By Walt Hickey
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Japan’s pop culture has long punched above its weight, with the nation’s thriving animation scene and other cultural exports becoming increasingly common around the world. Prior to 2014, Japan’s animation industry hadn’t yet seen overseas sales north of ¥300 billion (about $2.8 billion), but that figure has risen steadily over the past few years hitting ¥768 billion (about $7.1 billion) in 2016. Still, those profits don’t necessarily end up in Japan, as platforms like Netflix and Crunchyroll — owned by AT&T — reap much of the haul. Japan has seen its animation exports thrill, but has not yet secured an internationally successful live-action business befitting their ample VFX tech. Part of this is because Japan’s companies tend to look to domestic markets for reliable revenues rather than eyeing the riskier riches to be found abroad. Either way, that international cultural footprint certainly has some impact, as tourism is spiking even beyond the government’s goals, rising from 6.2 million visitors in 2011 to 31.2 million in 2018.
New Jersey has a reputation to restore as the capital of American’s moral decay, and came ever closer to cementing its place as the nexus of vice with a massive and earlier-than-expected win against Vegas when it comes to sports betting. In May, New Jersey sportsbooks took in $318.9 million in bets, which is $1.5 million higher than the $317.4 million taken by Nevada sports books. May is a huge month for sports gaming, with the confluence of the NBA Finals and Stanley Cup playoff. In the first 12 months, Jersey took in $2.9 billion in bets, resulting in $200 million in revenue for the sports books.
As scooters assert their place in the American cityscape, there’s what can generously be described as enormous legal confusion over who is liable for what and which laws scooter motorists must abide by. Laws related to scooters, skateboards, and electric unicycles were rarely if at all enforced, with their classification ranging from toys to effectively automobiles. Caught off guard, cities have stampeded to deal with the ambiguities. At the beginning of 2019, 44 electronic scooter bills had been introduced in 26 states. Factoring in injury liability — a CDC study found scooter riders sustained one injury per 5,000 miles travelled, half of which were head injuries — those accepting those terms and conditions have some higher stakes than a mildly intrusive internet cookie.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences extended invitations to 842 Hollywood types from 59 countries. AMPAS is the organization that votes on the Oscars, and already recent pushes to invite new members means that a massive chunk of Academy members have joined within the past several years. Women made up half of those invited to join in this round, and 29 percent of the invited individuals were people of color. The 842 invitations is slightly lower than the 928 invited last year, but already something like 40 percent of the Academy joined within the past five years. As a result of the increased invitation rate, the percentage of women in the Academy rose from 25 percent in 2015 to 32 percent in 2019, which is bad, but a significant increase. This will put the size of the Academy at about 9,042 members and would increase its size about 10 percent.
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A survey of members of Gen Z — those young souls aged seven to 22 who aim to supplant the millennial generation as the Boomers bête noire — are not cool with how things are going at the moment, with 36 percent of respondents saying they believe things are going poorly and another 19 percent going so far as to say things are going very poorly. They’re more similar to their millennial brethren than Gen X or the Boomers: for instance, a full 54 percent agree that human activity is causing global warming, in league with the 56 percent of Millennials.
Domestic movie revenue in the first six months of the year was down 9.4 percent compared to last year, with the summer box office down 7.3 percent so far. Disney, which now includes Fox, hauled in 40 percent of the box office so far, mainly through the $5.2 billion made worldwide by Avengers: Endgame, Captain Marvel, Toy Story 4 and Aladdin alone. In a far, far second place Warner Bros. and Universal ties, each with essentially 15.3 percent of the market. Sony, which has Spider-Man: Far From Home out in several hours, has 5.8 percent, and Paramount, which does not have anything of note on the calendar, has 5.4 percent.
Germany has long spurned air conditioning, preferring to simply cancel work in the summer should it get too hot rather than install costly and environmentally negative air conditioning units. But as the world warms, that Germanic stubbornness is being put to the test. The share of German homes with air conditioning could rise as high as 13 percent by 2030, compared to the 3 percent it stood at in 2015. To install one, there’s a 60-page manual of rules for property owners, and the installation requires the authorization of co-owners and neighbors as well.
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