The Economics Of Amazon’s Decision To Create A Lord Of The Rings TV Show

November 14, 2017 in Daily Bulletin

Amazon struck a deal to create a series of prequels for Lord of the Rings. Derek Thompson looked at the staggering economics of the deal:

  • Amazon is thought to have paid $250 million just to acquire the rights to create a show.
  • Actually producing one will cost hundreds of millions more, and then there’s marketing costs.
  • Amazon might wind up spending half a billion dollars on creating a show – that most people will just stream as part of their existing Amazon subscription.
  • Still, Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings movies made $6 billion across six films, so maybe the economics will work out well.
  • And adding more content to a well-explored universe has proven to be lucrative for others. Disney, after all, has essentially been making the same Marvel movie repeatedly for over a decade now.
  • People like the familiar. Despite all the money spent on original content, people are most likely to watch back catalogues of old favourites on streaming services.
  • And it makes sense for Amazon to bet big on a few headline shows. The rewards of having one great show can be exponentially better than having several good ones.

Read more analysis on The Atlantic.

Hollywood’s Real Life Loopers

November 13, 2017 in Daily Bulletin

Susan Stamberg wrote about Loopers who, turns out, are background voice artists, not contracted time travelling assassins:

  • Loopers provide ambient human voices for public scenes such as those set in restaurants.
  • Producers will ask the actors to educate themselves on the location they’re shooting for – they should talk about local sports teams or weather – even if the dialogue is typically inaudible.
  • A silent film reel will play on a screen and loopers will mill about a giant microphone speaking as if they were off-screen extras.
  • Television shows will usually have around six layers of looper tracks to add real depth to a scene – major motion pictures will have many more.
  • Loopers don’t always provide human voices. In Happy Feet and its sequel, loopers were asked to emit the noise that krill – small loud crustaceans – make.
  • The most fun looper roles typically involve bloodcurdling screams.

Read more on NPR.

Forbes’ 400 Billionaires List Is Probably All Wrong

November 9, 2017 in Daily Bulletin

Forbes has a list of the world’s 400 wealthiest people. You can’t trust it, wrote Preeti Varathan and Max de Haldevang:

  • Wilbur Ross, the US Secretary of Commerce was found to have successfully tricked Forbes into putting his name on the billionaires list – even though he was a hundred millionaire at best.
  • There is evidence that Donald Trump similarly never quite made it to the billionaire’s club. But he convinced Forbes that he was one…and that probably helped him become President of the United States.
  • One trick is to argue for an impossibly high valuation, thus convincing Forbes that when they come up with a valuation that’s just implausibly high, they’re being conservative.
  • Entrepreneurs try to boost estimates of their wealth because it lends them an air of credibility that makes business deals easier to negotiate.
  • Meanwhile those that inherit their wealth typically try to lower estimates of their net worth to prevent solicitation from charities, or friends and family.

Read more on Quartz.

Ladies, The World’s Last Male Northern White Rhino Is On Tinder

November 8, 2017 in Daily Bulletin

Desperate times call for desperate measures when it comes to ensuring a future for Northern White Rhinos, wrote Thomas Page:

  • There are three Northern White Rhinos left in the world – two females, one male.
  • The one male seems to have given up on his species – he has been reluctant to procreate.
  • And so he joined Tinder.
  • It is part of a publicity stunt to raise the $10 million needed for invitro fertilization, to preserve the line of rhinos.
  • His Tinder profile includes the statement “I don’t mean to be too forward, but the fate of my species literally depends on me” – those that swipe right can then donate.
  • His general disinterest in procreation seems to appeal to the Tinder crowd. So many people swiped right on his profile that the donation website crashed soon after he made his Tinder debut.

Read more on CNN.

You can donate to the project here.

You can find the rest of Centives’ coverage on rhinos here.

Principles Of Behavioural Economics In Supermarket Design

November 7, 2017 in Daily Bulletin

Cracked put together a list of psychological tricks that supermarkets use to boost sales. Highlights include:

  • The mascots on breakfast cereals often look downwards – to catch the eyes of children.
  • The aisles with the highest margin items sometimes have smaller floor tiles to slow down shopping carts, increasing time spent at the store.
  • Flowers are typically sold at the entrance of supermarkets to prime customers into thinking about freshness.
  • Removing dollar signs from prices – so that it reads 9.99 instead of $9.99 – makes the money seem more abstract, and purchases more likely.
  • Scents can affect spending – a coconut fragrance in the swimwear aisle increases sales.
  • Supermarkets don’t want shoppers to settle into a routine – they will shuffle around inventory, so more time is spent looking for staple buys.

Read the full list on Cracked.

New Birthday Party Idea: Go To Court

November 6, 2017 in Daily Bulletin

Daniel L. Chen and Arnaud Philippe looked into the compassionate side of judges:

  • Judges are more likely to give lenient sentences to defendants if they are sentenced on their birthday.
  • Judges reduce the length of prison sentences by 2% if it’s the defendant’s birthday on the day of the sentencing.
  • If the defendant takes time out of their birthday to show up in person, they can expect their sentence to go down almost 3%.

Read the entire study here.

Via: Marginal Revolution

Cable Cars Could Be The Next Big Thing

November 3, 2017 in Daily Bulletin

The Economist wrote about the boom in Latin American cable cars:

  • As a mode of public transportation cable cars don’t cause the disruption that other public works projects – like subways or bus lanes – typically do.
  • They’re quick to build which means that politicians that authorize them are typically around long enough for the ribbon cutting – and the subsequent electoral rewards.
  • They’re particularly popular in Latin America’s more mountainous terrain where cable cars are an ideal form of transportation.
  • Thieves are more likely to strike in public buses -they typically leave cable cars alone.
  • And the more intimate nature of cable cars – two benches facing each other – helps encourage conversation and build community.

Read more in The Economist.

It’s A Bird…It’s A Plane…It’s A…Train?

November 1, 2017 in Daily Bulletin

Zheping Huang wrote about a flying train:

  • Impressed by the idea of Elon Musk’s Hyperloop, China is planning its own “flying train”.
  • The plan is to build a train that can run at 4,000 kilometers per hour – three times the speed of sound.
  • If China achieves this the train will be ten times faster than the fastest bullet train in the world – and four times faster than a commercial jet.
  • It will also be faster than Musk’s Hyperloop – which is only projected to reach speeds of 1,200 kilometers per hour.
  • Critics note that any such transport system would likely be prohibitively expensive compared to an airline ticket.

Read more on the World Economic forum.

After A Company Added “Blockchain” To Its Name Its Share Price Surged

October 31, 2017 in Daily Bulletin

Lisa Pham wrote about the idiosyncrasies of the stocks market:

  • “On-line Plc” announced that its new name would be “On-line Blockchain PLC”.
  • The company’s share price jumped 400% after the announcement.
  • Executives hurriedly released a statement saying that their blockchain product was in an early stage.
  • The share price remained elevated – adding fuel to concerns that cryptocurrencies are a bubble.
  • This seemingly irrational exuberance has happened before. A company in Colorado changes its name from “Bioptix Inc.” to “Riot Blockchain” – and saw its market value double.
  • The social media industry – also a potential bubble – has had its fair share of vagaries too. SNAP Interactive saw its share price rise 150% soon after Snapchat announced plans to list as “SNAP”.

Read more on Bloomberg.

Paris Has Sparkling Water Fountains

October 30, 2017 in Daily Bulletin

Feargus O’Sullivan reviewed Paris’ sparkling water fountains:

  • Paris currently has a network of 8 sparkling water fountains – and it is looking to expand.
  • Officials say that they promote hydration – more people are willing to replenish themselves if the water sparkles.
  • The fountains themselves don’t look that glamorous; the one O’Sullivan reviewed was covered in graffiti and slime.
  • The water, though, was delicious, and may well encourage passer bys to take a gulp.

Read the full review on City Lab.