Category Archives: Finance

Twinkies & Other Hostess Snacks To Return To Store Shelves On July 15th

Twinkies Comeback

Hostess Brands, which is emerging from bankruptcy after the sale of its snack and bread brands, said last week it plans to resume the sale of its iconic Twinkies and other snacks next month.

Private equity firms Apollo Global Management (APO) and C. Dean Metropoulos & Co. partnered to buy some of the bakery’s snack cakes for $410 million. The scaled-down Hostess Brands LLC includes Twinkies, Ho Hos, Ding Dongs, CupCakes and others.

When Twinkies went out of production and store shelves ran empty, boxes of the spongy yellow cake were the subject of bidding wars on auction sites like eBay.

In March Daren Metropoulos, principal of Metropoulos & Co., calmed fears of a long-term Twinkies shortage by saying the firm expected to have the cakes back on U.S. store shelves by the summer.

Hostess now expects to have its brands back on sale nationwide on July 15, calling it “the sweetest comeback in the history of ever.”

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“America wanted Hostess back—they wanted the original. Very soon consumers will once again be able to enjoy Twinkies, CupCakes and other great Hostess snack cakes,” Daren Metropoulos said in a statement. “A comeback by any other name could never be as sweet.”

On its website, Hostess has a digital clock counting down until the return of its snack icons.

Prices for the cakes will remain the same, company spokeswoman Hannah Arnold said. A box of 10 Twinkies was previously sold for $3.99.

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Newsweek’s Last Print Issue Cover Released

I guess it’s just a sign of the times…first record stores, then book shops and now magazines; today Newsweek released the cover for its last-ever print issue. The cover features a vintage picture of the old Newsweek offices in New York, accompanied by the headline “#LASTPRINTISSUE.”

Newsweek will become a digital-only publication when the new year hits. Editor Tina Brown has said that the magazine could no longer realistically stay in print due to the new economics of the media industry.

The last issue contains essays by former editors and high-profile Newsweek alumni, as well as a lengthy oral history of the magazine.

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Disney To Acquire Lucasfilm, Star Wars: Episode 7 Feature Film Targeted For Release In 2015

The Walt Disney Company announced today it has agreed to acquire Lucasfilm and is planning Star Wars Episode 7 for 2015! Disney revealed on a conference call that they are planning a new trilogy starting in 2015 with a new movie coming every other year. They have no plans for Indiana Jones at this time and are concentrating on the Star Wars franchise for now.

Here is the full press release:

Continuing its strategy of delivering exceptional creative content to audiences around the world, The Walt Disney Company (NYSE: DIS) has agreed to acquire Lucasfilm Ltd. in a stock and cash transaction. Lucasfilm is 100% owned by Lucasfilm Chairman and Founder, George Lucas.

Under the terms of the agreement and based on the closing price of Disney stock on October 26, 2012, the transaction value is $4.05 billion, with Disney paying approximately half of the consideration in cash and issuing approximately 40 million shares at closing. The final consideration will be subject to customary post-closing balance sheet adjustments.

“Lucasfilm reflects the extraordinary passion, vision, and storytelling of its founder, George Lucas,” said Robert A. Iger, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The Walt Disney Company. “This transaction combines a world-class portfolio of content including Star Wars, one of the greatest family entertainment franchises of all time, with Disney’s unique and unparalleled creativity across multiple platforms, businesses, and markets to generate sustained growth and drive significant long-term value.”

“For the past 35 years, one of my greatest pleasures has been to see Star Wars passed from one generation to the next,” said George Lucas, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Lucasfilm. “It’s now time for me to pass Star Wars on to a new generation of filmmakers. I’ve always believed that Star Wars could live beyond me, and I thought it was important to set up the transition during my lifetime. I’m confident that with Lucasfilm under the leadership of Kathleen Kennedy, and having a new home within the Disney organization, Star Wars will certainly live on and flourish for many generations to come. Disney’s reach and experience give Lucasfilm the opportunity to blaze new trails in film, television, interactive media, theme parks, live entertainment, and consumer products.”

Under the deal, Disney will acquire ownership of Lucasfilm, a leader in entertainment, innovation and technology, including its massively popular and “evergreen” Star Wars franchise and its operating businesses in live action film production, consumer products, animation, visual effects, and audio post production. Disney will also acquire the substantial portfolio of cutting-edge entertainment technologies that have kept audiences enthralled for many years. Lucasfilm, headquartered in San Francisco, operates under the names Lucasfilm Ltd., LucasArts, Industrial Light & Magic, and Skywalker Sound, and the present intent is for Lucasfilm employees to remain in their current locations. 

Kathleen Kennedy, current Co-Chairman of Lucasfilm, will become President of Lucasfilm, reporting to Walt Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn. Additionally she will serve as the brand manager for Star Wars, working directly with Disney’s global lines of business to build, further integrate, and maximize the value of this global franchise. Ms. Kennedy will serve as executive producer on new Star Wars feature films, with George Lucas serving as creative consultant. Star Wars Episode 7 is targeted for release in 2015, with more feature films expected to continue the Star Wars saga and grow the franchise well into the future.

The acquisition combines two highly compatible family entertainment brands, and strengthens the long-standing beneficial relationship between them that already includes successful integration of Star Wars content into Disney theme parks in Anaheim, Orlando, Paris and Tokyo. 

Driven by a tremendously talented creative team, Lucasfilm’s legendary Star Wars franchise has flourished for more than 35 years, and offers a virtually limitless universe of characters and stories to drive continued feature film releases and franchise growth over the long term. Star Wars resonates with consumers around the world and creates extensive opportunities for Disney to deliver the content across its diverse portfolio of businesses including movies, television, consumer products, games and theme parks. Star Wars feature films have earned a total of $4.4 billion in global box to date, and continued global demand has made Star Wars one of the world’s top product brands, and Lucasfilm a leading product licensor in the United States in 2011. The franchise provides a sustainable source of high quality, branded content with global appeal and is well suited for new business models including digital platforms, putting the acquisition in strong alignment with Disney’s strategic priorities for continued long-term growth.

The Lucasfilm acquisition follows Disney’s very successful acquisitions of Pixar and Marvel, which demonstrated the company’s unique ability to fully develop and expand the financial potential of high quality creative content with compelling characters and storytelling through the application of innovative technology and multiplatform distribution on a truly global basis to create maximum value. Adding Lucasfilm to Disney’s portfolio of world class brands significantly enhances the company’s ability to serve consumers with a broad variety of the world’s highest-quality content and to create additional long-term value for our shareholders.

The Boards of Directors of Disney and Lucasfilm have approved the transaction, which is subject to clearance under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act, certain non-United States merger control regulations, and other customary closing conditions. The agreement has been approved by the sole shareholder of Lucasfilm.

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The World’s Most Expensive Comic Book Art

The 20 most valuable comics ever auctioned off have all been sold since 2010. In the past two years, the astronomical selling prices of “holy grail” books like Action Comics No. 1 and Detective Comics No. 27 have triggered a boom in the comic book collectors’ market. Buyer interest shows no signs of slowing for first editions and other high-profile comics from long ago.

Check out the gallery HERE for a look at the top 10 comic books and art that have brought in the most money to date.

Considered by some to be the “holy grail” of comics collecting, an issue of Action Comics No. 1 sold in late 2011 for $2.161 million. 

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Make Your Geek Dream A Reality With ThinkGeek’s IdeaFactory

ThinkGeek, purveyors of all gadgets, toys and geeky things just announced “ThinkGeek IdeaFactory”.

Let’s say you have an idea for the next geeky product…

You simply submit your idea in writing with an image of the future product. ThinkGeek reviews your idea, make sure it passes the caveats, and responds within 60 days.

If they choose to make the product you get paid an advance of $1000 and then 10% of retail sales for the life of the product up to $1 million in Net Sales. When your product reaches $1 million, the rate drops to 5%.. Royalties will be paid quarterly. I

In addition, you will also have the opportunity to purchase any quantity of the product at a reasonable price just above cost (excluding shipping).

You’ll be free to sell that product on your own website or when you make public appearances at conventions, trade shows, or other public events.

Click HERE for more information and to begin the process that leads to your fortune and fame!

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The World’s Top-Earning Authors

Watch your back, James Patterson. Sleep with one eye open, Stephen King.

Men still top the list of the world’s highest-earning authors, but this year it’s the women on the list who’ve been making the boldest moves, led by a trio of genre phenoms: Suzanne Collins, E.L. James and J.K. Rowling.

Forbes compiled a list of the top-earning authors that you can check out HERE.

Stephen King ranked second earning $39 million. It was a big year for the author as his time-travel book “11/22/63″ and a new installment of his “Dark Tower” series, “The Wind Through The Keyhole” were released.

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The Avengers Becomes Biggest Disney Release of All Time

Marvel’s “The Avengers” continues to shatter box-office records, assembling moviegoers into theaters at an incredible rate. According to a recent report by The Hollywood Reporter, Earth’s Mightiest Movie surpassed $1.07 billion worldwide on Thursday to become the #6 biggest film of all time and the highest-grossing release in Disney history, surpassing both “Toy Story 3″ and “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest.” Additionally, “The Avengers” has taken the throne for the fastest release to reach $400 million domestically, clocking in with about $402 million at the end of Thursday.

The Thursday total puts “The Avengers” within reach of capturing the #2 spot for highest domestic grossing comic book film adaptations from “Spider-Man,” which grossed $403.7 million during its entire life-span. However, Marvel’s film has a long way to go in order to beat “The Dark Knight,” which current sits at $533.3 million domestic, and even further in order to dethrone the top grossing movie of all time, “Avatar,” which grossed $760.5 million during its time in theaters. However, “The Avengers” is well on its way to break the top ten domestic grossing movies of all time, needing only to surpass the $415 million total of “Toy Story 3.”

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The Avengers Passes $1 Billion Mark Worldwide in 19 Days

Marvel’s The Avengers is expected to cross the $1 billion threshold at the global box office on May 13, its 19th day in release, The Walt Disney Studios has announced. This is the first Marvel Studios film and the fifth Walt Disney Studios release to reach this important milestone.

The news comes just a week after Marvel’s The Avengers shattered records with a $207.4 million opening weekend, the biggest domestic debut of all time. The film has now earned an estimated $373.2 million at the domestic box office and $628.9 million internationally. As one of only 12 films in history to gross $1 billion, it joins Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, Alice in Wonderland, Disney•Pixar’s Toy Story 3, and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides on Disney’s list of billion-dollar films.

“We’re obviously thrilled with the global success of The Avengers,” said Robert A. Iger, Disney’s Chairman and CEO. “It’s a fantastic movie and an extraordinary franchise that will continue with more great stories and compelling characters for years to come.”

Marvel’s The Avengers has set several domestic box office records including the industry’s all-time second weekend record with an estimated $103.2 million, fastest film to reach $200 million (3 days), fastest to $300 million (in a record 9 days), and highest Saturday ($69.5 million) and Sunday ($57 million) totals.  In addition, its opening day of $80.8 million is the second-highest single-day gross of all time. Moviegoers gave Marvel’s The Avengers a rare A+ CinemaScore.

Internationally, Marvel’s The Avengers began opening April 25 and is the biggest opening weekend of all time in Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador, Central America, Peru, Bolivia, Hong Kong, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, and United Arab Emirates. Marvel’s The Avengers has now opened in all major markets except Japan (August 17).

On May 8, Disney announced that a sequel to Marvel’s The Avengers was in development, following last month’s announcement that a follow-up to 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger will be released April 4, 2014. A sequel to last summer’s Thor is scheduled for release November 15, 2013, and the third installment of the hit Iron Man series, which has earned over $1.2 billion worldwide, will arrive in theaters May 3, 2013.

Marvel’s The Avengers is the first Marvel Studios film to be marketed and distributed by The Walt Disney Studios.

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Batman #1 From 1940 Brings $850,000 In Private Sale At Heritage Auctions

A high-grade example of the sought-after comic book Batman #1 (1940) has been sold for $850,000 in a private transaction via HA.com’s ComicMarket, Heritage Auctions has announced.

The copy, certified Near Mint minus 9.2 with off-white pages, was sold on behalf of a private collector and purchased by an investor partnership. The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide lists Batman #1 as the 6th most valuable Comic Book in NM- condition.

“It’s amazing that three years ago, no comic book had ever sold for even half that amount,” said Ed Jaster, Vice President of Heritage Auctions, which brokered the sale. “Heritage is holding a $4+ million comics and comic art auction in Dallas May 10-11. Many collectors and dealers will be watching to see how Golden Age comics perform there.”

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How Much Did Mad Men Pay To Use The Beatles Song, Tomorrow Never Knows?

On Sunday night, a new episode of Mad Men, the 1960s period drama that concluded with the Beatles song “Tomorrow Never Knows” appears to have made some history of its own, marking a rare instance in which a song written and recorded by that band has been licensed for use on a television series.

“It was always my feeling that the show lacked a certain authenticity because we never could have an actual master recording of the Beatles performing,” Matthew Weiner, the creator and show runner of “Mad Men,” said in a telephone interview on Monday. “Not just someone singing their song or a version of their song, but them, doing a song in the show. It always felt to me like a flaw. Because they are the band, probably, of the 20th century.”

As with most transactions that involve the Beatles, that usage did not come cheap. According to two people briefed on the deal, who were not authorized to speak about it, Lionsgate, the studio that produces “Mad Men,” paid about $250,000 for the recording and publishing rights to the song. That is an appropriately high price, several music and advertising executives say, since many major pop songs can be licensed for less than $100,000.

Read more HERE.

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