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No ‘going back’ to old way of movie watching

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No 'going back' to old way of movie watching

Disney Chief Executive Bob Chapek said the pandemic has likely permanently narrowed the window for movies to play only in theaters.

Pre-pandemic, cinemas depended on an exclusive 90-day window to screen films before they were made available to home distribution channels, such as pay TV and streaming services. But now, studios are tinkering with that timeframe, either shortening it or doing away with it altogether.

“The consumer is probably more impatient than they’ve ever been before, particularly since now they’ve had the luxury of an entire year of getting titles at home pretty much when they want them,” Chapek said late Monday at a virtual conference hosted by Morgan Stanley.

“I’m not sure there’s going back,” he continued. “But we certainly don’t want to do anything like cut the legs off a theatrical exhibition run.”

He added that customers don’t have “tolerance” for the months-long period after a movie is in theaters and before it is available to stream.

“It’s just sort of sitting there, gathering dust,” he said.

Since the pandemic has shuttered or reduced the capacity of movie theaters, Hollywood studios have all reevaluated their release strategies.

Paramount and Universal have either shrunk or announced plans to shrink the usual window from 74 days to more like 30 or 45. And recently, Warner Bros. decided to concurrently stream its full slate of  2021 films on HBO Max for one month after they premiere in theaters. 

Disney, which controls up to half of the box office, has taken a cautious approach, evaluating each film’s release strategy and eventual debut on its service, Disney+.

Chapek said that a middle path — the “Premier Access,” or the simultaneous deployment of streaming and theaters — would remain a distribution option for the foreseeable future. For example, animated feature “Raya and the Last Dragon” will go out via that method on Friday, costing $30 to subscribers to Disney+.

The CEO underscored the importance of Disney’s massive box office appeal, noting that in 2019 it grossed $11 billion.

“That is a big deal to us, and that will continue to be a big deal to us,” he said, but added that at the same time, “we realize that this is a very fluid situation.”

Since its launch in November 2019, Disney+ has logged almost 100 million subscribers in several dozen countries and is projected to clear 200 million over the next three years. Chapek said the fact that 50 percent of its subscribers globally do not have kids was a key driver and an unexpected one.

“What we didn’t realize was the non-family appeal that a service like Disney+ would have,” he said. “That is the big difference.”

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El Salvador volcanoes to power bitcoin mining

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El Salvador volcanoes to power bitcoin mining

Bitcoin is red-hot in El Salvador — and the country says it plans to use power from its volcanoes to mine it.

El Salvador President Nayib Bukele — just hours after the country’s legislature approved the “Bitcoin Law,” making it the first to accept Bitcoin as legal tender — revealed Wednesday that the nation’s state-owned geothermal electric company will harness volcanic energy to mine the cryptocurrency.

Bukele said the country is already designing a mining hub that will use “very cheap, 100% clean, 100% renewable” energy from volcanoes to power the operation, which effectively would be a bank of super-powered computers that solve the complex mathematical equations required to mine Bitcoin.

“Our engineers just informed me that they dug a new well,” Bukele tweeted, saying it would generate 95 megawatts of energy — enough to power more than 500 homes for a year. “What you see coming out of the well is pure water vapor.”

Bukele — who is looking to lower transaction fees on the $6 billion in yearly remittances sent to its citizens from abroad — has yet, however, to reveal when the new operation will be live or how many Bitcoins he expects to be able to mine.

It’s been a bullish week for Bitcoin in El Salvador. The digital coin can now be used as payment for goods, services, and taxes in the public and private sector. Bitcoin rose 6 percent on the news, according to data from Coindesk.

According to a study by Cambridge University, Bitcoin mining consumes more energy per year than the Philippines. Elon Musk has met with Bitcoin miners about environmental concerns, recently citing them as he announced Tesla would no longer accept Bitcoin as payment.

Details about the mining efforts and how El Salvador will widely adopt Bitcoin remain vague. The law states it will provide “the necessary training and mechanisms” to allow the 70 percent of its citizens that don’t have access to traditional banking services to understand how they can use Bitcoin but didn’t elaborate.

Still, Bukele remains an enthusiastic advocate for the currency and his mining project. Late Thursday he tweeted drone footage of the new mine with a rainbow in the background.

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China arrests 1,100 crypto users on money laundering charges

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China arrests 1,100 crypto users on money laundering charges

China’s crackdown on cryptocurrencies is heating up with a series of arrests that suggest digital currency users can be traced.

More than 1,100 people who allegedly used cryptocurrencies to launder profits from frauds were arrested Wednesday, the country’s Ministry of Public Security said in a statement. 

The busts involved 170 criminal groups who authorities say hired “coin farmers” to open crypto accounts after bank accounts they used for their alleged scams had been seized.

“The high illegal income attracts a large number of people to participate, causing serious social harm,” the ministry said of the alleged plots.

The arrests may cast further doubt on the supposed un-traceability of cryptocurrencies. On Tuesday, the price of bitcoin fell almost 12 percent after it was revealed that US authorities were able to reclaim most of a bitcoin ransom that Colonial Pipeline paid to hacker group DarkSide in May. 

“Criminals have been using bitcoin because of the supposed inability of governments to get at it,” Anthony Denier, CEO of trading platform Webull, told the Post on Tuesday. “If governments can claw it back, that hurts its appeal.” 

Wednesday’s arrests are part of a broader Chinese crackdown on crypto. They come less than a month after the government called for greater regulation of digital currencies.

A committee presided over by a member of China’s Politburo wrote in May that it is necessary to “crack down on bitcoin mining and trading behavior, and resolutely prevent the transmission of individual risks to the social field.” 

Worries about bitcoin’s traceability and the looming threat of government regulations have sent the cryptocurrency plummeting from its peak of more than $63,000 in April. Bitcoin was trading at about $37,600 Thursday morning. 

Additional reporting by Will Feuer

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Burger King flambes Chic-Fil-A online, donates to LGBTQ foundation

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Burger King flambes Chic-Fil-A online, donates to LGBTQ foundation

They just served them a double whopper.

Burger King may have lost the restaurant-chain battle, but they’re charging ahead in the sandwich wars: The burger monger flame-broiled queer-rights critic Chick-fil-A in a Pride Month tweet in which they pledged to donate the proceeds from their new chicken sandwich to an LGBTQ charity. The provocative post currently boasts over 7,000 likes online.

Burger King tweeted last week that 40 cents from every one of their new hand-breaded Ch’King sandwiches sold during June will go to the Human Rights Campaign, which is the world’s largest LGBTQ-rights organization, Fox News reported. BK will contribute up to $250,000, according to the tweet.

The patty purveyor doubled down with a shot at Chick-fil-A, writing that the deal is good “even on Sundays,” when the devoutly Christian chicken chain shuts its doors.

The verbal whopper comes after years of opposition to Atlanta-based Chick-fil-A, which contributed millions to organizations that opposed same-sex marriage. In turn, that got the restaurant banned from several airports and schools across the country.

In 2019, Chick-fil-A announced that it would no longer donate to the Salvation Army, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and other groups that have been criticized for their stances on LGBTQ issues.

BK is surely hoping the charitable act will help give the chain a leg up in the ongoing battle for chicken-sandwich dominance, which Chick-fil-A is currently winning in terms of total sales.

The chicken-driven competition began in 2019, when Popeyes’ new sandwich sold out at many of its stores after just two weeks on the menu. 

Since then, the largest US fast-food chains, from KFC to Wendy’s, have introduced new chicken-laden menus or announced plans to do so.

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