calendar that are not single-handedly keeping the lights on, and you can expect some of those to hit a video on-demand service near you sooner rather than later. Universal had planned to release Judd Apatow’s The King of Staten Island in June, but now you’ll be able to rent it for 48 hours for $19.99 instead. The Pete Davidson comedy reportedly cost less than $20 million to make, which is the kind of budget where studios get a little more game to roll the dice. They’re not alone: Sony sold Seth Rogen’s comedy An American Pickle to HBO Max, rather than preserving it in a jar until this blows over, because Rogen — who also had a Kim Jong-un movie kicked to VOD after the North Koreans hacked Sony in retribution for its creation — is cursed to have OK comedies foiled by geopolitical turmoil.

Pamela McClintock and Aaron Couch, The Hollywood Reporter


The good news is, due to diminished flight traffic, the U.S. Transportation Security Administration is finding far fewer guns in luggage than typical, discovering only 58 guns at checkpoints between March 22 and April 22 compared to 346 guns over the same period of 2019. The issue? Well, there are 95 percent fewer travelers in the skies these days, and doing some arithmetic here, if the normal rate of “finding a gun” is one gun for every 216,200 people and the rate now when they have time to thoroughly check is one gun for every 80,000 people, well, that’s 2.7 times the rate. And it raises some pretty alarming questions about how often the TSA is messing up and not finding guns that people bring on airplanes.

David Koenig, The Associated Press


Saudi Arabia’s sovereign-wealth fund now owns 5.7 percent of Live Nation Entertainment, which owns beloved brands like Ticketmaster, having accumulated about 12.3 million shares in the company for a $500 million stake. The petroleum-fueled kingdom, best known for its vast wealth and awful treatment of many of the human beings it has control over, is now the third-largest shareholder of the parent company of Ticketmaster, a company best known for its vast wealth and awful treatment of many of the human beings it has control over.

Jem Aswad and Cynthia Littleton, Variety

The Hits

Changing lifestyles have altered the way that consumers listen to music, with Spotify observing a 28 percent decline in cumulative streams of the top 200 U.S. songs over the period from early March to Mid-April. Those songs tend to be the most recent, new songs to hit the platform. On the other hand, songs that are more than 18 months old have been on the rise, hitting a high for the year in the week ending April 9, and at that point accounting for 63 percent of total audio streaming, which was up from a 60 percent share in mid-March.

Anne Steele, The Wall Street Journal


The geological record is illuminating, allowing geologists to understand things about the progression of time and the conditions therein over millions of years. Except when it isn’t, like the Great Unconformity, which is the lack of a geological record for events that transpired between a billion years ago and 550 million years ago. A previous theory held that when Earth was covered in glaciers from 715 million to 640 million, they wiped the slate clean, but a new paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences offers another theory, that the Great Unconformity was instead the result of not a single global phenomenon, but rather multiple events around the world. That would challenge another hypothesis that the erosion thought to cause the Great Unconformity was the reason for the Cambrian explosion of complex life 541 million years ago.

Becky Ferreira, Vice

Yo Ho

Piracy analysts released a report showing that visits to illegal streaming and download sites increased 41.4 percent in the United States and 42.5 percent in the United Kingdom in the last week of March compared to the levels of piracy and piracy-linked behavior observed in the last bit of February. The company recorded 601.3 million visits to television piracy sites in the last week of March and 137.4 million total visits to film piracy sites. I’m sure there’s a perfectly logical explanation and nothing untoward whatsoever is happening, like maybe people are just looking for fun pirate-themed arts and crafts for their friends, or trying to find out what the Greek letter “μ” looks like at the same time they’re looking for a synonym for “rushing water,” or just wanted to find a nice Mother’s Day present — like, say, a 1080p John Wick Parabellum Blu-ray Download — and got very lost!

Scott Roxborough, The Hollywood Reporter

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