In 2019, more Americans went to the library than to the movies. Yes, really.

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The US film industry may have generated revenues somewhere in the region of $40 billion last year, but it seems Hollywood still has plenty of work to do if it wants to compete with that most hallowed of American institutions: the public library

Yes, according to a recent Gallup poll (the first such survey since 2001), visiting the local library remains by far the most common cultural activity Americans engage in. As reported earlier today by Justin McCarthy:

“Visiting the library remains the most common cultural activity Americans engage in, by far. The average 10.5 trips to the library U.S. adults report taking in 2019 exceeds their participation in eight other common leisure activities. Americans attend live music or theatrical events and visit national or historic parks roughly four times a year on average and visit museums and gambling casinos 2.5 times annually. Trips to amusement or theme parks (1.5) and zoos (.9) are the least common activities among this list.”

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What is the most profitable movie ever?

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‘Avatar’? ‘Blair Witch Project’? ‘Star Wars’? The Hollywood Reporter crunches the numbers to see which film has earned the most hard cash.

What’s Hollywood’s most profitable movie ever? The answer depends on how you define “profitable.”

If you think of profit purely as a ratio of production cost to box office gross, 1999’s The Blair Witch Project and 2007’s Paranormal Activity run neck and neck.

Blair Witch involved an initial outlay of $35,000 — but that was just for the shoot; once postproduction was completed, the real budget was over $200,000 (and may have been as much as $500,000), including a sound remix and a transfer to 35mm. Artisan Entertainment’s Bill Block bought the picture for just over $1 million and (after a hefty marketing spend of $6 million to $8 million domestically alone) it earned $249 million globally.

Paranormal only cost $15,000 to make. Later, however, its sound was redone for an additional $150,000; and producers Oren Peli and Jason Blum spent an extra $50,000 to reshoot the ending at Steven Spielberg’s request, bringing the total budget to $215,000. As a return on investment (ROI), looking at the initial outlay alone, that beats Blair Witch — unless you also factor in the marketing costs, in which case Blair is in pole position.

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Dead celebrity earnings show gender inequality reaches beyond the grave

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Dead famous: Elizabeth Taylor and James Dean in a still from Giant (1964). Warner Bros

Death is no excuse for celebrities to stop working. James Dean, despite being dead since 1955, has recently been cast in a new Vietnam war movie, Finding Jack. His co-starring role will be computer generated from old footage and photographs and voiced by another actor. The dead are now rivals with the living for parts in movies.

This controversial casting decision has been met with outrage by many actors on Twitter. Complaints have circulated about puppeteering as well as being disrespectful to the dead movie idol.

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‘Blade Runner’ was set in November 2019. So how close have we come to that prediction of our future?

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Science-fiction movies are pretty goddamn awesome because it goes beyond the restrictions of realism and predicts what can or cannot happen in the future. Netflix’s Black Mirror is likely everyone’s hot favourite now because it’s showing us the deranged situation we’ll be in 15-20 years from now. But what if I say that we are already living in a future that was foreseen by a movie from the 80’s? What if I say that the predictions made in it were pretty accurate and that we need to pull our socks up and start making amends? Yes, I am talking about Blade Runner.

Blade Runner is a 1982 sci-fi film directed by Ridley Scott, written by Hampton Fancher and David Peoples, and starring Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, and Sean Young. It is loosely based on Philip K. Dick’s novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? The movie is set in a dystopian (Well, not dystopian any more) future Los Angeles of 2019 in which synthetic humans (replicants) are revolting against the people who are building them and using them as slaves. That’s where Ford’s Rick Deckard comes in who’s tasked with hunting down replicants and it is through his eyes we get to see what Scott (And Dick) thinks November 2019 will look like.

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In-flight seatback screens may be going extinct

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U.S. carriers are split on whether single-aisle fleets need seatback screens. Consumer tastes are changing as in-flight Wi-Fi quality improves.

In the quest to command higher fares and traveler loyalty, airlines are constantly scrambling to market their onboard services as better than Brand X. These days, one highly visible battleground is directly in front of you: the seatback screen.

While such displays are firmly entrenched aboard long-haul fleets, helping pass the hours during ocean crossings, there’s a deep difference of opinion among U.S. carriers when it comes to domestic single-aisle jets. The advent of onboard Wi-Fi has given airlines the option of using your phone or tablet as a portal for films, television shows, and video games, avoiding the expense of costly hardware at every seat.

Three of the largest U.S. airlines — American Airlines Group Inc., United Airlines Holdings Inc., and Alaska Air Group Inc. — are removing screens from their domestic workhorses, the family of medium-range 737 and A320 aircraft sold by Boeing Co. and Airbus SE, respectively. Southwest Airlines Co. has never equipped its Boeing 737s with screens and said it has no plans to change course.

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Tesla Semi electric truck to be turned into mobile music studio by Deadmau5

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Deadmau5, a DJ and music producer, announced that he is getting a Tesla Semi electric truck to turn into a mobile music studio for his 2021 tour.

When launching Tesla Semi in 2017, the automaker said that the production versions of electric truck, which is a class 8 truck with a 80,000-pound capacity, will have 300-mile and 500-mile range options for $150,000 and $180,000, respectively.

Tesla expects that the price and specs will enable a cost of operation of $1.26 per mile, which should result in Tesla Semi providing $200,000+ in fuel savings and a two-year payback period.

Those numbers would revolutionize the transport industry in a big way, but several people have also seen an opportunity to use the electric truck for other purposes than just normal freight.

Deadmau5 is one of those people now.

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Four revolutionary technologies that are now obsolete

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Japan’s last pager has emitted its final beep.

Tokyo Telemessage, the country’s only remaining pager provider, shut down its radio signals this week, following decades of dwindling subscribers.

Pagers first went on sale in Japan in the 1960s and were known as pokeberu, or “pocket bells”. They were a popular way of contacting someone on the go. Callers could send a short message by dialling a pager number from a landline.

The device was initially used to reach salespeople who were out on the road, but later became a status symbol, clipped to the belts of city workers to demonstrate industriousness.

By the end of the 1980s, there were 60 million pager users worldwide. But within a decade, its popularity was rapidly overtaken by the mobile phone. In the UK, 86% of kids over six-years-old in the UK are now unable to identify a pager.

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Boston Dynamics’ Spot is leaving the laboratory

A new leasing program is putting dozens of robots to work in the real world

Boston Dynamics is letting its first major robot out of the lab.

Since June, the company has been talking about a public release for its Spot robot (formerly SpotMini), and today, it finally gave some details about what’s in store. The Spot isn’t going on sale exactly, but if you’re a company with a good idea (and some money), you’ll be able to get one. That also means, for the average person on the street, that the odds of seeing a Spot in the wild just got a lot better.

The capabilities are more or less what the company showed off in June, but it’s still impressive to see them in person. The Spot can go where you tell it, avoid obstacles, and keep its balance under extreme circumstances — which are all crucial skills if you’re trying to navigate an unknown environment.

The Spot can also carry up to four hardware modules on its back, giving companies a way to swap in whatever skills the robot needs for this particular job. If it’s checking for gas leaks, you can build in a methane detector. If you need connectivity over longer distances, you can attach a mesh radio module. Boston Dynamics is already outfitting units with LIDAR rigs from Velodyne (a favorite component for self-driving car projects) to create 3D maps of indoor spaces. Since the Spot is designed to work in the rain, outdoor spaces are on the table, too.

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Concerts are more expensive than ever, and fans keep paying up

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One fan saw Pink 11 times — she started saving five years ago

 Soaring ticket prices leave concert goers with no choice.

It’s not your imagination: Concert ticket prices are going through the roof.

And not just for the super wealthy who pay thousands of dollars to see the best acts from the front row. Fans of all types are paying more to see their favorite musicians.

The average price of a ticket to the 100 most popular tours in North America has almost quadrupled over the past two decades, from $25.81 in 1996 to $91.86 through the first half of this year, according to researcher Pollstar. Along with pro sports and Broadway shows, concert prices have far outpaced inflation.

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SEX MACHINE Pole-dancing ‘robot strippers’ to perform next to human dancers on stage at nightclub

ROBOT strippers will make their debut pole-dancing alongside their human counterparts in a French nightclub.

Laurent Roue, owner of the Strip Club Café in Nantes, said punters might find the gyrating plastic-and-metal robots “very sexy”.

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How K-Beauty conquered the West

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Kimchi, K-pop, and K-dramas. Welcome to Hallyu 2.0, in which everyone in the West is losing their minds over all things Korean.

Playing a starring role is a glorious onslaught of Korean beauty products, with the K-Beauty market now valued at over $13 billion, and $7.2 billion of which is from facial skin care alone. Serums, acids, oils, cushion compacts, CC creams, BB creams, masks that bubble on your face, masks to sleep in, volcanic clay, and snail slime are seeing improbably explosive popularity, and they’ve done so with accessible pricing and cute packaging that has grown women reaching for panda face masks.

“What people don’t see is the amount of government support and PR that drives interest.”

Jude Chao, director of marketing for BeautyTap and somewhat of an oracle on K-Beauty (who also happens to have excellent skin) believes in empowering the masses with education on K-Beauty ingredients. (Her blog, Fifty Shades of Snail, is a solid starting point if you’re overwhelmed by the 12,000 active brands on the market, the proliferation of which Chao believes is no coincidence.)

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Chinese vertical dramas made for phone viewing show the future of mobile video

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Mobile video is a big deal, but you don’t need me to tell you that. Big Tech has been fast-moving into the mobile video space for a few years now, and recently a slew of mobile-specific content has arrived.

Instagram launched IGTV in 2018, and is pushing creators to explore what’s possible for mobile video. Netflix introduced vertical 30-second previews, and is now experimenting with mobile-first features like vibrating movies. Spotify is releasing vertical music videos. Snap is delivering plenty of premium mobile video content with its Snap Originals, and has more on the way.

But compared to traditional videos which have been around since 1895, mobile video is still a newborn baby. And for new parents, a good way to learn parenting is to look at what others are doing. On that note, mobile video producers should direct their attention to a format Chinese media companies have been experimenting with: the vertical drama (竖屏剧; shùpíngjù).

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