Numlock News: March 29, 2021 • Godzilla, Asteroid Impact, Applebee's

By Walt Hickey

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THEY SCOOCHED THE BOAT

Efforts to dislodge the thoroughly lodged Ever Given from its improvised dry dock in the Suez Canal proceeded this weekend, with 14 tugboats on Saturday working the vessel at high tide to try to wiggle it out of its place. The Suez Canal Authority said that dredgers had shifted 27,000 cubic meters of sand, down to a depth of 59 feet. On Sunday morning, the vessel remained very stuck, but there had also been progress: the rudder that seriously let us down last week was moving, as was the propeller. This culminated in an initial victory, with the Ever Given partly refloated as of 4:30 a.m. Monday morning local time, following a second attempt from 10 tugboats. If you work for a major studio and want a Balto-style treatment on the tugboats, get in touch I can have something for you by Wednesday at the latest.

BBC News, Jack Wittels, Salma El Wardany, and Mirette Magdy, Bloomberg

Takeout

Large, corporate restaurants have made a killing throughout the pandemic by cosplaying as small indie restaurants on food delivery apps. Shops like Cosmic Wings (it’s an Applebee’s), It’s Just Wings (it’s actually just Chili’s), Chicken Sammy’s (you’re enjoying Red Robin) and Tender Shack (g’day, it’s Outback Steakhouse) have flooded apps, and they’re doing serious business; owners expect Tender Shack to do $75 million in annual sales when it rolls out nationwide, and It’s Just Wings is looking at $150 million. All told, virtual brands and ghost kitchens are projected to be 6 percent to 8 percent of global food spending by 2030, hauling in $1 trillion in sales, according to Euromonitor.

Heather Haddon and Preetika Rana, The Wall Street Journal

Who Would Win

Godzilla vs. Kong made $121.8 million at the foreign box office, the largest international opening of the pandemic era by a long shot, beating Tenet’s $53 million from last fall. The tense, intricately scripted and riveting legal drama which tells the fateful, inspiring decision of the Supreme Court case Godzilla v. Kong, I assume, made $12.4 million globally in Imax ticket sales alone. It was a particularly big hit in China, where it made up 82 percent of the market share, and its $70.3 million debut makes it the biggest opening for a foreign title since 2019.

Pamela McClintock, The Hollywood Reporter

Oscars

Last year the Oscars generated about $129.2 million in ad sales, up from $114.2 million in 2019. In recent years, ads have gone for $1.8 million to $2 million for a 30-second spot during the awards show, and all indications have ABC pushing for about $2 million per 30-second spot for the forthcoming April 25 ceremony. While the Super Bowl attracts all sorts of top-dollar advertisers, the Oscars attracts a different set of brands, with 2020’s top buyers including Verizon, which dropped $12.9 million, Rolex, which dropped $11.3 million, and Cadillac, which spent $10.7 million. As a result of the luxury skew, the Oscars have prevailed in commanding top dollar from advertisers despite the audience declines that have beset linear television.

Brian Steinberg, Variety

Apophis

There is no chance that the asteroid Apophis will hit Earth within the next 100 years, said NASA in a press release that was definitely not written by the asteroid Apophis under an assumed name. The space agency had analyzed potential close calls in 2029 and 2036 from Apophis, and determined that the asteroid will definitely not hit us then, but there was still a possible impact in 2068 that they needed to look into, and the good news is that we’re in the clear. "A 2068 impact is not in the realm of possibility any more,” said a NASA scientist who was not a cleverly-disguised asteroid. The asteroid — named after the Egyptian god of chaos and darkness — is about 340 meters across. The closest approach will be on April 13, 2029, when the asteroid won’t come any closer than 32,000 kilometers of Earth though admittedly this would be exactly what a dark chaos god would want us to think, to get our guard down and all.

BBC News

Proof of Work

Non-fungible tokens, the new thing in crypto turning artistic works into blockchain-backed financial instruments for some reason, does have a measurable impact on the environment. Sales are up 1,700 percent between December 2020 and February 2021, with the average NFT selling for $975, though that number is particularly inflated by massive sales and the vast majority sell for far less. The method to define a crypto asset is called proof of work, where a miner proves they did computational work before adding something to the blockchain. If I were to just print and mail a digital print to someone, it would cause 2.3 kilograms of CO2 emissions over the course of the process. Meanwhile, over the course of its lifecycle, the average NFT will accrue 211 kilograms of CO2 emissions, or the equivalent of a 513-mile drive. A different way of producing NFTs — called Proof of Stake — could knock that down to 2.11 kg of CO2, but it depends on which platforms win out.

Erin Davis, Quartz

Carnivores

A new analysis from the Food Industry Association and a meat and poultry industry group found sales of meat hit $82.5 billion in 2020, up 19.2 percent over 2019. Despite the increase, there are signs in the data that the meat aisle’s hegemony over protein may be shakier than it has been before; in 2019, the percentage of consumers who identified as “meat eaters” stood at 85 percent according to the report, but in 2020 that had dipped to 71 percent who identified as meat eaters. About 34 percent of shoppers said they were trying to cut back on meat in their diet.

Catherine Douglas Moran, Food Dive

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