Split between studios & movie theaters intensifies - Axios
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Split between studios & movie theaters intensifies

Warner Bros. and Universal Pictures are negotiating a deal with Apple and Comcast to offer audiences digital versions of movies two weeks after their theatre releases, Bloomberg reports. The theater chain and studio businesses have been unable to reach a deal that would let studios distribute more expensive ($30+) digital movies to viewers at home shortly after their release in theaters.

Data: PricewaterhouseCoopers; Chart: Lazaro Gamio / Axios

Why it matters: Studios were hoping to work with the theaters chains on a revenue deal, but now seem to be charging ahead without their blessing, despite the fact that theaters still hold power distributing movies and driving revenue. Noticeably missing from the reported negotiations is Disney, which announced it would build its own entertainment streaming package in 2019.

Bottom line: The movie business is changing quickly and its becoming more reliant on digital distribution than ever (shocking). Cinema revenues are rising, but are being outpaced by digital video rentals and the DVD business is dying, as expected. "Theaters have to focus on providing an experience that goes well beyond what's available at home — hence all the focus on luxury seating, 4DX, live event programming, VR, and better food and beverage options," says Chris Vollmer, Global Advisory Leader, Entertainment and Media at PwC.

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Finance pros want in on the cryptocurrency boom

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser / Axios

Bitcoin and Ethereum are no longer just for libertarian geeks and their Reddit pals. That became clear last week when a day-long conference about cryptocurrency hedge funds in San Francisco was filled with suits instead of t-shirts and hoodies. Cryptocurrency is the next "it" thing in trading, and the professionals know it. (Except for Jamie Dimon.)

Why it matters: Regulators around the world are grappling with the rise of cryptocurrencies and, more recently, initial coin offerings. This will become increasingly important as more financial professionals want to make a business out of it.

Key quote: "In this space I think we will soon see one person generate $1 billion of value." — Ethereum co-creator Vitalik Buterin

Hot conference topics:

Security: "I don't think it's realistic to assume that no one at the fund can steal the money," said Ari Paul, BlockTower Capital managing partner. "Security at the moment is about not losing LP funds."

Regulation: "The IRS is really not gonna understand the technology," said Arthur Bell tax advisor Cynthia Pederson, adding that fund managers have to make sure they clearly explain everything to the agency.

Risk management: Common questions from fund investors involve exchange hacks and shutdowns, said some fund managers. Security vulnerabilities in the protocols (or cryptocurrencies) themselves also add risk.

Definitions: Though the Commodity Futures Trading Commission declared cryptocurrencies to be commodities in 2015, some experts think regulators will have to take a more nuanced view as new tech emerges.

ICOs: With some groups now raising hundreds of millions of dollars through initial coin offerings, they'll need to hire people to manage the funds. Unlike traditional startups that usually have an established business by the time they raise such amounts, these issuers rarely have more than a team of developers and an white paper.

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Estimate: Cassidy-Graham will cause 32 million to lose insurance after 10 years

The Cassidy-Graham bill would cause millions to lose insurance, a new estimate says. Photo: J. Scott Applewhite/AP

An estimate released today by the Brookings Institution found the Cassidy-Graham health care plan would cause 32 million people to lose health coverage in 2027 and beyond compared to current law. Over the next two years, 15 million would lose coverage. Then, from 2020-2027, 21 million would lose coverage, which Brookings said is a conservative estimate.

Why this matters: This could give Senate GOP holdouts yet another reason to oppose the bill. Brookings is a liberal think tank, but it has been pretty close to the mark in predicting other Congressional Budget Office estimates. (We won't get an official CBO estimate of coverage losses for Graham-Cassidy because there's not enough time.) Just as importantly, it reiterates the fact that we really don't know how states would react.

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Trump vs. Tillerson on "the Russia hoax"

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser / Axios

President Trump today: "The Russia hoax continues, now it's ads on Facebook. What about the totally biased and dishonest Media coverage in favor of Crooked Hillary?"
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson last week: "And when countries like Russia threaten their democratic neighbors by attacking the very foundation of our democracies, by meddling in our free and fair elections, we stand with our democratic partners. We call for greater vigilance and we work together to safeguard our democracies from interference in the future."
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Tom Price's private jet use cost taxpayers more than $300,000

Tom Price listens to Vice President Mike Pence speak during a meeting on healthcare reform. Photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price has taken "a sharp departure" from his most recent predecessors in private charter plane use, taking at least 24 taxpayer-funded flights totaling over $300,000, according to Politico.

HHS spokesperson Charmain Yoest said: "The Secretary has taken commercial flights for official business...He has used charter aircraft for official business in order to accommodate his demanding schedule. The week of September 13 was one of those times."

But, Politico found at least 17 flights before that week "that did not appear to be for urgent HHS public health priorities."

Why it matters: The flights are funded by taxpayer dollars. And, while Senate Republicans and President Trump are "frantically rallying support to pass an Obamacare repeal bill," a White House official says Price is "nowhere to be found," and many of these trips "aren't related to priorities like Obamacare repeal."

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Google searches for mental health issues spike in March

Google searches for mental health terms related to depression, major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder and anxiety disorder peak in the late winter and dip during the summer, according to a recent study by Google News Lab and Gabriel Gianordoli. This is in line with a Google study in 2013, which also found that mental illness searches followed seasonal trends.

Data: Google News Lab; Chart: Chris Canipe / Axios

Yes, but: The search trends seem to line up with seasonal depression, but Allen Frances, a psychiatrist and professor emeritus at Duke University, told Axios that the study results "don't by themselves explain the phenomenon they're describing." He points out there could be several external factors that would contribute to the peaks and valleys of mental health related Google searches, including drug advertisements.

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New parenting trend: texting kids from inside the house

A mother and daughter prefer to text each other inside the home. Photo: Charles Rex Arbogast / AP

"Some parents, spouses, teenagers ... are finding that texting [each other inside the same house] can sometimes actually make a household run more smoothly," according to a Boston Globe front-pager by Beth Teitell:

  • "Tired and hungry after a day of high school and sports, Isaiah Ramsey likes to collapse on his bed, grab his phone, and place a mobile dinner order. To his mom. In the next room."
  • "Digital natives who are accustomed to summoning everything from their phones — restaurant meals, consumer goods, Uber — are lounging in their rooms and tapping out requests for service from their parents. 'Can you bring my charger?'"
  • "Parents who were initially horrified at the seemingly impersonal communication mode have not only made their peace with it — they're deploying it themselves. 'It's the only reliable way to reach them when they're upstairs,' said Remi Dansinger, a mother of three."
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Chinese industrialization poses “unprecedented” threat

The Economist writes that China's industrial might may now threaten the architecture of the global economy, Photo: Eugene Hoshiko / AP

"Tensions over China's industrial might now threaten the architecture of the global economy," The Economist writes in its cover editorial:

  • "America's trade representative this week called China an 'unprecedented' threat that cannot be tamed by existing trade rules."
  • "At the heart of these tensions is one simple, overwhelming fact: firms around the world face ever more intense competition from their Chinese rivals."
  • Why it matters: "China is not the first country to industrialise, but none has ever made the leap so rapidly and on such a monumental scale."
  • "Little more than a decade ago Chinese boom towns churned out [zippers], socks and cigarette lighters. Today the country is at the global frontier of new technology in everything from mobile payments to driverless cars."
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How Gen Z shops in the age of Amazon

Shoppers carry bags as they cross a pedestrian walkway near Macy's in Herald Square, in New York. Photo: Bebeto Matthews / AP

As brick and mortar stores struggle to stay afloat in the age of online shopping, the habits of the next generation of shoppers, Gen Z, will be key to determining their survival. So Adyen, an global payments processor, conducted a survey to find out what they're looking for when they shop.

The big picture: Gen Zers have grown up almost entirely in the digital age — they're currently 22 and under — and 75% say they spend their spare time online, with much of that time spent on mobile. That not only makes a store's online presence essential, it changes what younger customers are looking for in-store.

New expectations

  • Only 7% of Gen Zers want sales associates to help them in-store.
  • 54% have ordered items online and then picked up those items in-store, and 33% expect stores to have that option.
  • 39% want to pick up items in-store, have the store automatically charge their account, and walk out. However, Gen Zers still rank paying at a register with an associate as the number one preferred checkout method.
  • 66% would visit a store more often if they could check item availability beforehand.
  • 44% want virtual reality or augmented reality (to see how a dress fits, for example) to be incorporated in their retail shopping experiences in the next 12 months.

Personal experiences

  • Axios spoke to some Gen Zers about their shopping experiences — due to their age, we are keeping their last names confidential.
  • About half of Gen Zers expect products to be eco-friendly and socially responsible, as well as high-quality, per the survey.
  • 41% say they've been influenced by ads on Facebook, 30% for YouTube and 26% for Instagram, according to Adyen.
  • Kerri, 20, told Axios that for her, "personal interactions with brands" matter more than ads, or seeing the products in person.
  • Kerri said she likes seeing a cashier because it makes the experience more personal, but Maia, 15, said she'd prefer "just walk out" stores: "Having a cashier makes the whole affair clunkier."
  • One key quote, from Maia: "I feel like we're accustomed to technology taking big leaps."
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Trump's initial travel ban set to expire this weekend

A man holds up a sign in response to President Trump's travel ban at LAX in June. Photo; Mark J. Terrill / AP

The Trump administration's initial travel ban is set to expire on Sunday. That executive order banned people from six majority-Muslim countries with no "bona fide relationship" to the United States from entering the country. There is increased speculation that President Trump might seek to modify or expand the ban after his tweets following last week's terrorist attack in London, per Bloomberg.

Why it matters: The Supreme Court is set to hear arguments surrounding the ban's current form on Oct. 10, but any modification or expansion of the ban would likely nullify the arguments in that case. It would allow the Court to dismiss or remand the case to a lower federal court, further delaying its consideration of one of Trump's most controversial policies.

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North Korea has more than 1,300 unpaid NYC parking tickets

People watch a TV screen showing an image of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Photo: Ahn Young-joon/AP

North Korea has racked up more 1,300 New York City parking tickets totaling more than $156,000 since the 1990s, according to NBC's New York affiliate.

Jong Jo, secretary of North Korea's UN mission told NBC: "It's not true...Whenever we have a ticket, we pay. Because, you know, if we have three tickets the city does not allow us to renew their permission."

NBC discovered that a number of countries have accumulated more than $16 million in unpaid tickets since the 90s:

  • China: $398,736
  • Syria: $362, 550
  • Iran: $184, 987
  • Russia: $104, 231

How this happened: A 2002 memorandum of understanding (MOU) led to a "dramatic decrease" in parking abuse, and a total of $679,000 in foreign nations' parking violations since the MOU compared to the millions incurred before it. However, Mayor de Blasio said tickets prior to the MOU aren't forgiven, and "diplomatic delegations must still pay their debt."