Epic Games v Apple, M&S Brexit woes and the dawn of the cross-Border cinema trade

Planet Business: Working to find sustainable models

 

Image of the week: EU elephants

Untangle the audio-guides, dust the velvet ropes: museums and art galleries have now reopened in several countries across Europe, including in France, where prime minister Jean Castex was spotted this week saying hello to the world’s cheeriest sculpture at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris. Heartwarming as it is to see politicians out and about enjoying a little bit of culture, when can we hope to see Paris again?

Well, the latest omens for the EU’s digital green pass look good from about July onwards, meaning anyone who has been vaccinated, has a recent negative test for Covid-19 or has had the virus in the previous six months will be able to travel to other EU countries operating the scheme without quarantining. That’s the plan, anyway. Many uncertainties remain, including why exactly this sculpture has a tiny elephant in its hand.

In numbers: Never the Same Again

14%

Decline in Marks & Spencer sales in the Republic in the year to April 3rd. The retailer is now seeking redundancies as part of a reinvention programme miserably titled Never the Same Again.

146%

Pandemic-inspired gain in its online sales in the Republic compared to the previous 12 months, which could only partly offset a 28 per cent plummet in sales in its mostly cordoned-off stores.

£27m to £33m

M&S estimates the cost of Brexit to its operations in the Republic and the North will be this much (€31m-€38m) in the current financial year. “Short-term solutions” have been implemented to what is visibly the “problematic” supply of food products and it is now “working to find sustainable models”.

Getting to know: Tim Sweeney

Tim Sweeney founded Fortnite-maker Epic Games in his parents’ house in Maryland, US, in 1991. He’s now worth $7.4 billion, according to Forbes, and is confident enough to go to war with Apple over its requirement that mobile games developers use its payment system for in-app purchases and hand over up to 30 per cent commission.

Epic has absolutely no truck with this cut, and has sued Apple on the basis it is exercising monopoly power by charging it, with Sweeney dubbing it Apple’s “app tax” and alleging that Apple has “made pawns of customers”.

Recently seen striding into a US district court in Oakland, California, for a hearing of Epic’s case, Sweeney isn’t just angry, he’s disappointed. The early days of Apple “played a profound role in shaping my life and views on computing”, he tweeted. Now he wants to fight for the “original digital freedoms” that Apple once represented – that and the money, presumably.

The list: Rabbits and other blockbusters

Cinema-going in Ireland is now a thing you can only do in the North, prompting Omniplex’s Mark Anderson to predict “a substantial amount of people will be travelling for Peter Rabbit 2” – not a sentence anyone might have expected to hear before the pandemic. So what else is now showing or coming soon?

1. Fast and Furious 9. Better known as F9 to its fans, the latest instalment in the franchise on June 24th, more than two years after its original release date. By this point cinemas in the Republic should hopefully be open too.

2. Cruella. Emma Stone stars as a 1970s punk rock version of Cruella de Vil in the Disney film, which is now also available on Disney Plus for the price of a small Dalmation.

3. Black Widow. Scarlett Johansson stars as the former Russian spy turned Avenger in the Marvel film, which from July 9th will also be available on Disney Plus for the price of a small ransom.

4. A Quiet Place II. The horror sequel adorned the sides of half the Dublin Bus fleet during Lockdown 1.0, when the city was indeed a very Quiet Place.

5. No Time to Die. The Covid-19 crisis cannot be deemed over until Daniel Craig gets to stop promoting James Bond, which at the time of writing is pencilled in for October 1st.

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