MoviePass, the incomprehensibly solvent subscription service that lets customers attend movie screenings for about $10 per month, has exceeded 3 million paying subscribers and projects 5 million subscribers by year's end. The company claimed Wednesday that it represents 5 percent of U.S. box office receipts. On one hand, that's really high! On the other, I am a self-employed culture writer in New York during summer blockbuster season and I am riding my MoviePass like I stole it.
Dave McNary, Variety
Warner Bros. announced they plan to release 1,000 minutes of new Looney Tunes shorts, with the finished products clocking in at a cool one to six minutes apiece. From 1930 to 1969, Warner Bros. released hundreds of such shorts prior to theatrical releases, many of which went on to win Academy Awards.
Eric Vilas-Boas, Dot and Line
Comcast offered $65 billion cash for the Hollywood assets of 21st Century Fox, rivaling a $52.4 billion all-stock bid for the assets from The Walt Disney Co. This is poised to trigger a bidding war between the two companies over who gets to scoop up one of the few remaining studios. It's sort of crazy that the outcome of a monumental merger may be determined by how Rupert Murdoch feels about season four of "30 Rock."
Brian Steinberg, Variety
Billy McFarland, who two months ago pleaded guilty to defrauding investors over the disastrous if somewhat hilarious debacle that was the Fyre Festival, is in more hot water. McFarland failed to plan an enormous music festival for social influencers, stranding some in the Bahamas and piling up losses of $26 million. This week prosecutors announced it appears McFarland was at it again, allegedly defrauding about fifteen customers of $100,000 in a ticket scheme that took place after he had been charged with that other fraud. Man, I hope those "SpongeBob SquarePants: The Musical" tickets he sold me are good.
Matt Stevens, The New York Times
Enormous Martian Storm Attempts To Murder Robot?
A Martian dust storm covering 14 million square miles, or about a quarter of the planet, has put the future of the Opportunity rover in jeopardy. The solar-powered robot cannot get power during the storm and is believed to be in power fault mode, a situation where only the mission clock is running in an attempt to save critical battery life. It is believed to be days before we find out if Mars has succeeded in its latest attempt to murder this robot or if once again Opportunity will cheat death. Opportunity was designed for a 90-day mission and has lasted nearly 15 years.
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
In 46 out of 106 countries surveyed by the Pew Research Center, adults aged 18 to 39 were less likely than adults aged 40 and up to say religion is very important to them. In 58 countries, there wasn't a significant difference between the religiosity of the youths and their elders. And in only two countries — Ghana and the former Soviet republic of Georgia — were younger adults more religious than older adults.
Pew Research Center
A 2013 study about the health effects of the Mediterranean diet published in the New England Journal of Medicine has been retracted. The study claimed that people on the diet were less likely to experience a heart attack or stroke than those on a low fat diet, but it turns out the sample wasn't as random as researchers thought. About14 percent of the more than 7,400 study participants had not been assigned to the low-fat or Mediterranean groups randomly.
Alison McCook, NPR