The best films coming out in 2021

Source: Wired

It should be a big year for cinema, with a host of delayed blockbusters and big sequels hopefully coming to screens

Last year was, let’s be honest, a car crash for the cinema industry. A year that started brightly with 1917 and Parasite was derailed by the pandemic, leaving a host of long-awaited blockbusters scattered in its wake. The new James Bond film was pushed back, and then back again. Marquee titles went straight to streaming.

Even the behemoth that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe wasn’t immune, with Black Widow among the films to be bumped into 2021. What all the chaos does mean, however, is that there is a glut of unreleased movies which could make this year one of the most memorable in cinematic history (particularly if you like sequels and reboots). Release dates are very subject to change.

Nomadland

In the United States, the 2008 financial crash pulled a generation out of what had previously been a comfortable retirement. Suddenly forced to work again, these older Americans travel the country in search of seasonal work – a phenomenon which was described in a 2017 non-fiction book by Jessica Bruder. The film version, a drama based on the book, stars Frances MacDormand (FargoThree Billboards) as Fern, who loses her job after the crash and has to adjust to life on the road.
February 19

Raya and the Last Dragon

Kelly Marie Tran and Awkwafina star in this computer-animated Disney fantasy film inspired by the cultures of south-east Asia. It’s set in the world of Kumandra, where humans and dragons once lived together in harmony until mysterious monsters known as the Druun broke their alliance. Five hundred years later, Raya embarks on a quest to track down the last dragon, and save the world. This one ticks most of the Disney tropes – headstrong princess, cute animal sidekick – but it’s not expected to be a musical like its other hits.
March 12

The Many Saints of Newark

This feature length prequel to The Sopranos is one of the most anticipated releases of the year, and rightly so. The television series, which followed New Jersey mobster Tony Soprano and his inner and outer struggles, is one of the most critically acclaimed shows of all time – with late actor James Gandolfini’s performances a particular highlight. Here, Gandolfini’s son Michael takes over the role of a younger Tony Soprano in a story thought to be set during the Newark riots of the 1960s, and co-written by Sopranos creator David Chase.
March 19

No Time To Die

Daniel Craig’s fifth and final outing as James Bond has been a long time coming. Originally due for release in November 2019, it was pushed back to February and then April 2020, following the departure of original director Danny Boyle due to creative differences. New director Cary Joji Fukunaga took over in 2018, bringing on Phoebe Waller-Bridge to help punch up the script, only to fall foul of the pandemic. The story itself wraps up the Craig-driven reboot of the series, and picks up five years after the events of Spectre, with Bond in peaceful retirement until he is approached by CIA friend Felix Leiter, to help search for a missing scientist.
April 2

A Quiet Place: Part II

The first A Quiet Place – which saw Emily Blunt and John Krasinki as parents trying to survive an attack from creatures that hunt with sound – was a surprise hit. The sequel sees them venturing into the outside world, armed with a new piece of vital knowledge about their foes’ weakness. The cast members of the first film are joined by Cillian Murphy for this sequel, which was originally due for release in March 2020.
April 23

Last Night In Soho

At the time of writing, details are pretty thin on the ground for this psychological horror flick helmed by stylish director Edgar Wright (Shaun of the DeadScott Pilgrim vs the WorldAnt-Man). It follows a young, fashion-mad girl who mysteriously finds herself in the 1960s, and face to face with her idol. It stars Anna Taylor-Joy, who played Beth Harmon in the critically acclaimed chess drama The Queen’s Gambit, as well as Matt Smith (Doctor WhoThe Crown) and the late Diana Rigg (Game of Thrones).
April 23

Black Widow

The latest instalment in the sprawling Marvel Cinematic Universe fills in the origin story for Natasha Romanoff – Black Widow – who appeared as part of the ensemble cast in numerous MCU films but has never been given a standalone movie. Scarlett Johansson reprises her role, possibly for the last time, and is joined by Florence Pugh, David Harbour and Ray Winstone. Set after the events of 2016’s Captain America: Civil War, it follows Romanoff as she’s forced to confront her shady past as a spy and assassin.
May 7

Cruella

Look, if you lapped up the gritty superhero reboots and the live-action Disney remakes, you really have no right to complain about their inevitable endpoint: an origin story for Cruella de Vil, the iconic villain of 101 Dalmatians. Alas, it’s pitched as a comedy, which is a disappointment for anyone eager for a Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker style reimagining of the character, who will be played by Emma Stone, with Emma Thompson among those supporting. That said, it still promises to be pretty dark, if the start of the Wikipedia plot summary is anything to go by: “In 1970s London, young fashion designer Estella de Vil becomes obsessed with dogs’ skins”.
May 28

Ghostbusters: Afterlife

Yes, they already rebooted the Ghostbusters franchise. No, that hasn’t stopped them from revisiting the series yet again to make a sequel to the two original movies. Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray and Ernie Hudson reprise their roles from the original films – the story follows a young family who discover they are linked to the original Ghostbusters when their small town experiences a series of unexplained earthquakes.
June 11

In The Heights

Before Hamilton, there was In The Heights – Lin-Manuel Miranda's breakout musical. The story follows several characters in Washington Heights, an area where many Spanish-speaking communities have made their home. It's been adapted by Crazy Rich Asians director Jon M. Chu.
June 11

Luca

Set in and around the beautiful Italian coast, Luca looks to be another gorgeous visual feast from Pixar. It follows the story of Luca, a young boy working his way through childhood while harbouring a secret: he's part of a family of sea monsters that live off the coast.
June 18

Venom: Let There Be Carnage

One of three films set in Sony’s Spider-Man universe (along with Jared Leto’s Morbius, and possibly the third Tom Holland MCU Spider-Man movie) coming out in 2021, Let There Be Carnage is a sequel to 2018’s Venom, which starred Tom Hardy as Eddie Brock – a journalist who is taken hostage a by an alien symbiote that imbues him with superhuman abilities. Woody Harrelson plays Carnage, a psychotic serial killer who also has an alien symbiote.
June 25

Top Gun: Maverick

The formula for blockbuster success: take a beloved 1980s classic, wheel its stars out of retirement, pair with them some fresh young talent, and hope that you sell enough tickets to kick off a whole new franchise. It worked for Jurassic Park, and now Tom Cruise is back to try and recapture the magic of the original Top Gun. He reprises his role as Maverick, and Val Kilmer is back too as his former rival “Iceman” Kazansky – joined by Jon Hamm, Miles Teller (playing Goose’s son). Based on the trailer, the plot involves Cruise pulling a lot of g in a series of scenic valleys, after being called on to train a group of young pilots on a specialist mission.
July 1

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

Part of Phase Four of the MCU, surely the point at which it starts to run out of steam, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is Marvel’s first film with an Asian lead. Based on a comic book character created in the 1970s, its main character is a skilled martial artist who gets drawn into a shady terrorist organisation known as the Ten Rings. Starring Canadian actor Simu Liu in the title role, alongside Awkwafina and others, it’s been in the works since 2001.
July 9

Uncharted

Video game adaptations are never good, but still… This movie version of the long-running Uncharted franchise sees Spider-Man’s Tom Holland beefing up to play Nathan Drake, a Lara Croft-esque treasure hunter. Mark Wahlberg plays his mentor Victor Sullivan, and Antonio Banderas is also involved – presumably as some sort of eccentric villain.
July 16

Old

A high-concept sci-fi film from master of weirdness M Night Shyamalan, Old – based on the graphic novel Sandcastles by Pierre Oscar Levy – tells the story of a group of tourists who end up trapped in a beautiful, secluded cove only for things to take a strange turn. They soon realise that they’re ageing by years every thirty minutes.
July 23

The Suicide Squad

No one was really asking for a sequel to 2016’s Suicide Squad, an anti-hero movie set in the DC Comics Universe, and starring Margot Robbie and Will Smith, but here it is. Robbie, who reprised her role as Harley Quinn in 2020’s Birds of Prey, returns again here – and is joined by Idris Elba, Sylvester Stallone and the former wrestler John Cena. This probably wouldn’t have made our list, if not for the fact that it’s directed by James Gunn – the Guardians of the Galaxy director who was snapped up by Warner Bros in the gap between being dropped and re-hired by Disney for comments made on social media.
August 6

Candyman

Those of a certain age know the premise of the original Candyman – say the killer’s name five times in the mirror and he appears and wastes you with his hook hand and bee swarm. What they may not remember is that the original was actually a smart film – scary yet thoughtful. This new remake is co-written by Get Out’s Jordan Peele: the Chicago projects the Candyman haunted in the first film have been torn down and replaced by luxurious loft condos, filled with millennials ripe for butchering.
August 27

Dune

Blade Runner 2049 director Denis Villeneuve takes on yet another sci-fi classic with this take on Dune, adapted from Frank Herbert's epic novel of the same name. Timothée Chalamet stars as the young nobleman Paul Atreides, who has to journey to the hostile planet Dune, home to the most valuable material in the galaxy, and seek revenge on his family’s enemies. This sprawling fantasy is a huge project, and if Villeneuve can pull it off it will cement his sci-fi credentials.
October 1

Eternals

Yet another Marvel film – Eternals is about a race of virtually immortal aliens who have been secretly living on Earth for thousands of years, protecting humans from the evil Deviants with their array of special powers. An all-star ensemble cast features Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek and Kit Harrington, and it’s directed by Chloé Zhao – who also directed Nomadland (see above) and two other acclaimed indie films. The film is set after the events of Avengers: Endgame, and does raise the question of why these all-powerful beings didn’t think to intervene sooner.
November 5

The Matrix 4

Very little is known about the new instalment in The Matrix saga – something that its directors the Wachowskis had long been against. Keanu Reeves and Carrie Anne Moss are returning as Neo and Trinity, though, which hints at a degree of continuity to the story of the original trilogy. Lana Wachowski returns to direct.
December 22

By WILL BEDINGFIELD and AMIT KATWALA

Serena Williams’ Stunning New Home With A Trophy Room & Art Gallery

Source: AD

Today AD is welcomed by tennis legend and 23-time Grand Slam singles title winner Serena Williams for a tour of her stunning new home north of Miami. After living with her sister Venus on and off for over 20 years, Serena and husband Alexis Ohanian have made a stylish new home for their family. From the eclectic artwork (including her own painting) to the world-beating trophy room, Serena’s home could only belong to someone as multifaceted and accomplished as her. “I was moving away from Venus for the first time in my life, so I wanted it to be really meaningful,” Serena says. While mixing family with business can be risky, the secret to their success as siblings and creative collaborators is simple: “You have to know your lane. I’m really good at playing tennis; I’m not as good at interiors. But I was able to learn through just watching Venus.”

How Roblox Became A $30 Billion Popular Gaming Platform Company

Source: CNBC

More than half of the children in the United States play video games on Roblox. In fact, the massively popular gaming platform has grown so much during the coronavirus pandemic, the company’s valuation has skyrocketed from $4 billion in early 2020 to $30 billion in early 2021. What makes Roblox so popular? It’s a social gaming platform where users can play a library of games and hang out and chat with their friends. There are games for all ages and tastes — games where you raise a virtual pet, operate a pizzeria with friends or run amok in an open-world take on cops-and-robbers. Here’s a look at Roblox’s business model, why investors are excited about the platform, and the company’s plans to go public in 2021.

NFT digital art by Beeple’s nets $69m at Christie’s auction house

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Fri, 12th March 2021) London, Uk – –

The first digital-only art auction by Christie's auction house has netted $69m (£50m) for the artist Beeple.

The digital art was sold as an NFT – the latest tech craze which has boomed in popularity in recent weeks.

Beeple – real name Mike Winkelmann – creates a new piece of digital art every day, and was selling the first 5,000 days (13 years) of his work.

That success puts Beeple “among the top three most valuable living artists”, Christie's said.

The company said the sale was the first NFT-based work of art sold by a “major” auction house, and set a new world record for digital art.

The collection is a collage of the thousands of individual daily images which Beeple, an American graphic designer, started in early 2007 and has done every day since.

Many of the individual pieces are surreal or unsettling, and he uses a variety of digital modelling and artistic programmes for them.

The auction had attracted a great deal of attention, with bidding ramping up to $10m earlier this week. But on the final day of bidding, it skyrocketed to a final price of $69,346,250.

Christie's told the AFP news agency a record 22 million people watched the final moments of the auction's livestream.

That may in part be down to the current hype surrounding NFTs – or “non-fungible-tokens”. They are a unique identifier of ownership for non-physical objects such as digital art.

Beeple responded to the sale by tweeting a series of expletives.

Critics say the digital tokens have a huge environmental impact, since they are stored on a Blockchain, similar to crypto-currencies including Bitcoin and Ethereum. Others have suggested their current popularity is an investment bubble.

But the unique tokens allow value to be assigned to digital art, and they can be sold and traded in a similar way to physical art being used as an investment.

The current craze surrounding NFTs has seen the musician Grimes sell a collection of her artwork for more than $6m at the beginning of March. The founder of Twitter has also put his first tweet up for sale, with a bid of $2.5m so far.

And in one of the most controversial cases, one group burned a genuine Banksy original before putting its digital token up for sale, for $380,000 (£274,000).

Amateur investors buy stock as ‘failing’ firm soars in value

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Wed, 27th Jan 2021) London, Uk – –

It's a battle between Wall Street pros and upstart investors using social media platforms like Reddit. And at the moment, the upstarts have the upper hand.

At the centre of the tussle is a US video games bricks and mortar retailer called Gamestop, arguably something of a relic in a world moving online.

Shares in the business have skyrocketed, with the price up 92% at the close of play on Tuesday, bringing the gain over the last few trading days to 276%.

It is, says analyst Neil Wilson from markets.com, getting weird: “We are seeing some serious funny business in some corners of the market.”

“Will it end badly?” asks Thomas Hayes, managing director at Great Hill Capital hedge fund. “Sure. We just don't know when.”

What's driving up the Gamestop price? Certainly not any good news coming out of the company. Gamestop – described as a “failing mall-based retailer” by one professional investor – made a loss of $795m in 2019, and probably several hundred more in 2020.

Instead, an army of savvy social media day traders with access to free trading platforms, and who probably have a lot of time on their hands during lockdown, are swapping tips and ramping up prices via Reddit's chat thread wallstreetbets.

Gamestop is not the only stock to get their attention – Blackberry and Nokia Oyjis are others – but is currently the battleground between the Goliaths like hedge funds and big investors, and the Davids who make up Reddit's private punters.

Key to what's going on is “shorting”, where, say, a hedge fund borrows shares in a company from other investors in the belief that the price of stock is going to fall.

The hedge fund sells the shares on the markets at, for example, $10 each, waits until they fall to $5, and buys them back. The borrowed shares are returned to the original owner, and the hedge fund pockets a profit.

That's the somewhat simplistic theory, anyway.

$2bn losses

Gamestop is the most shorted stock on Wall Street, with some 30% of the shares thought to be in the hands of hedge fund borrowers. But Reddit's retail investors have been spurred into buying Gamestop shares and placing options – pushing up the price and putting a “short squeeze” on the pros.

In this supercharged trading environment, the big Wall Street investors rush back into the market to limit their losses – with the demand pushing up the price still further. One hedge fund, Melvin Capital Management, reportedly had to be bailed out with more than $2bn to cover losses on some shares, including Gamestop.

For many Reddit investors, it not just about making money. They smell blood.

Analyst Neil Wilson says that, from reading the Reddit chat threads, the day traders' battle with Wall Street is clearly personal.

“Among the many aspects of this story that are strange, what is so unusual is the peculiar vigilante morality of the traders pumping the stock. They seem hell-bent on taking on Wall Street, they seem to hate hedge funds and threads are peppered with insults about ‘boomer' money.

“It's a generational fight, redistributive and all about robbing the rich to give to the millennial ‘poor'.”

But many big investors are refusing to budge and continue to hold their Gamestop stock at rock bottom prices. They believe the tide will turn on Reddit's herd instinct and Gamestop shares will come back to earth.

“These are not normal times and while the [Reddit] thing is fascinating to watch, I can't help but think that this is unlikely to end well for someone,” Deutsche Bank strategist Jim Reid said.

Tears and headaches

For stock market veterans it's an example of the madness of speculative trading that can only end in tears. And for regulators, it's a headache, as they are the ones who should be cracking down on market manipulation.

Jacob Frenkel, a former lawyer at the Securities and Exchange Commission, the main US financial regulator, said: “Such volatile trading fuelled by opinions where there appears to be little corporate activity to justify the price movement is exactly what SEC investigations are made of.”

However, other experts believe Reddit's legion of investors represent a generational shift in attitudes to money and use of new technology.

“I don't think this is a fad,” said John Patrick, a fund expert at VanEck. “A retail trader will not lean on Wall Street to manage their money and I definitely now see an antagonistic relationship between the old guard [Wall Street] and individual traders who are on the rise,” he said.

By Russell Hotten

Changchun Ice And Snow World 2021

Source: Chun Ming Ng

Changchun Ice and Snow World 2021 (or Changchun Ice and Snow Xintiandi 长春冰雪新天地) debuted with a new image this year. It is the world's biggest ice and snow festival, bigger than the Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival. It covers an area of 1.38 million square meters, and the amount of ice and snow used exceeds 200,000 cubic meters. It is a veritable “Ice Kingdom”. As the first million-square-meter “Ice Kingdom” in the country to light up, Changchun Ice and Snow Xintiandi have built 142 ice and snow buildings.

Neil Young sells half of the rights to his song catalogue to Hipgnosis

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Wed, 6th Jan 2021) London, Uk – –

Publishing house makes third major deal in a week, following acquisition of catalogues by Jimmy Iovine and Fleetwood Mac’s Lindsay Buckingham

Neil Young has sold half of the rights to his song catalogue to Hipgnosis, in the same week the publishing house has acquired catalogues by former Fleetwood Mac guitarist Lindsay Buckingham and super-producer Jimmy Iovine.

The deal comprises Young’s entire song catalogue of 1,180 compositions, with Hipgnosis taking on 50% of the worldwide copyright and income from the catalogue in exchange for an undisclosed cash sum that will certainly run into nine figures.

Hipgnosis Songs Fund was founded in 2018 by Merck Mercuriadis, who has previously managed artists including Elton John, Guns N’ Roses and Beyoncé. In December, after floating the company on the London Stock Exchange in 2018, he announced the company’s market value had reached £1.25bn. In the first six months of 2020, the company generated £50m in revenue, twice the amount for the same period in 2019.

Part of that growing Hipgnosis income is from use of its song catalogue in film and television, as well as advertising. Young is famously resistant to his music being used on adverts, singing in 1988 on This Note’s for You: “Ain’t singing for Pepsi / Ain’t singing for Coke / I don’t sing for nobody / Makes me look like a joke.”

Mercuriadis acknowledged Young’s stance, saying: “We have a common integrity, ethos and passion born out of a belief in music and these important songs. There will never be a ‘Burger of Gold’ but we will work together to make sure everyone gets to hear them on Neil’s terms.”

“Burger of Gold” is a reference to a 1973 Neil Young concert, where he revealed he’d been asked by an unnamed company to use hit song Heart of Gold on an advert, and joked he would have had to rename the song Burger of Gold if he’d agreed.

Mercuriadis said he had been a Young fan since the age of seven when he bought the album Harvest. He referred to his albums as “part of who I am, they’re in many ways responsible for who I’ve become and they’re most certainly in my DNA”.

Earlier this week, Hipgnosis also acquired 100% of Lindsay Buckingham’s 161-song catalogue, including hits he wrote for Fleetwood Mac such as Go Your Own Way, plus 50% of any as-yet unreleased songs. Mercuriadis hailed him as “one of the greatest guitarists, songwriters and producers of all time yet is still so underrated”.

He also acquired the worldwide producer royalties from 259 songs by Jimmy Iovine, who produced artists including Bruce Springsteen, U2 and Patti Smith before founding the Beats Electronics technology firm that was bought out by Apple for $3bn in 2014. Iovine said his work had found “the right home”, and that he would use the proceeds to fund the building of a high school in Los Angeles.

Hipgnosis started out buying the catalogues of star songwriters and producers such as Timbaland, The-Dream, TMS and Rodney Jerkins, before acquiring artist catalogues including Mark Ronson, Barry Manilow, Steve Winwood and Blondie.

Stars selling their catalogues has become a major music industry trend in recent years, including Buckingham’s former bandmate Stevie Nicks, who sold 80% of her song publishing rights to a rival publishing house, Primary Wave, in December.

Later that month came the most eye-catching deal of all: Bob Dylan selling his entire catalogue to Universal Music Group for a sum believed to be over $300m (£225m). Universal called it “the most significant music publishing agreement this century and one of the most important of all time”.

By Ben Beaumont-Thomas

Ladbrokes owner Entain offered $11bn by MGM Resorts

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Mon, 4th Jan 2021) London, Uk – –

US casino giant MGM Resorts has made an $11bn (£8.1bn) offer for British gaming company Entain, which owns Ladbrokes.

The move is the latest attempt by a casino operator to move into the online gambling business.

In addition to its chain of High Street betting shops, UK-based Entain also owns a number of online sports betting and gambling sites.

Entain confirmed the offer, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, but said the price was too low.

It had recently rebuffed an earlier $10bn (£7.3bn) all-cash approach from MGM, the newspaper said.

In a statement, Entain said the latest bid approach “significantly undervalues the company and its prospects”.

MGM Resorts, which runs the Bellagio casino in Las Vegas, now has until the beginning of next month to decide whether to make a formal bid or to walk away.

FTSE 100-listed Entain. which renamed itself from GVC Holdings last month, describes itself as “one of the world's largest sports betting and gaming groups operating in the online and retail sector”.

Along with Ladbrokes, it also owns brands such as Bwin, Partypoker, Coral, Eurobet, Gala and Foxy Bingo.

After news of the latest offer for the firm, investors started betting on Entain, pushing its share price up by more than 25% to £14.30 a share – above MGM's offer of roughly £13.83 a share – a sign that market watchers are expecting a higher bid.

If the two firms do reach an agreement, it would follow another deal in September when MGM rival Caesars Entertainment agreed to buy UK-based William Hill for £3.7bn.

“Following Caesar's offer for William Hill last year, a bid by MGM for Ladbroke's owner Entain isn't exactly a surprise,” said Nicholas Hyett an analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.

“The two are working together to take advantage of the recent legalisation of sports betting in the US, a market worth many billions of dollars a year.”

Analysis: By Dominic O'Connell

Predictions about the stockmarket have a habit of making the person trying to guess the future look foolish. No such problem for Laura Foll, a fund manager at the investment firm Janus Henderson. On the Today programme on Monday, she forecast more takeover offers for household names in Britain, noting that the UK markets remained unloved by investors and so – perhaps – undervalued.

An hour after the prediction a big offer duly landed, with Entain, the London-listed company that owns Ladbrokes and other gambling brands, saying it had received a takeover proposal from MGM Resorts, an American rival.

The US company is offering to pay shareholders in Entain not in cash, but in new MGM shares – an obvious move given the sky-high rating of US shares compared to those listed in London.

It looks a carbon copy of last year's deal where Caesars, best known for its Las Vegas properties, bought another venerable name in British bookmaking, William Hill. Get ready for more acquisitive foreign companies looking for deals in bargain basement London.

Covid headwinds

The new bid for Entain comes with financial backing from MGM's largest shareholder, InterActiveCorp (IAC), which took a 12% stake in MGM Resorts last August.

At the time, IAC's chief executive Barry Diller said it planned to work with MGM to expand its online gambling portfolio.

The attempted acquisition comes as the casino industry faces headwinds from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Bricks-and-mortar casino operators have struggled under travel restrictions.

The economy of Asian casino hub Macau shrank 49% in the first quarter of this year, while unemployment in Las Vegas reached 30% earlier in the year and remains well above the US average.

MGM Resorts, which is the operator of the Bellagio casino in Las Vegas, laid off 18,000 furloughed employees in the US in August.

Many online gambling companies, by contrast, saw a boost during Covid-19 restrictions, prompting many casino owners to pivot their businesses towards online.

How The 75-Foot Rockefeller Christmas Tree Makes It To NYC

Source: Business Insider

This year's iconic Rockefeller Christmas tree was found in someone's yard in Oneonta, NY four years ago. To get the donated, 75-foot-tall tree to Manhattan took a team of dozens of workers, huge cranes, and a 115-foot trailer. While this year's Norway Spruce ended up as full and bright as past years', it had its fair share of viral moments, with an orphaned owl, COVID-19 restrictions, and rumors of tree extensions.

 

 

UK National Lottery age limit for playing will rise to 18 from next year

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Tue, 8th Dec 2020) London, Uk – –

Rise in minimum age part of gambling review aiming to update ‘analogue law in a digital age’

The age limit for playing the National Lottery will rise to 18 from next year, the government has said, on the day ministers launched a review of gambling laws that could result in curbs on advertising and a cap on online casino stakes.

Culture minister Oliver Dowden said the 2005 Gambling Act – written before the arrival of the smartphone – was an “analogue law in a digital age”, as he kicked off a lengthy process that could unwind much of the Blair-era legislation.

The only concrete measure announced by the government was an increase in the age at which people can play the National Lottery, which will rise from 16 to 18 in October 2021. The change reflects concern that the weekly draw’s expansion into areas such as online play could make it a gateway to problem gambling.

But the government also launched a long-awaited review of gambling laws with a 16-week call for evidence.

As the Guardian reported last week, ministers will consider banning the sponsorship of sport by betting firms and limiting online casino stakes, as well as mandating strict affordability checks to ensure that punters do not lose beyond their means.

There could also be a testing regime for new products, meaning some gambling games could be barred from release if they are deemed too dangerous for potential addicts.

Ministers will also consider giving the regulator, the Gambling Commission, new funding and powers to tackle the unregulated parallel market, as well as to impose harsher punishments on legitimate gambling operators that fail to protect vulnerable people.

“Whilst millions gamble responsibly, the Gambling Act is an analogue law in a digital age,” said Dowden. “From an era of having a flutter in a high-street bookmaker, casino, racecourse or seaside pier, the industry has evolved at breakneck speed. This comprehensive review will ensure we are tackling problem gambling in all its forms to protect children and vulnerable people. It will also help those who enjoy placing a bet to do so safely.”

Gambling lobby group the Betting & Gaming Council (BGC) said the review “provides an important opportunity to drive further changes on safer gambling introduced by the industry in the past year”.

The industry has recently taken voluntary steps to demonstrate its commitment to protecting vulnerable gamblers, including a “whistle to whistle” ban on adverts while live matches are broadcast.

Firms agreed the measure with the government review looming, more than a decade after unfettered gambling advertising was permitted by Labour.

Labour MP Carolyn Harris, who chairs a cross-party group examining gambling-related harm, said the review was a “once-in-a-generation opportunity to reform the online gambling industry, which has grown exponentially over the past decade.

“It has evolved from the traditional betting I grew up with to a global corporate entity which extracts vast profit from people in this country. Our regulatory system has not evolved with it and the excesses of the industry are clear for all to see.”

By Rob Davies

How YouTube Became An Internet Video Giant

Source: CNBC

With more than 500 hours of video uploaded every minute and over 1 billion hours watched every day, Google’s YouTube is the world’s second largest search engine. And its meteoric growth hasn’t subsided, over 2 billion users visit the site every month. CNBC takes a look at how the video platform has changed over the past 15 years and if it can stay on top

Ticketmaster fined £1.25m after UK customers payment card details were hacked

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Fri, 13th Nov 2020) London, Uk – –

Ticketmaster has been fined £1.25m for losing more than a million British customers' payment card details in a data breach in 2018.

At the time the company admitted personal information and card details belonging to 40,000 customers were stolen by hackers, but the true impact has been revealed to be much higher by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO).

According to the ICO, the data breach – which included names, payment card numbers, expiry dates and CVV numbers – potentially affected 9.4m of the company's customers, including 1.5m in the UK.

The data watchdog's investigators found that 60,000 payments cards belonging to Barclays Bank customers were subjected to known fraud as a result of the breach, with another 6,000 replaced by Monzo Bank following suspected fraudulent use.

Ticketmaster failed to “assess the risks of using a chat-bot on its payment page, identify and implement appropriate security measures to negate the risks. [and] identify the source of suggested fraudulent activity in a timely manner” according to the ICO.

It took Ticketmaster nine weeks to identify the breach after the first reports of fraud, which came from Monzo Bank customers in February 2018.

Other card providers, including the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Barclaycard, Mastercard and American Express all reported suggestions of fraud to Ticketmaster – but the company failed to identify the problem, said the ICO.

More than two months after the first report the company began monitoring the network traffic through its online payment page to discover that hackers were siphoning off customer details due to a vulnerability in the chat-bot system it was using.

The watchdog's deputy commissioner James Dipple-Johnstone said: “When customers handed over their personal details, they expected Ticketmaster to look after them. But they did not.

“Ticketmaster should have done more to reduce the risk of a cyber-attack. It's failure to do so meant that millions of people in the UK and Europe were exposed to potential fraud.

“The £1.25m fine we've issued today will send a message to other organisations that looking after their customers' personal details safely should be at the top of their agenda.”

Ticketmaster said it intends to appeal against the fine.

Model railway maker Hornby sales surge by 33% in lockdown

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Fri, 30th Oct 2020) London, Uk – –

Model railway maker Hornby has seen its sales surge by 33% in the six months to the end of September, as more people took up hobbies in lockdown.

The firm, which also makes Corgi cars and Scalextric racing kits, said it had benefitted from families spending more time at home.

Not along ago, Hornby was “a company in chaos”, losing up to £10m a year, according to boss Lyndon Davies.

He hailed the firm's return to profit in a “time of adversity”.

“We have observed hitherto successful and profitable companies worldwide crumbling under the pressure [of the pandemic], with losses, closures and tumbling share values.

“Yet we have not only weathered this shattering storm, our sales have increased by 33% in the first half of 2020, moving Hornby back into profitability.”

Parts of the Hornby business that performed strongly over the past six months included Airfix, its model aeroplane brand, and Humbrol, which makes specialist paints for modelling.

Mr Davies said the company had seen a big jump in online sales, as customers sought comfort from uncertainty in products “they know and love”.

He said boredom was another driver: “People want to do things, they don't want to sit there watching the TV for the day.”

He said the firm entered the year with “no idea” how the business would be impacted by the pandemic.

All of the firm's offices had to close at various points, and it lost several weeks of shipments due to supply chain issues.

Despite this, sales climbed to £21.1m in the period from £15.9m last year. That's given Hornby a net profit of £200,000, turning around a £2.5m loss in 2019.

Shares in the firm surged almost 30% on the back of the strong results.

Wider ranges

Lockdown isn't the only reason behind Hornby's changing fortunes. After a complete restructuring of the management team in 2017, the company widened its range, introducing train sets tied to well-known brands such as Harry Potter and Paddington Bear.

Back to the Future-themed cars have been “the biggest selling Scalextric cars for 10 years”, Mr Davies added.

The firm has also embraced new technologies. A century after its first clockwork locomotive was introduced in 1920, the company's model trains and racing cars can now be controlled by mobile phone apps using bluetooth.

“These brands have been misunderstood for the past 5-10 years, but in the last year we've brought them alive again,” Mr Davies said.

Toymakers expecting strong global sales during Christmas despite coronavirus

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Mon, 26th Oct 2020) London, Uk – –

Toymakers are expecting strong global sales during the critical end-of-year festive season, after a surge of pandemic-fuelled demand for items such as Barbies and board games.

Hasbro, maker of Monopoly and Jenga, told investors on Monday it was poised for a “good holiday season”.

The forecast followed rival Mattel's report last week of its biggest sales jump in a decade.

The firm's Barbie dolls hit their highest quarterly sales since 2003.

The gains have come as families buy toys and games in an attempt to fend off boredom amid the pandemic lockdowns.

“The toy industry as a whole grew meaningfully and continues to demonstrate its resilience in challenging economic times,” said Mattel chief executive Ynon Kreiz.

In the first nine months of the year, Hasbro sales grew 13% from 2019 – bucking the wider plunge in consumer spending around the world.

At Mattel, sales are down 2% from 2019 – but some brands, such as Barbie, are having their strongest run in years.

The firm said gross sales of the doll grew 15% year-on-year in the first nine months of 2020. In the most recent quarter, they rose 29% to more than $532m.

Mattel told investors last week it was predicting holiday season sales growth of roughly 5% from last year – greater than many wider forecasts of festive season spending.

However, analysts have warned that the pandemic may throw some surprises at toymakers in the upcoming months, as family budgets increasingly feel strains and concerns about coronavirus infection change holiday shopping dynamics.

“Not only am I concerned that paycheque spending may be limited, but I'm concerned that we will not see that last minute rush into the stores due to fears of Covid-19,” Juli Lennett, vice president at market research firm NPD Group, wrote recently.

But she said toymakers might still manage to see some gains.

“As we've seen in previous economically challenged times, parents will sometimes forego their own needs to make their children happy. In this crazy, stressful year, parents might just go overboard and splurge on their kids -if they have money,” she said.

Viagogo’s $4bn takeover of StubHub provisionally blocked by competition watchdog

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Thur, 22nd Oct 2020) London, Uk – –

Regulator says deal between controversial ticket resale firms would harm consumers

The UK element of the takeover of ticket resale website StubHub by its rival Viagogo has been provisionally blocked by the competition watchdog, throwing the future of the controversial $4bn tie-up into doubt.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said Viagogo, which pressed ahead with the deal despite a warning from the watchdog, must now address its concerns, potentially by selling all or part of StubHub.

Stuart McIntosh, the chair of the CMA inquiry group, said: “The evidence we’ve seen so far consistently points in the same direction – that Viagogo and StubHub have a market share of more than 90% combined and compete closely with each other.

“We are therefore concerned that their merger could lead to secondary ticketing customers facing higher fees and lower quality services. We’re now inviting comments on our provisional findings and possible remedies.”

The takeover has already been described as the “worst deal in history” after it was completed shortly before the pandemic shut down the vast majority of live events around the world.

The CMA is understood to have received submissions from music industry groups concerned about the power the combined company would wield.

Both firms have drawn fire from musicians such as Ed Sheeran, as well as from MPs, for repeatedly misleading consumers and exploiting alliances with powerful ticket touts to profit from fans’ devotion to their idols.

By Rob Davies

Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak warned 90,000 exhibition jobs will go when furlough ends

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Fri, 2nd Oct 2020) London, Uk – –

 A letter to Boris Johnson argues the sector has been abandoned to its fate as COVID-19 forces venues to remain shut.

The coronavirus-ravaged exhibitions industry has warned that 80% of its total workforce may be lost within weeks as the clock ticks down to the furlough scheme's closure at the end of the month.

An open letter to Boris Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak, signed by more than 330 employers and also the Labour Party, pleads for targeted financial support to prevent the prospect of 90,000 job losses.

The Events Industry Alliance (EIA) argued there was an “existential threat” to the sector, which employs 600,000 people, given that it is among only a handful of industries still forced to remain shut because of government restrictions to tackle COVID-19.

The letter, sent on behalf of companies across the wider events sector including The O2, pointed out that the replacement for the Job Retention Scheme, the Job Support Scheme, would only help people who are back at work when it gets under way in November.

“The EIA anticipates that 80% of the exhibitions sector workforce (consisting of events suppliers, organisers and venues), over 90,000 people, will be made redundant… due to continued event closures and the inability of their employers to access the new Job Support Scheme as they are not able to trade at all during the time and therefore will have no income to pay employees,” the letter said.

“Targeted government support is urgently needed for the industry to survive.

“We therefore propose that the government develops an ‘Events Industry Hibernation Support Package'.”

Among the time-limited measures it requested were an adapted wage subsidy scheme and enhanced access to grants and loans.

The chancellor said his Winter Economic Plan could only support “viable” jobs, essentially ruling that there was no bottomless pit of cash to prevent a surge in unemployment.

The EIA argued that the events industry was worth £70bn annually to the UK economy.

The letter continued: “We are not an unviable sector and simply require support to survive until the time is right to resume events, at which point we can return to our role of driving growth in the wider economy.”

There is anger among businesses over the viability threshold demanded by the Job Support Scheme.

David Cox, chairman of Newbury-based Design Construct & Exhibitions, told Sky News the business had been effectively closed down by the government on 23 March and it deserved support until its restrictions are lifted.

“We have, like many other companies, had the benefit of the furlough scheme, however this does not help with set overheads and financial commitments that we all have to contend with.

“We have had no real income since that day and since September we have had to contribute to all our staff wages without getting anything in return.”

He added: “I would also like to point out that we have, and I am sure most of our event colleagues have, paid corporation tax every year so I find it unacceptable to be labelled as not viable.”

By James Sillars

Pinewood studio blockbuster visitor attraction set to create 3,500 jobs

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Thur, 17th Sept 2020) London, Uk – –

The company said the strategy comes at a time when the need for investment in economic recovery has never been higher.

Film studio Pinewood has announced a £450m expansion, including a blockbuster visitor attraction, which it says could create around 3,500 new jobs.

The announcement, details of which were first reported by Sky News, “comes at a time when the need for investment in economic recovery has never been higher”, the company said.

Pinewood, which has played host to many instalments of the James Bond and Star Wars franchises, will open Screen Hub UK on a 77-acre site next to the existing studio.

It will include a 350,000 sq ft “film-inspired international visitor attraction” called Pinewood Studio Experience.

Pinewood group chairman Paul Golding said: “We have been looking at a visitor experience for some time and feel that now is the right moment to bring it forward.

“The project will strengthen UK film and bring much needed jobs and spending.”

Pinewood said it would start consultation on its planning application for the scheme next week.

Its new visitor attraction is likely to feature many of the most famous films made at the site during its 84-year history.

Among those at least partly shot at Pinewood during the last year have been Rocketman, Mary Poppins Returns, 1917, Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker and the 25th James Bond film, No Time To Die, which is due to be Daniel Craig's final outing as 007.

The latest instalment of the Jurassic World series is currently filming at the Buckinghamshire studio.

Pinewood's plans will deliver a huge shot in the arm to a film industry which, like many others, has been disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Filming across the television and movie sectors has been postponed or cancelled during the last six months, resulting in substantial delays to film releases and in turn dealing a heavy blow to the finances of cinema chains around the world.

Other big investments in UK film production capacity include a state-of-the-art film and TV studio being developed by Sky, the immediate owner of Sky News, at Elstree.

UK Broadcaster ITV set to be expelled from the FTSE 100 after its shares dropped

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Mon, 31st Aug 2020) London, UK —

LONDON (Reuters) – British broadcaster ITV (ITV.L) is set to be expelled from the FTSE 100 .FTSE blue-chip index after its shares have fallen by about 60% this year, hit hard by an advertising slump triggered by the coronavirus crisis.

Index manager FTSE Russell placed ITV on its “indicative FTSE 100 deletions” list on Aug. 26 and said it would make a final announcement on Wednesday, based on the data collected at Tuesday’s close.

ITV's market capitalisation, by far the weakest in the benchmark index, amounts to 2.4 billion pounds ($3.19 billion) and is smaller than those of dozens of companies in the mid-cap FTSE 250 index .FTMC.

Given the huge valuation gap between ITV and its FTSE 100 peers, there is little doubt the broadcaster will be demoted to the FTSE 250.

Retailer B&M European Value Retail (BMEB.L), worth 4.7 billion pounds on the London stock market, was indicated as the only likely entrant to the FTSE 100 by FTSE Russell.

ITV, the UK’s biggest free-to-air commercial broadcaster, this month reported a 43% decline in advertising revenue in the second quarter. That fuelled a 17% decline in external revenue in the first six months of the year.

Advertising revenue in July was down 23%. While that represented an improvement from the 42% drop in June, the outlook remains uncertain, ITV said.

The broadcaster, the studios unit of which produces popular dramas such as “Coronation Street” and “Emmerdale”, did not provide financial guidance for the year.

“The COVID-19 pandemic limits the company’s ability to create and show new content and thus attract advertising, although the longer-term trend of competition from streaming services and rival broadcast technologies is a huge factor as well”, Russ Mould, an analyst at broker AJ Bell, said in a note last week.

Shares in ITV were not trading on Monday because of a UK public holiday but closed at 60.72 pence on Friday.

Reporting by Julien Ponthus

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Chadwick Boseman “Don’t GIVE UP on Your DREAMS!” – Top 10 Rules for Success

Source: Evan Carmichael

Grab a snack and chew on today's lessons from a man who went from writing a play in high school after a classmate was shot and killed to playing Jackie Robinson in movie 42 and being the Black Panther. He's Chadwick Boseman and here's my take on his Top 10 Rules for Success!

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How The Super Rich Do Horse Racing On Another Level

Source: CNBC

The super rich do everything differently – especially when it comes to horse racing. The Breeders’ Cup is “the richest two days in sports,” with $27 million in prize money up for grabs!

About Secret Lives of the Super Rich: The series unlocks the mansion gates and lifts the velvet ropes to score your exclusive VIP access to a world inhabited by the wealthiest people on the planet. Secret Lives of the Super Rich… you can't afford to miss it!