Category: Pop Culture
Deadline Hollywood is reporting Mickey Mouse is the latest victim of the Coronavirus pandemic:
Walt Disney will closed its California theme parks Thursday after the state of California mandated banning large gatherings and coronavirus fears sweep the nation.
“While there have been no reported cases of Covid-19 at Disneyland Resort, after carefully reviewing the guidelines of the Governor of California’s executive order, and in the best interested of our guests and employees, we are proceeding with the closure of Disneyland Park ad Disney California Adventure, beginning the morning of March 14 through the end of the month.”
Hotels will stay open through March 16 to give guests time to make travel arrangements. Downtown Disney will remain open.
Disney will pay cast member during this time.
Governor Gavin Newsom, citing California public health officials, said Wednesday night that gatherings of more than 250 people should be postponed or canceled across the state until at least the end of March.
“Each of us has extraordinary power to slow the spread of this disease,” Newsom said. “”Not holding that concert or community event can have cascading effects — saving dozens of lives and preserving critical healthcare resources that your family may need a month from now. The people in our lives who are most at risk — seniors and those with underlying health conditions — are depending on all of us to make the right choice.”
Smaller events must be limited to no more than 250 people and can only take place if organizers can implement social distancing of six feet. Gatherings of people who are at higher health risk should be limited to no more than 10 people and also follow the social-distancing guidelines, the statement said.
The original report appeared here.
News is making the round as Disney CEO Bob Iger steps down. Here is what the Associated Press is reporting:
NEW YORK (AP) — Disney CEO Bob Iger, who steered the company through successful purchases of Star Wars, Marvel and Fox’s entertainment businesses and the launch of a Netflix challenger, is stepping down immediately, the company said in a surprise announcement Tuesday.
The Walt Disney Co. named as his replacement Bob Chapek, most recently chairman of Disney’s parks, experiences and products business.
Iger will remain executive chairman through the end of his contract Dec. 31, 2021.
“I will continue to conduct the company’s creative endeavors while also leading the board,” Iger said on a conference call with reporters and analysts.
His most recent coup was orchestrating a $71 billion acquisition of Fox’s entertainment assets and launching the Disney Plus streaming service in November. That service gained nearly 29 million paid subscribers in less than three months.
Iger said he wanted to focus on the creative side of the business after getting those assets and strategies in place. He said he could not do that while running Disney on a day-to-day basis.
“It was not accelerated for any partiucalr reason other than I felt the need was now to make this change,” he said.
“Did not see this coming — Wowza,” tweeted LightShed media analyst Rich Greenfield.
Iger became chief executive of Disney in 2005 after a shareholder revolt by Roy E. Disney led to the ouster of longtime chief Michael Eisner. Iger steered Disney through successful acquisitions of Lucasfilms, Marvel, Pixar and other brands that became big moneymakers for Disney.
Iger, a former weatherman, joined broadcaster ABC in 1974, 22 years before Disney bought the network.
At ABC, Iger developed such successful programs as “Home Improvement,” “The Drew Carey Show,” and “America’s Funniest Home Videos” and was instrumental in launching the quiz show “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.” He was also criticized for cancelling well-regarded but expensive shows such as “Twin Peaks,” “China Beach,” and “thirtysomething.”
Iger, 69, was the second-highest paid CEO in 2018, as calculated by The Associated Press and Equilar, an executive data firm. He earned $65.6 million. The top earner was Discovery’s David Zaslav who earned $129.5 million.
Susan Arnold, the independent lead director of the Disney board said succession planning had been ongoing for several years.
Chapek, 60, is only the seventh CEO in Disney history. Chapek was head of the parks, experiences and products division since it was created in 2018. He was previously head of parks and resorts and before that president of consumer products.
The original story can be found here.
Things do not look great for Funko. The pop culture company released its preliminary results for the holiday quarter Wednesday, revealing substantial sales declines, a writedown of inventory overstock, and a surprising loss for the quarter. The news comes after a big sales jump in Q3 produced less-than-expected profits.
Funko’s worldwide sales declined 8% to $214 million, down from $233 million in the year ago period, and way below the $264 million expected by analysts. The company said its sales were below expectations in “mature markets,” which included the U.S., Canada, and Australia, because of a “challenging retail environment.” Funko said its sales to its top customers were down, and that sales related to “certain tentpole movie releases” were soft.
One of those “top customers” was likely GameStop, which has been Funko’s #1 customer; the troubled chain reported that its holiday sales were down 27.5%.
When sales on collectibles go down, inventory quickly becomes devalued, and that clearly happened to Funko over the holidays; it took a $16.8 million writedown on overstocked inventory in the quarter.
And when sales are down and inventory declines in value, losses follow. Funko is expecting that its final numbers for the quarter will show a los of $6.0 to $6.7 million.
The tough times are apparently not over for the company, which predicted soft sales through the first half of 2020, and sales growth in the high single digits to low double digits for the year, which would be a substantial slowdown.
In further bad news for brick and mortar retailers, Funko said that it expects to find growth in direct-to-consumer channels and e-commerce.
Full results for the quarter and year will be released in March. The share price declined over 35% in after hours trading.
Cards Against Humanity, the company that created the hit card game, has acquired the humor site ClickHole from G/O Media, according to Buzzfeed. The site, founded by The Onion, features parody content like this article from today’s home page: “Heartbreaking: The Jim Henson Company Has Revealed that Jim Henson Was Only Dead for 10 Minutes Before Kermit the Frog Started Eating Him.” The sense of humor is not dissimilar from that in the card game, so from that point of view the acquisition is a good fit.
Plans for the acquisition were first reported by The Wall Street Journal, which pegged the acquisition price at “less than $1 million.”
The acquisition continues what appears to be diversification efforts by the game company, which is opening a board game café in Chicago
Fox Business is reporting the following news:
Video games are making their way into the hospitality business.
On Monday, Atari announced it has plans to open video game-themed hotels in eight cities across the U.S., including Phoenix, Las Vegas, Denver, Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco, Austin, Texas, and San Jose, Calif.
The Phoenix location is set to be the first location to break ground later this year, according to a press release.
Atari partnered with GSD Group to build the hotels.
The hotels will have fully immersive experiences for every age and gaming ability including the latest virtual and augmented reality, according to the company.
Some of the locations will also have venues for esports events, according to the release.
“When creating this brand-new hotel concept, we knew that Atari would be the perfect way to give guests the ‘nostalgic and retro meets modern’ look and feel we were going for,” producer Napoleon Smith III said in a statement. “Let’s face it, how cool will it be to stay inside an Atari?!”
“Together we’ll build a space that will be much more than just a place to stay,” Atari CEO Fred Chesnais said in a statement. “Atari is an iconic global brand that resonates with people of all ages, countries, cultures and ethnic backgrounds and we cannot wait for our fans and their families to enjoy this new hotel concept.”
The original story appeared here!
Yahoo! Finance via TechCrunch is reporting this latest Fortnite development:
Fortnite, one of the world’s most popular games, will now be an official high school sport and college sport, thanks to an LA-based startup called PlayVS.
PlayVS launched in April of 2018 with a mission of bringing esports to high school, with a league akin to traditional sports like basketball or football. Through a partnership with the NFHS, high schools (or parents, or the students themselves) can pay $64/player to be placed in a league to compete with neighboring schools, just like any other sport.
But PlayVS partnerships go deeper than the NFHS (the NCAA of high school sports), as the company is also partnering with the publishers themselves. This is the part that puts PlayVS a step ahead of its competition, according to founder Delane Parnell .
While other companies are setting up paid competitive leagues around video games, very few if any have partnerships at the publisher level. This means that those startups could be shut down on a whim by the publishers themselves, which own the IP of the game.
PlayVS is the first to score such a partnership with Epic Games, the maker of the world’s most popular video game.
These publisher partnerships also allow PlayVS to productize the experience in a way that requires almost no lift for schools and organizations. Players simply sign into PlayVS and get dropped into their scheduled match. At the end, PlayVS pulls stats and insights directly from the match, which can be made available to the players, coaches, fans and even recruiters.
For PlayVS, the college landscape presents a new challenge. With high school expansion, the NFHS fueled fast and expansive growth. Since launch, more than 13,000 high schools have joined the waitlist to get a varsity esports team through PlayVS, which represents 68% of the country. PlayVS says that just over 14,000 high schools in the United States have a football program, to give you a comparison.
The NFHS has a relationship with the NCAA, but no such official partnership has been signed, meaning that PlayVS has to go directly to individual colleges to pitch their technology. Luckily, they’re going in armed with the most popular game in the world, and at a time when many colleges are looking to incorporate esports scholarships and programs.
And it doesn’t hurt that PlayVS has quite a bit of cash in the bank — the company has raised $96 million since launch.
Unlike the rest of the PlayVS titles, the first season of Fortnite competition will be free to registered users, courtesy of the partnership with Epic Games. Registration for the first seasons closes on February 17 for high schools, and February 24 for colleges and universities. The season officially kicks off on March 2.
The format for competition will be Duos, and organizations can submit as many teams of two as they like. The top teams will be invited to the playoffs with a chance to win a spot in the championship in May.
Sportswear giant Adidas and one of the biggest manga franchise, Pokémon are teaming up to launch a line of retro-inspired sportswear for both kids and adults!
Adidas new Pokémon line features shirts, shoes, and training gear in 8-bit graphics renditions bringing back nostolgia for the Game Boy days. Standing in the spotlight is the children’s shoes with colorful soles, patterned lining, a retro Pokémon x Adidas logo on the heel, and red and blue eyelets:
Adults will also have access to the footwear albeit with slightly more understated designs:
Shirts and sweats are also available with variants on the collab design, as well as 8-bit-styled Pokéballs:
The new sportswear are already selling in Japan. The items will also be available in select US stores. No word yet if there will be an EU launch.
On November 2, 2019 original artwork illustrated by Kevin Eastman depicting the TMNT character Shredder was launched into space to reside on the International Space Station, thanks to Mountain View California aerospace company, Made In Space.
The Braskem Recycler is designed to turn plastic waste and 3D printed objects into the type of feedstock that serves as the raw material for the Made in Space Additive Manufacturing Facility, already on the space station. A shredder is one of the features of this facility and now a Kevin Eastman space flight approved, sharpie-on-metal illustration of The Shredder has been attached to the structure of these devices.
Two of the illustrations will remain on the International Space Station and one will be returned to Kevin next year.
A video detailing the equipment, launch and implementation can be viewed here.
Kevin was first approached by Michael Snyder, Made in Space chief engineer in early 2018. Snyder, who described himself as a huge fan of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, wrote that from the start of development of this system he had been referring to the equipment subsystem as the Oroku Saki. Saki who is better known to fans globally as The Shredder, is the primary antagonist of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
“First and foremost, I could not be prouder of the Made in Space Team, their creativity and ingenuity are truly inspiring to us all,” said Eastman. “To have one of my co-creations a small part of this project is an honour that leaves me humbled in every way.”
St. Martin’s Press will release A Marvelous Life: The Amazing Story of Stan Lee, a comprehensive biography by Danny Fingeroth, on November 5. Fingeroth was a writer and editor at Marvel Comics who worked with Stan Lee for over four decades, and now as a comics historian, he has integrated his perspective as a comics insider into the book.
Fingeroth’s biography of Stan Lee attempts to answer several questions about the controversial aspects of his career, such as whether he was the greatest innovator in comics history or simply lucky to have Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko as creative partners The work takes an in-depth look at the good, the bad, and the ugly parts of Lee’s career, from the origins of “Stan the Man” to his many cameos in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
A Marvelous Life: The Amazing Story of Stan Lee features exclusive interviews with Lee, his colleagues, relatives, and friends, and information drawn from Fingeroth’s unique access to Lee’s personal archives at the University of Wyoming. This 400-page biography comes in hardcover and will retail for €29.99.
An academic biography of Lee was released in 2017, before his death, by cultural historian Bob Batchelor
Wizards of the Coast’s Magic: The Gathering and Dungeons & Dragons were two bright spots in Hasbro’s Q3, an otherwise tough quarter with sales and earnings both hit by actual and threatened tariffs on goods from China, the company reported today. Hasbro Gaming, which does not include franchise brands Monopoly and Magic: The Gathering, was down 17% year over year, with some “off-the-board” game brands, such as Bop It!, falling subject to the List 3 25% tariffs enacted during the period. Total gaming sales, including Magic and Monopoly, were roughly flat, a big change from the 26% growth in Q2.
Sales were roughly flat overall, at $1.6 billion for the quarter, with U.S./Canada revenues down 2% and entertainment, licensing, and digital revenues up 20%.
Sales were impacted even on products on which tariffs were delayed until December 15 (such as board games), because large retailers canceled direct import orders, on which they take possession in Asia, in favor of letting Hasbro import the products themselves, dealing with any tariff issues, and buying from Hasbro domestically. The change in how retailers order was due to the threat of tariffs during the quarter. Hasbro was unable to get product through its own supply chain fast enough to keep the sales in Q3. And not all of the canceled orders are likely to be replaced by domestic orders, company CEO Brian Goldner said in the company’s conference call.
Goldner described the situation as “a very choppy environment where retailer order patterns have changed in response to potential tariffs, and our supply chain is being pushed to meet high levels of demand in condensed periods of time.”
Profits for the quarter were down 19% from a year ago (which was negatively impacted by the Toys ‘R’ Us bankruptcy). The sales hit wasn’t the only way tariffs hit profits; costs were also up as Hasbro scrambled to get inventory to the U.S. and to its customers to replace canceled direct import orders, using air freight at times.
The company warned several times during its conference call that Magic: The Gathering would have a tough comparison to the previous year during Q4, due to a product release moving earlier in the year relative to the 2018 release pattern.
Other Wizards of the Coast news from the conference call included the revelation that the company has “close to a dozen [digital] games in development for delivery over the next five to six years;” the acknowledgment that that “only a small percentage” of sales on Magic: The Gathering and Dungeons & Dragons is captured by NPD data (that’s the percentage that goes through chains or online retailers such as Amazon); and the belief at Hasbro that WotC sales can be doubled over the next five years, “…as we’ve accomplished over the past five years.”
Shareholders didn’t like the quarterly report, pushing the share price down over 16% in trading Tuesday.