July 24, 2023

Today's Topics

Hello! A woman who came forward claiming she’d won the $1.08 billion Powerball jackpot was accused of telling a whole lotto lies by the store owner's granddaughter, who claimed the real winner is yet to come forward. Today we’re exploring:

  • Barbenheimer boost: The box office had a big weekend.
  • Brewery boom: Has craft beer come to a head?
  • Lithium leader: Bolivia's holds the largest reserves of the valuable metal.
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Believe the hype

After months of media buzz and online excitement, Barbenheimer finally exploded onto screens around the world this weekend. And, as far as box office takings go, the double bill lived up to expectations, with the two reportedly raking in more than $240 million in the US.

As well as that hefty collective sum, there were individual accolades for Greta Gerwig’s Barbie and Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer too — the Mattel-based movie was the highest-grossing domestic debut of the year, while the existentialist atomic effort became the third biggest open for a biopic in the US, behind American Sniper and The Passion of the Christ.

Double up

Much has been made of the disparity between the films, but for many moviegoers that only added to the appeal. Indeed, an estimated 200,000+ Barbenheimer-heads booked in to watch both films on the same day in chains across the US, contributing to the first 3-day weekend in domestic history where one film has hauled $100m+ and another crossed the $50m+ threshold too. Could big budget double bills, especially comprised of unusual content combos, be exactly what cinema needs moving forward?

While official numbers are still being finalized, current estimates put this weekend at a 4-year high for ticket sales in North America. With all the Barbenheimer discourse, it’s easy to forget that installments of Mission: Impossible, Indiana Jones, and Spider-Man are all still showing in theaters too — a bolstered lineup that’s contributed to the whopping $300.2 million total that is being touted at the moment. That would be the highest domestic figure since 2019, when Avengers: Endgame saw takings rise to over $400 million.

Last call!

The nation's oldest craft brewer, the 127-year-old Anchor Brewing Company, is facing impending closure — unless a last-minute effort from its workers can pull together enough money to run the brewery as a co-op before the end of July.

Founded in 1896, amidst the frenzy of the California Gold Rush, the company has fallen on tough times before. It survived the catastrophic 1906 San Francisco earthquake and even navigated the dark era of prohibition — during which no official records of the company's activities were kept — before resuming operations in 1933. Anchor also overcame financial difficulties that forced its closure in 1959. The company blames its latest woes on a bitter combination of inflation, competition and a hangover from the pandemic — which the company has never fully recovered from.

Just one more

The competition part of the puzzle is hard to overstate. There are now over 9,700 breweries in the US as of 2022, more than triple the number from a decade ago. Beer aficionados wonder if there's still room for yet another take on the ubiquitous IPA. The Brewers Association, a trade group based in Colorado, forecasts that 2023 will witness the fewest brewery openings in over a decade. The once overflowing industry may have finally reached its tipping point.

To make matters more complicated, consumer preferences have evolved. Non-alcoholic beverages, such as kombucha, have been on the rise and spirits have gained in popularity. In light of these changes, the Anchor Brewing Company's fight for survival is not just a battle against the pandemic, but a struggle to adapt to shifting tastes and preferences.

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Worth its salt

Bolivia’s position as the world leader in lithium reserves has crystallized above mineral industry touchstones Chile, Argentina, and the US this week, after reporting a 2 million ton increase in its supply of the alkali metal in this year alone.

On Thursday, the Bolivian President Luis Arce announced that confirmed lithium resources in the country have increased to 23 million tons — up from 21 million tons in January 2023, as recorded by the US Geological Survey — following extensive government-funded geological studies of more than 66 wells across the Coipasa and Pasto Grandes salt flats.

Bolivia has already signed three major deals in the first half of this year to exploit natural deposits of lithium found in the expansive salt flats in the south-east of the country. Two Chinese companies, as well as Russian nuclear firm Uranium One Group, have so far pledged a total of $2.8 billion to industrialize the iconic Salar de Uyuni  — Bolivia’s most popular tourist attraction, which spans 12,000 square-kilometres and contains over 10 billion tons of salt.

Reactive investment

Bolivia comprises a third of the “lithium triangle” in South America, alongside Argentina and Chile, which collectively holds more than half of all lithium resources globally. Technological and political challenges in the country have meant that its vast mineral resources have been largely untapped thus far, but the opportunity for Bolivia is immense.

Since 2010, lithium consumption has nearly quadrupled, predominantly due to global demand for rechargeable lithium batteries to power electric vehicles and portable electronic devices. If Bolivia can extract it, it could transform the country's economy — lithium production is expected to need to increase at least four-fold by 2030 to meet growing global demand.

More Data

• The video game industry in Africa continues to boom, with the industry set to grow another 16% this year.

• Yeezys are still in high demand: Adidas has taken $565 million worth of online orders for the first batch of unsold Ye-designed sneakers.

• 140 Ernest Hemingway lookalikes went head to head at an annual celebration of the author in Key West on Saturday.

25 US states are within ≤0.1% of reaching record-low unemployment figures, with South Dakota’s jobless rate at just 1.8% last month.


• The Instagram rich list: how much high-profile posters like Cristiano Ronaldo and Kylie Jenner are earning per picture.

• Great visual deep dive on the competitive space race between North and South Korea.

Hoodmaps breaks down cities in the eyes of locals, partitioning maps into hipster, tourist, rich, and normie subsections.

The data doesn't lie: Taylor Swift is the biggest popstar on the planet (Chartr Deep Dive from Sunday).

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