Author: bgr

A look at the 10 biggest movie flops of the last 15 years

Every year, Hollywood churns out hundreds of new movies; some are incredible and others are downright forgettable. Interestingly, the metric that many movie studios use to assess the success of any one film isn’t exactly aligned with how the general public tends to judge a film. While everyday movie goers might evaluate a film based on its overall rating and critical reception, movie executives tend to be singularly focused on the bottom line. And when one takes into account box office receipts outside of the U.S., the process of figuring out what movie constitutes a flop becomes a bit more blurry.

Take the 2017 movie Baywatch starring Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron, for example. The movie was poorly received and didn’t make much of a dent in the U.S. box office. Overseas, however, the movie was a huge success, perhaps anchored by the popularity of David Hasselhoff. That said, if you’re looking to put together a list of the biggest movie flops in recent memory, you might be surprised as to which films make the cut.

Tackling this very question, Looper this week put together a video which maps out the biggest Hollywood flops over the last 15 years. While some entrants on the list are hardly surprising — with the 2016 dud Ben-Hur being a prime example — some of the films on the list might surprise you. For example, you might be surprised to see 2008’s Speed Racer make an appearance. Interestingly, and as the video below points out, the film had an insane marketing budget that only added to an already expensive production.

The full list reads as follows: 10) Speed Racer 9) Sahara 8) How Do You Know 7) Ben-Hur 6) The Alamo 5) Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas 4) Mars Needs Mom 3) Tomorrowland 2) The Lone Ranger and 1) John Carter

Will the Galaxy Note 9 be faster than the OnePlus 6?

Now that the OnePlus 6 is officially out, we know the smartphone is significantly faster than its rivals, including Samsung’s Galaxy S9 series and Apple’s iPhone X. That’s even more impressive considering that the Galaxy S9 rocks the same Snapdragon 845 processor that goes inside the OnePlus 6, although the Chinese smartphone maker went crazy on RAM again. The OnePlus 6 does have 8GB RAM, while the Galaxy S9+ only gets 6GB.

The Galaxy Note 9, of course, is Samsung’s next high-end smartphone. So will it be faster than the OnePlus 6?

A benchmark for the Exynos version of the Galaxy Note 9 reveals the phone won’t offer a significant performance boost compared to the Galaxy S9. The Note 9 will also come in two versions, powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 and an Exynos 9810, as expected.

The Exynos 9810 scores are slightly superior to the Snapdragon 845 benchmark that was leaked a few years ago. We’re looking at 2737 and 9064 in single- and multi-core tests for the Exynos-powered Samsung SM-N960N, according to the Geekbench listing found by MobielKopen.

The Snapdragon 845 Galaxy Note 9, meanwhile, scored 2411 and 8712 in the same tests. It’s worth pointing out that the Qualcomm-powered Galaxy S9 version also scored lower in benchmarks than the Exynos model, but did better in real-life tests.

The OnePlus 6, meanwhile, scored 2474 and 9082 in Geekbench tests, and we noted in our review that the multi-core score is the highest score obtained by any Android device in this benchmark.

Needless to say that neither the Galaxy S9/Note 9 or the OnePlus 6 can score as high as the iPhone X’s A11 Bionic chip in benchmark tests.

The new benchmark, listed on Geekbench on Friday, also reveals that the Galaxy Note 9 will have 6GB of RAM. It’s unclear whether Samsung will make an 8GB Galaxy Note 9 this year.

Netflix cancellations are on the rise, but there’s no reason to worry

There’s no question that Netflix is an absolute juggernaut when it comes to media content. Each and every month, the streaming giant releases an eclectic array of original programming that’s practically impossible for any one person to keep up with. And speaking to Netflix’s ambitious goals with respect to original content, the company earlier this year said that it plans to have 1,000 originals on its platform by the end of 2018.

At the same time, Netflix in recent months has gone on something of a cancellation spree. In 2018 alone, Netflix canceled 13 shows, including the critically-acclaimed Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Everything Sucks, and the poorly received Disjointed. All the more interesting is that some shows were given a pink-slip after just one season on the air.

In light of this, a new report from MarketWatch claims that Netflix is finally starting to pay attention to ratings, though it’s worth noting that the company still does not disclose viewership totals for individual shows.

One industry source who works for a digital data company and spoke on condition of anonymity said he knew of three Netflix shows that failed to attract 1 million U.S. viewers in the first seven days of release: “Gypsy,” a drama starring Naomi Watts and Billy Crudup; “Girlboss,” a comedy inspired by Sophia Amoruso’s business memoir; and “Flaked,” a dramatic comedy starring Will Arnett about a troubled self-help guru.

Personally, I don’t think the seemingly unprecedented number of cancellations is cause for concern or representative of a shift in Netflix’s programming strategy. For starters, with the company rolling out more original content than ever before, it would make sense for cancellations to rise accordingly. Further, as Netflix accumulates more shows, any one show becomes less integral to the platform overall.

If anything, Netflix’s decision to cancel shows should be viewed as a good thing insofar that it underscores the company’s willingness to take big bets and go back to the drawing board when some of those bets fail. Take Disjointed, for example, the company’s marijuana-themed Office parody of a weed dispensary. It may very well be one of the worst shows I’ve ever seen and overall reviews of the show were abysmal. We don’t have specific ratings for the program but I can’t imagine that it moved the needle. By cancelling the show, and others, Netflix managed to free up even more money in its gargantuan budget to fund different projects.

On a related note, Netflix seems intent on funding more ambitious projects that necessarily require bigger budgets. Over the past few days alone, we’ve learned that Netflix inked a deal with the Obamas and a feature film deal with Michael Bay and Ryan Reynolds. These types of deals don’t come cheap and it would only make sense for Netflix to cancel underperforming shows as part of a broader effort to fund more unique programming efforts.

All that said, the real metrics that matter to Netflix center on subscriber growth and user engagement. As to the former, Netflix’s subscriber base continues to grow at an impressive clip, with the company noting a few weeks ago that its service now boats more than 125 million subscribers across the globe. As a point of reference, Netflix at the end of 2014 had 57.4 million subscribers, which is to say that subscriber growth more than doubled since then. Even more impressive is that Netflix’s worldwide subscriber base has increased by 25% over the last year alone, jumping from 100 million to 125 million in about 12 months time.

iPhone to unlock hotel doors, act as virtual transit card after iOS 12 update

The iPhone 6 was the first iPhone to come with a built-in NFC chip, needed to handle Apple Pay transactions. Apple’s mobile payment solution came alongside iPhone 6 and has been available on all iPhones and Apple Watch models launched since then.

Apple, however, did not allow third-party developers to take advantage of the full abilities of the NFC chip until now. Things are about to change come iOS 12, which will transform iPhones into hotel key doors, virtual transit cards, to name a few examples of what can be done with NFC technology.

With the WWDC 2018 keynote just a few days away, The Information reports (via 9to5Mac) that Apple is about to make significant changes to the NFC chip inside the iPhone come iOS 12.

Used in third-party apps, the NFC chip will let you unlock hotel doors, your car doors, pay transit fares and verify your identity in other ways, the report says.

Apparently, Apple has already deployed the iPhone-based doors unlocking feature on its campus, where employees can open doors using their iPhones. Apple has partnered with HID Global to test the features.

The new functionality is expected to work just as quickly as Apple Pay. Tapping an iPhone to a door would suffice to unlock it. The same procedure would be used to pay for transit fares. The Information says Apple is working with Cubic on such features.

It’s unclear whether Apple will open NFC access to all developers starting with iOS 12, or just to a bunch of select partners. Apple will supposedly reveal these new iPhone features on June 4th, during its main WWDC keynote.

Amazon Alexa recording ‘bug’ shows how little we actually know about our smart home gadgets

Yesterday, the news cycle worked overtime to first bring us the story of how an Amazon Echo secretly sent recordings of a couple’s conversations to a friend, and then to explain why that happened. Amazon says that the glitch was caused by the Echo inadvertently interpreting a word as “Alexa,” a follow-up phrase as “send message,” and then the name of someone who was in their contacts list.

Amazon is trying to brush the story off as “hey, that’s weird!” and in isolation, this bug doesn’t seem all that serious. But what this story reveals is how little we actually know about our smart speakers, what they’re recording that they shouldn’t be, and how often they listen in on conversations that they shouldn’t.

In its initial statement, Amazon said that it was an “extremely rare occurrence;” in a follow-up, it said that “unlikely as this string of events is, we are evaluating options to make this case even less likely.”

Nowhere in there is any data on how often things like this happen. Amazon, Google, and Apple don’t offer any data on false positives for its always-listening smart speakers, which is a terrifying prospect for our privacy. We’ve let always-on devices into our homes because we’ve been repeatedly promised that they’re not listening until they hear a “wake word,” like an obedient butler standing discreetly outside the room until summoned.

But as this event shows, we don’t really have a handle on what they’re listening to. Last October, an Android Police blogger found that his Google Home Mini was recording nearly everything he said and uploading it to Google’s servers, something he wouldn’t ever have known about if he wasn’t checking the activity log for his device. We don’t have any data on how often these kinds of false positives happen, and the mere fact that they can should be cause for concern.

Sure, you can manually use the mute switch on most devices to physically disable the microphone, but I think the common assumption with these devices is that they’re not listening until triggered, rather than that they’re always listening, but only sometimes choose to act on your words.

The solution? Throwing all always-listening devices in the trash probably isn’t likely at this point, but a small dose of transparency would go a long way. Until Google and Amazon provide some data on how often their devices are triggered but no meaningful command given after, we could probably do with a dose more skepticism.