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Welcome back to the Monday grind

Good morning. Everything is going according to plan.

  • Lionel Messi scored a dramatic game-winning goal in his MLS debut, and the US women’s team defeated Vietnam in their first game in the World Cup.
  • Barbenheimer is off to a blistering start, with Barbie and Oppenheimer snagging $32.8 million in combined North American ticket sales on Thursday. All signs point to a massive opening weekend for the double feature.
  • A wise man (Tracy Jordan) once said, “Live every week like it’s Shark Week.” Well, it actually is Shark Week, so y’all better show up.


Barbenheimer was the real deal

People dress up as the doll Barbie to attend the Barbie movie on July 21, 2023 in New York City.Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

Answering the question “Can memes translate to ticket sales?” once and for all, Barbie and Oppenheimer gave North American movie theaters their best weekend since Avengers: Endgame arrived four years ago.

Both movies dismantled expectations and put up historic numbers.

  • Greta Gerwig’s Barbie pulled in $155 million, good for the best opening of the year and the best domestic opening for a woman director in history.
  • Oppenheimer, Christopher Nolan’s saga about the father of the atomic bomb, grossed $80.5 million. That’s a remarkable haul for an R-rated movie (especially a historical drama that lasts three hours), and it far outpaced projections of $50 million.

While the two critically acclaimed films may have been successful on their own, their unique pairing had people thinking “Well, I want to see one, so I might as well see the other too.” About 200,000 moviegoers bought tickets to see Barbie and Oppenheimer on the same day this weekend in North America, per the trade group the National Association of Theater Owners.

What can we learn from Barbenheimer’s success?

  1. Both movies offered a “more than a movie” experience. For Barbie, that meant dressing up in pink with your friends and recapturing your childhood relationship with the doll. For Oppenheimer, it meant going to an IMAX screen to lose yourself in the spectacle. IMAX CEO Rich Gelfond said 4am showings of Oppenheimer were sold out around the world this weekend.
  2. Audiences crave fresh stories. Barbenheimer, comprising two creatively ambitious films from outside-the-box directors, was successful at a time when studios may have squeezed all the juice they can out of tired IP. The fifth Indiana Jones disappointed, the seventh Mission: Impossible underwhelmed, and Disney plans to pull back on making Star Wars and Marvel content.

Bottom line: The movie industry will cheers to Barbenheimer till the champagne runs dry because there’s little else worth celebrating. More than 100,000 Hollywood actors and writers are on strike, sending movie production—and promotion—into a deep freeze that shows no signs of thawing.



Vibe check 1, 2, 1, 2

When you’re in a race, it helps to know where you’re pacing. The same rules apply to your commerce content program: Knowing where you stand can help raise your earnings in a fiercely competitive industry.

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  • structuring their programs to overcome common challenges
  • investing in growth tools and partnerships
  • implementing solutions that drive revenue

Learn how to level up your commerce content program—and your revenue. Download the infographic here.


Tour de headlines

Elon Musk pointing with a bird on his fingerPhoto Illustration: Dianna “Mick” McDougall, Photo: Getty Images/Frederic J. Brown

 Elon Musk is X-ing out Twitter’s bird. Musk said that he’s going to replace Twitter’s famous bird logo (what the company calls its “most recognizable asset”) with an “X” as soon as today. Ditching Twitter’s classic branding is the clearest indication yet that Musk intends to create an “everything app” under a new company called X Corp. But whether its logo is a bird or an X, the social media company remains in a deep financial hole: Just last week, Cathie Wood’s ARK Investment Management wrote down its stake in Twitter by 47%.

 The Nasdaq 100 is getting rebalanced: Ahead of the market opening today, Nasdaq shuffled the weighting of its Nasdaq 100 index so that the biggest tech companies have less sway. The issue is that the market caps of tech giants like Microsoft, Apple, and Nvidia have gotten so big recently that when we refer to “the Nasdaq,” we’re actually just talking about a few companies that hold outsized influence (even after the changes, Apple and Microsoft will account for 22% of the index’s weighting). The rebalancing isn’t expected to have a meaningful impact on stock prices.

 Israeli parliament prepares for key vote. Israel’s lawmakers are set to vote today on a judicial overhaul that’s sparked months of mass protests against the far-right government. In a late plot twist, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was hospitalized over the weekend to receive a pacemaker, but he pledged to travel to the Knesset for the vote. Israel’s business leaders have warned that the judicial reforms would harm the country’s status as the “startup nation”—a survey found that almost 70% of Israeli startups have taken action to shift parts of their business out of the country.


So far, power grids pass the heat test

The sun sets behind power lines on a warm afternoon in Long Beach, where temperatures reached into the low 80s on Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2022Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Even as sizzling US cities thrum with the sound of air conditioners, power grids in the hottest states have shown few signs of buckling, the WSJ reported.

California utility Pacific Gas and Electric Company said it would be able to meet heightened demand for electricity this summer, while the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which is known for being not that reliable, hasn’t asked residents to conserve electricity since last month—even as power demand hit a new record last week.

It’s a “pinch me, I’m dreaming” moment for grids that were hit with dangerous blackouts during extreme weather events in the past few years. But you’re not dreaming—there are real reasons why power grids are holding up during the heat waves of summer 2023:

  • California’s record snowpack in the winter has given a major boost to hydropower. In May, hydropower produced more electricity than any month in the previous three years, per California’s grid operator.
  • In renewable energy powerhouse Texas, solar capacity is more than twice the amount installed at the same point last year.
  • Recently expanded battery storage in both states can be tapped as an emergency lifeline when the power grid is strained.

It’s a similar story in Europe where, despite the relentless heat, grids are doing their job.

Looking ahead…it’s still July, and power demand could burden power systems as the calendar turns into steamy August.



German engineering at its finest. In a groundbreaking development, German entrepreneurs Dr. Marco Vietor and Paul Crusius have unveiled a virtually invisible hearing aid that is taking the US by storm. It’s called Horizon by Bluetooth-enabled, audiologist-backed, and smaller than a coffee bean. Start your no-risk trial today.


The week ahead

A shoulders-up photo of Fed Chair Jerome Powell looking off into the distanceSarah Silbiger/Getty Images

Final Fed rate hike? The Federal Reserve will likely announce another interest rate increase this week, but this could be the final hike in its 16-month quest to bring down inflation. If the Fed hikes 25 basis points as expected, interest rates would be at their highest level since 2001.

Earnings galore: Corporate America’s A-list will report Q2 earnings this week, including Meta, Alphabet, Microsoft, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, and Exxon Mobil. In all, about one-third of companies in the S&P 500 will give financial updates over the next five days, so we should get a good look into the health of a bunch of different industries.

Soccer at odd hours: The Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand enters its first full week of group-stage matches. The US women’s team, with one win on the books, goes for a second against the Netherlands Wednesday night. If you’re looking for an underdog to root for, check out the Reggae Girlz of Jamaica.

Everything else…

  • Futurama makes its long-awaited return today on Hulu.
  • Someone won the $1 billion Powerball jackpot last week, but the Mega Millions’s $820 million prize is still up for grabs. The next drawing is on Tuesday.
  • Neopets is beginning a “new era” tomorrow.


Key performance indicators

A now hiring sign is posted at a Panda Express restaurant on August 05, 2022 in Marin City, California.Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Stat: Some may call it pop and some may call it soda, but one thing many US states have in common is rock-bottom unemployment. The jobless rate in half of the 50 states was at or hovering near record lows in June, showing the resilience of the labor market even after 16 months of interest rate hikes, according to Bloomberg. With an unemployment rate of 1.8%, South Dakota and New Hampshire were tied for the lowest in the country.

Quote: “All right, we just got banned from Kuala Lumpur, see you later.”

At a concert in Malaysia Friday night, The 1975’s lead singer Matty Healy went on a rant bashing the country’s anti-gay laws and kissed his male bandmate on stage, prompting the Malaysian government to cut the festival they were playing at short. Homosexuality is punishable by 20 years in prison in majority-Muslim Malaysia, which called Healy’s behavior “an insult” to the country’s laws. The 1975 scrapped upcoming gigs in Indonesia and Taiwan following the incident.

Read: A decade ago Jeff Bezos bought a newspaper. Now he’s paying attention to it again. (New York Times)


What else is brewing

  • The Spanish election resulted in neither the conservatives nor the left achieving a majority in parliament. Get ready for some political wrangling to try and form a government.
  • Pfizer warned that supplies for dozens of its drugs would be impacted after a tornado damaged its North Carolina plant last week.
  • Wildfires on the Greek island of Rhodes sparked the country’s largest evacuation in history. The majority of the 19,000 people transported were tourists at hotels.
  • Georgia Bulldog Brian Harman waggled his clubs and dominated the British Open in rainy Merseyside. It was his first major victory.
  • Denmark’s Jonas Vingegaard won his second-straight Tour de France.


Monday to-do list image

 “I’m a Barbie girl”: But in the style of six different classical music composers. This guy is really talented.

 Resource for digital nomads: Find a community of people working and living in cities around the world.

 Antique pencil sharpeners: These are pretty ingenious contraptions.

  Fifty years of hip-hop: On the 50th birthday of the genre, hear from 50 rappers about how they got started.

 Cash-back creators: Curious about how retailers and credit card companies design cash-back reward offers for consumers? Retail Brew has the inside scoop.


 Brain gains: Master concepts in 15 mins a day with Brilliant’s bite-sized lessons in math, computer science, and more. Free for 30 days.*

*This is sponsored advertising content.


The puzzle section

Turntable: Mondays can be rough, but at least there’s a new Turntable to ease you back into the workweek. Play it here.

Portmanteau trivia

“Barbenheimer” not only encapsulated our fascination with two particular movies but also with the art of mashing two words together in the form of a portmanteau. Famous portmanteaus include “brunch,”  “hangry,” and “email.”

Can you name others from the clues provided?

  1. What Great Britain voted to do in 2016
  2. The hairstyle once worn by Adam Levine, David Beckham, and Zac Efron
  3. The US’ newest federal holiday
  4. A type of upscale bar that serves a $25 burger
  5. Jason Segel and Paul Rudd had one of these in a 2009 movie.
  6. Lululemon popularized this category of apparel.
  7. What I did, hopefully not condescendingly, this entire newsletter


  1. Brexit (Britain + exit)
  2. Fauxhawk (faux + mohawk)
  3. Juneteenth (June + nineteenth)
  4. Gastropub (gastronomy + pub)
  5. Bromance (brother + romance)
  6. Athleisure (athletic + leisure)
  7. Mansplain (man + explain)

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