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​​🎭 Why ScarJo is suing Disney+

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August 2, 2021

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How’s this for hot gossip? A new book claims Elon Musk demanded to be CEO of Apple during Tesla acquisition talks, prompting a potty-mouthed response from Tim Cook. Both parties deny the conversation happened.

Today’s rundown:

  • The Avengers… avenge: The big implications of Scarlet Johansson’s Disney lawsuit.
  • Business of good: Jay-Z and Will Smith invested in a startup that helps low-income renters become homeowners.
  • Digits: 45% of remote workers work from the couch, and other wild numbers from around the web.

Let’s do it.

 
The big idea

Why the ScarJo vs. Disney drama is just the beginning

Scarlett Johansson sued Disney last week, claiming that the company breached her contract by putting Marvel’s Black Widow on Disney+ Premier Access.

For Disney, the trouble may just be getting started.

It’s all about box office vs. streaming

Talent is often paid, in part, based on box office revenue. Johansson’s complaint is that she was promised a theatrical release, and that the simultaneous streaming release could cost her up to $50m.

Black Widow’s July 9 opening weekend saw:

  • $60m+ from digital sales
  • $80m in US theaters
  • $78m overseas

But box office sales fell 67% in its 2nd weekend — worse than any other Marvel flick.

Disney fired back…

… calling Johansson’s suit without merit and “distressing in its callous disregard” for the pandemic. (The same pandemic during which heiress Abigail Disney slammed the company for laying off thousands while still paying out exec bonuses.)

Though the pandemic increased streaming releases, Johansson was already concerned about it in early 2019.

Emails between her reps and Marvel’s counsel assured the star of a theatrical release or further discussion should that change.

Disney isn’t the only company navigating streaming releases

Due to the pandemic, Warner Bros. moved all of its 2021 films to simultaneous release on HBO Max.

WarnerMedia faced blowback from talent and movie theater chain/memestock AMC, and also paid out $200m+ to renegotiate talent contracts.

ScarJo’s lawsuit may be the 1st domino

In our increasingly streaming world, an A-lister whose Marvel arc ended with Avengers: Endgame (Black Widow was a prequel) is well-poised to take on the issue.

Cruella’s Emma Stone is already rumored to be “weighing her options.”

Meanwhile, Disney’s Jungle Cruise — starring Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt — debuted this weekend and was expected to hit ~$30m in domestic box office sales. The Rock reportedly has no plans to sue. No word on Blunt.

SNIPPETS

Stadia’s pivot: Google plans to “white label” the back end of its Stadia cloud gaming platform. #big-tech

Pending panic: Traders plan for a crypto crash could be imminent as the market price approaches $1.7T. #fintech-cryptocurrency

Big data, big fine: Amazon faces the biggest fine in EU history: $887m for reportedly violating data privacy laws. #ecommerce-retail

TikTok goes for gold: Many viewers are experiencing the Olympics primarily through the social app. #emerging-tech

 
 
Startups, Real Estate

Landis is a startup you should know — with some legendary investors

Aspiring homebuyers have “99 Problems,” but Jay-Z and Will Smith are here to help.

  • The duo joined a $165m raise for Landis, a “rent-to-own” startup focused on helping low-income buyers build wealth.

In other words, they want to facilitate “The Pursuit of Happyness.”

The firm’s mission sets it apart from other rent-to-own ventures

A rent-to-own agreement allows you to rent a property with an option to buy it within a certain time frame. Landis works like so:

  • The company targets houses between $110k-$400k, and requires prospective clients to apply to its program.
  • Once accepted, clients pick out their dream home and Landis makes sure the purchase goes through without a “Hitch.”
  • Clients can rent from Landis for 24 months, and purchase the home anytime they’re ready.

Along the way, Landis provides access to coaching that helps them manage finances and improve their credit score — allowing them to build “The Blueprint” to better savings.

Landis primarily profits from the sale of the home

By setting rent in line with carrying costs, they ensure rates are fair beyond a “Reasonable Doubt.”

While the current buying environment can feel like the “Wild Wild West,” Landis is making it easier to navigate while simultaneously working toward financial inclusion.

If they succeed, it may go down as one of the greatest collabs in hip-hop history.

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By the numbers

Digits: RV records, mouse brains, and $406m card games

1) We’re on the road. Following a record-setting quarter in which 151k+ RVs were shipped to dealers, there are now 11.2m North American households that own an RV, +26% over the last decade.

2) Giving Google Maps a run for its money, scientists finished a 5-year project 3D-mapping the synaptic connections among a microscopic clump of 200k mouse brain cells.

3) This is just magical. Hasbro’s Wizards of the Coast division, which oversees gaming properties like “Magic: the Gathering,” brought in $406m in Q2 revenue, +118% YoY.

4) As per the Olympians and Paralympians Act of 2016, which ended a so-called “victory tax,” US Olympians earning less than $1m a year can pocket their $37.5k gold, $22.5k silver, and $15k bronze medal prizes tax-free.

5) This was written from a couch, and we’re not the only ones. A new survey of Americans working remotely found 45% regularly work from their couch, 38% from bed, and 20% from outside.

6) Well, that’s just nuts. One out of every 153 employed Americans now work for Amazon, or ~950k people in the US. Walmart employs ~1.6m Americans, or 1 out of every 91.

AROUND THE WEB

🎬 How to: Transitions can make your TikTok videos even better. The Verge explains how to add them.

🟠 Haha: Some kids really don’t wanna go to school. A science professor explores how conniving kids are using OJ and soda to fake positive COVID tests.

🎹 That’s cool: Adrian Alexander Mann built an 18.9-foot-long piano just to hear what longer bass strings sound like. It’s beautiful — but we wouldn’t want to move it.

🍰 Wait, what: A 2.3k-year-old “bog butter.” A century-old ham. A preserved wedding cake from 1898. Here’s where some of the world’s oldest foods are on display.

😓 Hmm: How bad is a toxic workplace for your health? One study found it triples employees’ risk of depression.

🍏 On this day: In 2018, Apple became the 1st US public company to reach a market cap of $1T. Two years later, it hit $2T.

 
 
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