Tag Archives: Avengers: Endgame

The trivial and the not so

First the trivial, although $1.66 billion is no trivial matter, it is now one week that Avengers Endgame is in play (for a few countries 8 days) and it has made a staggering $1,664,151,786 so far, and it is now in 5th position on the list of biggest box office successes in the world right behind Avengers: Infinity War, It will not surpass that before the end of the weekend I reckon, yet by Sunday evening it will surpass both its older brother as well as Star Wars, the Force Awakens, less than two weeks and it will be nipping at the heels of the 20 year standing record of Titanic, the movie is going that fast and there is no stopping it, people want to see it more than once (I would really like to see the 3D version) which was not available to me on opening night. At this point 50% of the top 10 most successful box office titles are all Marvel titles. It made me think back to a conversation I had with some director on how he thought that Fantasy movies had no place to go in the 80’s at the Rotterdam ‘Lantaren Venster’ film festival. That conversation is currently making me giggle, the man was sincere in his belief and that is fine, and just like the Deer hunter is not for everyone, neither is Monster Inc.; we all have different takes on what we call entertainment and what we want to see on the big screen, yet I never forgot his view and me being the eternal diplomat remarking at that point to him on how amazing the movie Krull was (I had a mean streak in those days), and with actors like Liam Neeson (Kegan) how could it not be? He was not stricken with a sense of humour, let me assure you of that.

I never had any doubt that Endgame was going to get where it was now, yet the speed at which it did blew me away, it still does. The fact that during the week, in what is usually regarded as the lull of movie incomes, Avengers: Endgame added half a billion like it was a casual shower moment for Scrooge McDuck inside the United States Mint.

As for the not so trivial we need to take a look at Tesla. The Guardian gave us yesterday (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/may/02/tesla-elon-musk-raise-money-stocks-bonds) ‘Tesla seeks to raise $2.3bn after concerns it is running out of money‘, even as the newspaper is giving us: “Company announced last week it had lost $702m in the first three months of the year and sold 31% fewer vehicles in the first quarter“, that does not mean that we should go all negative on Tesla. Yet the part that does give rise to concern is: “Founder Elon Musk has previously dismissed the idea of raising more money but in the last earnings call said: “Tesla today is a far more efficiently operating organization than it was a year ago. We’ve made dramatic improvements across the board. And so I think there’s merit to the idea of raising capital at this point.”” When I see ‘a far more efficiently operating organization than it was a year ago‘ I wonder what that is based upon. Consider the cost of being somewhere, why is Tesla in two locations in Sydney, have Sydney sales given rise to a second store? They did the same thing for Melbourne, Amsterdam the Netherlands and we could go on, but when you realise that these are premium locations no matter where you are in the city, having an American approach to locations in Europe, your logistical cost will go through the roof and that is what is happening. The same for Sweden, yet there the cost setting might differ considerably and having part in Täby might make sense, although there are alternatives near Solna as well, perhaps it was a good deal. Now there is a second part, are these Tesla ‘owned’ places or are they independent dealers? No matter what, there are larger costs to consider like displays, parts to show and other items, and many of these places are in expensive areas, now we can agree that there might need to be one, but two?

It goes further that; it is not merely about the stores, it is about awareness to a much larger degree. You see charging the car is still an issue and yes there are solutions. Some look at the home charging solution. Yet consider the amount of energy required, your electricity bill will skyrocket. Now, there are alternatives, first there are solar panels and there we see: “This is why pairing a charging station with a solar panel system is a great solution for EV owners and solar panel owners alike“, I am less optimistic. Depending on several factors you could need up to 70 panels (low end 1kWh a day panel), and when we start looking at the options, when we go for a generic 7kWh solution, we get an annual average of anywhere between the numbers of 20 – 29 kWh daily created. Now this is merely one third of your battery, the question becomes, so you need a 100% every day? When we go commercial sized (30 kWh) we see that the production get to be between 86-133 kWh a day, so basically that takes you off the grid and give you a daily 100% charge, yet the price is also there. At prices that go up to roughly $30,000 – $40,000, now this is not to scare you. Consider that the car ‘fuel’ is free from thereon after, also your house electricity bill is reduced to almost zero, even better you can sell your excess energy to the energy provider, so there is that, but is that what you were after?

Why does this all matter?

It matters as I went to see a Tesla a few weeks ago, merely because I was curious and the Black Men’s Corp Jacket looked appealing for the upcoming winter ($120, which I did not get), and the Models looked pretty cool too (so did the Roadster), yet when I looked into charging, there was a little vagueness (unintentional mind you) they showed the charging unit, and it got me to think things through. I got from more than one source relative the same results “the average petrol car in Australia uses 11.1 litres of fuel to travel 100km (Australian Bureau of Statistics). That’s a cost of $16.65 to travel 100km at $1.50 per litre2. Even a very efficient diesel vehicle (5 litres per 100km) will cost $7.50“, most sites were all about how much cheaper the electricity was, not how much it would cost, so I got one result giving me “the average price for electricity per kilowatt hour (kWh) in Australia is about $0.25 and it takes around 18 kWh to travel 100km in an average EV. So, it will cost approximately $4.50 in electricity charges to travel 100km“, now we have something to work with. If you take the average annual driver distance (20K and divide that by 100) we now see that you are facing an optional saving of $900, not something you can ignore, but we all forget the infrastructure and now my panel viewing becomes important. If we see the brownouts that are going on all over, the switch to Tesla means that the price of electricity goes through the roof at some point, a shortage will do that for you, when everyone needs more electricity, prices go up, and that initial 30 kWh solution now becomes a more interesting money maker, but overall it is not the only path or method to rely on. You see, when the price changes we suddenly see that the $900 savings become a mere $420 savings, yet on the other side your electricity bill rises steadily and with the panels you avoid that 100%, optionally adding income to your household. I do believe that for now the 30 kWh is overkill and as we might not need a full battery every day, we could start with the 10 kWh solution, or even better if they have the plus package (double paneling). The initial $10,000 will earn itself back over 3-4 years and more important it will aid in lowering the electricity bill as the panels can do more than just reload the car battery. More important the larger issue will be the 40 panels, so apartment owners are almost directly out of the race for now, more important, when you have a solution that sets the stage for a doubling down the road with minimum extra you would be looking at reducing the bulk of your electricity bill which is not the worst idea in summer (AC’s swallow electricity like sponges) and that is where we need to look at with Tesla, as we can use Tesla battery power in other ways, the solution becomes an actual larger solution.

They are all about the car and rightfully so, but when did you look around for a battery charge point? That matters, because when there are no options and it must be done at home, you need to have the proper electricity contract, even if that is not the case now, it will be in the future. In Australia, we see Energy Australia giving us: ‘first 10.9589 kWh of peak usage per day‘, then we see ‘Next 10.9589 kWh of peak usage per day‘ and ‘Balance of Peak usage > 21.9178 kWh‘, the prices are all the same for now, but when that changes, which it always does over time? When we see that those in the highest range are charged an additional 5-15 cents per kWh? That will change the cost of living picture real fast and real direct. Now the electrical car is another matter and there is no way that these fears are not with every consumer looking at an electrical car the day after they receive their energy bill, fuel is still more expensive for now; yet when we see it against the Tesla that starts at $112,000 and the highest performance model at $137,000, the math does not work for the largest extent of people. I got here the long way round because it is not the buying of a Maserati that breaks the bank account (for those who can afford it), it is the annual insurance and fuel cost that grab you by the tender spot and makes you regret the choice. Now that we see that and we see that a new 2019 Infiniti Q70 is a mere $48,712 and that is not even close to the cheapest solution, so there is a saving of no less than $63K, if you put that in your super and use the interest to pay for the insurance and fuel you’ll end up paying the cost and growing your fortune, and that by merely banking the additional cost for a Tesla. So no matter how ‘environmentally aware’ you are, the entire saving part becomes a myth and when we see that and we consider that Musk is running out of cash in a myth based created car need that shows that there is a market, yet not with the hardworking population that makes up for a little over 65% of all workers, Elon Musk has a car that is supposed to be for those who prefer high end cars, all whilst we see that the new 2019 Jaguar XF Starts at $50,960, we see that there is a market for people, but is it with Tesla? Consider the question ‘when was the last time you could afford to handover $60K for keeping environmental principles?‘ I met two last year, one was driving a Lamborghini, the other has a black Mercedes-AMG, I reckon they will not join the Tesla community any day soon.

So as I took you on the scenic route towards the drive that Elon Musk requires us all to take and the fact that he seeks $2.3bn, implying he might pressingly need $1.5B by quarter end is a matter for concern, not because of the innovation he created, that is clear and down the track he will be the first; where would Henry Ford be if he never created the Model T? Elon Musk might be the next Henry Ford down the line, yet when we see certain steps taken, we need to see that ‘a far more efficiently operating organization‘ sounds as nice as seeing an organisation grow by 100%, yet when the reality is that they grew from 4 members to 8, we need to seriously consider where we are at and that is where I see Tesla at present. It looks great, yet it is for the bulk of all of us too unaffordable and the bulk of those who can afford it can get the luxury Nissan (Infiniti) or a new Jaguar at half the price and that is where Elon Musk is stationed, in a small niche and in all this.

I do not see the market going his way and that remains to be the sad part, because if he pulls it off and creates a large enough market it will be a historic day for him and for America, they need a win like this in the United States of America where they are in a technology drought. They currently lack of true innovation in too many fields and they show a lack of true new technologies, not amendments or mere iterative steps from the old models that exist. Elon Musk has that one true new technology and I hope that the US can stage it to an actual large enough market, I truly do.

 

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Merely the beginning

Yes, the news is full of the overwhelming success that Avengers: Endgame is and rightfully so, yet the Washington Post looks further. The article (at https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/avengers-endgamemakes-disney-invincible-in-2019-then-what/2019/04/29/b5e35016-6aaf-11e9-bbe7-1c798fb80536_story.html) gives light to the strategy that is surrounding Disney plus as owners of the Marvel franchise. We get part of it with: “Disney’s films will no longer get licensed to partners such as Netflix during what’s known as the “pay one window;” instead, they’ll go exclusively on Disney+. That’s a big selling point for the streaming app, but it’s a costly decision that reduces the amount of licensing revenue Disney can earn from its films after they leave theaters.” this is a point of view that is true and the strategy is valid, yet having the stage where we see a time exclusivity (like in gaming) where the others get the option after 6 months is not to be ignored as an alternative. In addition, the mention of the ‘real’ editions of the time honoured animations like Aladdin and the Lion King are now on screws, especially after Dumbo has become a miserable flop. That is the puzzle that comes next, as I personally see it, the cast was golden, the director is phenomenal and the story is sound, so why did it flop and is that the premise for the other movies? We know that Robin Williams made Aladdin the success it was; this puts a megastar like Will Smith in an awkward position. To willingly step into the shadow of a giant takes monumentally sized balls to begin with and even as we know that Will Smith is no coward, willing to step into the fringe of movie making, I cannot stop being worried on how Aladdin will fare. As such the other Disney productions will be under pressure as well and that is just the beginning.

Disney has had the longest issue with being too sweet for most adults and even as we saw Pretty Woman in 1990 as a new view on what Disney could do, there was a distinct feeling that the Disney people were so far out of their comfort zone that they needed guides to find their way back. This is particularly important as Marvel has its own dark parts (more than just a few) and without that defining dark there is a larger concern down the road. I believe that so far they handled it fine, yet the worry remains: “will the wrong Disney executive demand the Marvel TV version to be lighter, sweeter and less dark“, so far what we have seen from X-Men: Dark Phoenix, The New Mutants imply that we should not be worried, yet waiting with worries for too long is not good either. What I saw from Cloak and Dagger season 1 is a clear warning, yet perhaps it is also important to consider that the movies will be less in danger of becoming laced with Disney Sweetness than the TV series. Their Metascore of 68 could be considered as supporting evidence in all this. Some gave the following views: “a horribly sentimental soundtrack“, as well as “If you want a show chock full of “edgy” liberal issues thrown into the plot regardless of if it fits with the story, then look no further” (which was the most negative review) we see the initial issue. Even the more positive ones give us “Through its initial four episodes, the real star of Cloak & Dagger is the structure and editing and overall environment more than any individual actor“. I believe it that some of the changes took away the dark side that would have made Cloak a lot more appealing, it was his dark side that appealed to me in the original comics; the TV parts I saw were too emotional, I am not stating that this is a bad thing, merely that . The comic books decently graphic about his devouring hunger, I missed seeing that in the few episodes I saw. Yet it is not all bad, Mayhem is showing to be the direct confrontational angry type she was in the comic book.

This is in part my issue; Disney is seemingly trying to skate away from the darkness is what will have a larger non positive impact on series that were pretty phenomenal in comic book form. So far the silver screen Marvel productions have exceeded expectations swimmingly; it is what I saw in Daredevil, Luke Cage, Iron Fist and the defenders that felt off, not bad, but off.

It is not the cast or the work done, no matter what, Mike Colter makes Luke Cage totally believable and real. I believe that the scripts fell short (from my personal point of view). Perhaps it is my non-US view, the fact that there had to be complications and conspiracy plots from day one in these series is why it is falling short. Even as we hear noise like ‘creative differences’, I believe that the entire conspiracy twinkle has ran its course to the largest degree, to be honest, that is why I stopped watching Kiefer Sutherland in Designated Survivor. The series started great and then when we suddenly see an FBI director compromised around episode 6 that was it for me. Oh, and before I forget this is a series that is all about conspiracy, but the way it is done was too far out there, it lost flavour. I believe that Marvel series have been pushed into that field too much as well (as well as several other comic book based series). I believe that the effort to go too deep too fast to please an audience is exactly why appeal is lost to some degree and Luke Cage gets to pay for it (as well as Iron Fist). With over a dozen movies coming in the next 2-3 years as well as optional TV series, this critical look early on will be more essential than most realise. You see, a Marvel overdose is pretty much similar to a Star Trek overdose, at some point we lose the interest to watch it, which is actually opposite to the feelings we had with the comic books and as such we have to consider our point of view. Now, like the comic books there is a filtering, most of us do not care for all the franchises. I was a die-hard Batman and X-men fan and I never got into Spiderman that much. I still loved the movies and I read the comics at times, but it was not my number one, neither were the Fantastic Four. That’s fine because Marvel (and DC) had a flavour for everyone, so much choice, as such we would be more protective of the comics we were nuts about and that is fine too.

Yet there is still Disney to consider and their long term need to make everything too sweet and too ‘pink’. Even as we realise that most cancelations might be linked to IP and the fact that Netflix will be a direct competitor of Disney+, yet the idea that Disney is a little too uncomfortable with these dark tainted series on Disney remains a concern for many fans and as such it is a concern for some fans of these series that they are now part of Disney. The factual reasons are not out there, or perhaps better stated, there is no source I trust to give me the actual truth (except a joint statement from Marvel and Disney and that is unlikely to happen).

Even as Forbes gives us: “Marvel meanwhile plans live-action series for characters including Loki, Scarlet Witch, Winter Soldier, and several other characters“, the die-hard fans will now wonder whether we will get the Asgardian Wars on TV or silver screen, not only as it was an awesome story, but that also puts Asgard, the X-men and the Canadian Alpha Flight team on the range implying the coming of a few more series, or movie franchises. All of them have a large following, so Disney would be nuts to walk away from an optional few billion more. Yet that does require Disney to allow for very dark streaks in their acquired paintings and that is where the problem is likely to rise, or at least that is what I think is likely to happen.

Even as Disney can ignore everything this year, the year that Avengers: Endgame broke every record, the long term view is less of a given, with view n 2020-2023, there will be more issues and other issues to deal with, not all of them revenue driven, but revenue will be the mainstream in any discussion that surrounds whatever ‘creative differences’ we will see make the headlines on all kinds of media channels and to ignore this so early in the year is not a healthy thing to do, especially as most of the upcoming movies will be staged to bring in a billion plus each. As stated, I do not think we need to worry about the movies too much, but the Marvel TV series that will be another matter, they will be the bread and butter of Disney+ and those people like their shows a little too sugary to my taste.

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Removing the floor

OK, I have made predictions in the past and most were close to spot on, some were just a little off, yet I had not ever for the life of me gotten it wrong by half a billion before. In ‘First the Soft‘ at (https://lawlordtobe.com/2019/04/27/first-the-soft/), I made the prediction: “we now see that Avengers: Endgame is heading towards a 700 million opening weekend (globally) is no stretch, it would make it the largest opening weekend in history“. Some claimed I was being too optimistic, perhaps I was at that a little; I now see from several sources that the estimate was off by a lot. The sources mostly re-quote Variety and when we realise that the reality of “According to Variety, ‘Avengers: Endgame’ pulled in $350 million in the US and an incredible $1.2 billion worldwide in its first weekend. This smashes the ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ take by over $500 million“, we can agree that my thoughts on it being the best Marvel movie ever is not even close to the mark. The movie is now listed on 18th position of the best money making movies ever on a global scale, from naught to 18 in one weekend. This now implies that the movie could shoot to 3rd position in a week, optionally replacing Titanic in 2nd place, it is a record that James Cameron held for 21 years, and he also held the number one spot for 10 years which is now in equal danger of getting surpassed by Avengers: Endgame soon thereafter. I believe that will happen, yet the speed at which this could be happening at has never been seen before.

This news is actually more important than you might think. You see Hollywood is nothing if not revenue driven, so there is every chance that my beloved comic books form the 70’s and 80’s will find themselves to the big screen or some Netflix streaming channel. This is both awesome and optionally sad. When the money makers see the amount of money Marvel just grossed, it will make them step into the fairway and claim their own billions. The sad part is that there is every chance that people will concentrate on their dollar shaped pupils and forget that Avengers: Endgame is the result of 11 years and 22 movies, so whatever they do they need to be careful not to squander the option they would acquire.

One of the front runners in this would be the work of Don Lawrence. He became famous with the works of the Trigan Empire as well as Storm. The Trigan Empire has everything to become stellar, it is placed in what would be a ‘Nova Roma’ A roman empire but in the 21st century, so we get decadence, martial impact (for references see the Spartacus series), direct encounters (read: sex, combat and confrontational resolutions) as well as other elements making it highly desirable to the watchful eyes of millions. Getting it right would be an essential part in all this. Remember, that I Claudius failed in the first attempt until it was done right in the 70’s.

In second place there is the Spanish artist Segrelles who gave us ‘El Mercenario‘, a little more fantasy, but most pleasing to the eye in more than one way. It is utterly lacking realism (the dragons are a dead giveaway) but the stories have been intriguing since the beginning and the art has a certain flair that does go with the need for excellent story telling.

I am not giving you a top three. There are so many considerations. There is the Flash Gordon from the 70’s, there is Diabolik, although in this case it seems that Murdoch’s European pay-tv operation are already on that case, so I reckon that if they make that one dark enough, they might have an instant hit. This all has one additional benefit for me, there is every chance that someone will consider reprinting the comics by Angela and Luciana Giussani, a win-win for all. I believe that technology was the greatest push here. Now that special effects can set the stage more closely to what the comic book makers envisioned and gave to their audience, the sky has become the limit and as we see more and more revenue towards streaming, there is every chance that the biggest delays will be finding the actors committing to a series and finding the right actors, manpower will become the largest obstacle for moviemakers in the foreseeable future. I will happily volunteer there, but I know I am no Inspector Ginko (or inspector Gadget for that matter).

Yet we can also look into the other direction, for that we merely need to seek out André Franquin and his office boy Gaston, every company seemingly has one and therefor would bring instant joy, laughter and entertainment on a global scale, all mostly untapped ideas as American Netflix has been too localised in their searches (as well as the method of finding new stuff). Yet with Disney Plus on the horizon and other players like Stan making more and more waves, we might see a bidding war for the IP rights of these works soon enough.

 

 

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First the soft

There is a wave of anticipation, having seen Avengers Endgame on opening night two days ago, we see the anticipation rush through. There will be no spoilers here, but I can give advance warning of the dangerous side shows in the cinema. You see, the final part is a three hour movie and worth watching, yet watching the parents with younger sidekicks watch the movie whilst the parent realising that after two hours the bladder of junior is under pressure is a sight to see. I saw at least two fathers rushing themselves (as well as junior) to the bathroom hooping not to miss too much is a sight to take momentary notice of.

Taking a large/jumbo drink into a three hour movie is a really bad idea!

The second one is sweet. In at least two points in the movie, something huge happens and it is a sight to behold, I was not ready for large crowds to stand up and cheer and clap, it was a little unexpected, the movie gets you that deep into the story, it is an amazing one and we get volley after volley of amazing moments for almost three hours.

So when we now see that Avengers: Endgame is heading towards a 700 million opening weekend (globally) is no stretch, it would make it the largest opening weekend in history. The three most successful movies never pulled that off, so Avatar, Titanic and Star Wars: the force awakens will not be the contenders. The question becomes, can Endgame surpass the opening weekend of Avengers: Infinity War, which had an opening weekend of $630 million. There is however one side that hold endgame back, as a few nations open a week later, and as at present the overseas record has not been surpassed, the end result is not a given, I believe that the movie has what it takes to surpass Infinity War in every way, in the end, it becomes a roll of the dice (to some extent). I believe that this movie has the goods to surpass the amazing results that Avengers: Infinity War brought, I believe to be proven right in the next week. I hope to be able to see the 3D version at that point.

So we end the soft part of the day with a detailed view on Bradley Cooper, who is going to be in the movie and that is not a spoiler at all.

 

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